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ORGANICS & THE COOP MOVEMENT
Vedas & Ecology & Mother Earth
"O purifying Earth, you I invoke! O patient earth, by sacred Word enhanced. Bearer of nourishment and strength, of food and ghee. O earth, we would approach you with due praise!" (Arthara Veda XII.1.29)
The Vedas were the first set of texts which were blue prints of ecology. Our relationship to Mother Earth, biodiversity and respect for the plants, trees, flora & fauna were revealed in their many forms in the Vedas. No other sacred text has so much information on ecology and what is needed to keep Mother Earth pure.
The Chipko Movement and the Ecology Movement worldwide blossomed in the 1970's. Rachel Carson wrote her book, Silent Spring, about the dangers of DDT in the United States around this time. It was during this decade that the Food Coop Movement in the United States started to flourish, yet its principles had been developed first in Rochdale, England on October 24, 1844. The Todd Lane store became the world's first food coop. People developed the collective model combined with capitalism and democracy as the model of the Food Coop Movement we have with us today. Many of these coops follow the ecological principles found in the Vedas. The economic principles of the Food Coop Movement were revolutionary.
What were these principles? Open membership, democratic control (one person, one vote), distribution of the surplus to members, limited interest payments, political and religious neutrality, cash trading and promotion of education. Coops took the collective capital of the members for the operation of the coop and distributed the surplus back to the members. Some coops gave discounts for volunteer work in the stores, such as stocking the shelves, cashiering, cleaning the premises, and other needed tasks for operation of the coop. Today most coops have a paid, professional staff, but they still redistribute the surplus back to the members or to non-profits which members choose on a ballot.
I moved to Minneapolis 26 years ago and found a very thriving coop community. The food coops started in the summer of 1970 with the People's Pantry in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis. It became the North Country Coop, the first Minneapolis food coop. These coops began from very humble beginnings. They started in personal living space and grew quickly. Stores were established where members and non-members could shop. College students and seniors wanted healthy food which was not available at the grocery and convenience stores. The food was based on ecological principles found in the Vedas. The food was called organic, which means it was free of synthetic pesticides, GMOs, petroleum fertilizers or sludge. The animals were free of antibiotics, growth hormones, or any other animal by product.
My maternal grandparents always raised organic fruits, vegetables, eggs and Christmas trees. Black manure was the natural fertilizer which they used to grow the harvest. The secret of its success was the dark manure which made growth possible. My mother raised organic vegetables and flowers in her garden in our childhood and all the way until just before she moved into assisted living. I moved away eventually and finally moved to Minneapolis where I live today.
When I moved to Minneapolis, I learned right away about the food coops. Today there are about 14 of them, but in the hey day of the coops there were many. In fact there were located in just about every neighborhood. There is always talk of new coops being developed, too. I started shopping because I needed to buy organic food free of pesticides and many other chemical products. I had allergies, food intolerance and chemical sensitivity. The grocery stores could not guarantee food without chemicals and nasty bi-products.
Eating organics lowers your risk of getting various cancers: leukemia, lymphoma, brain tumors or breast cancer. Pesticides are often transported from mother to baby through breast milk. Organics have more anti-oxidants and more nutrients. Some of the super foods, which have great nutrition, are found in their best form at coops: flax seeds, kale, almonds, lentils, quinoa, avocados, beets, garlic, sweet potatoes, blueberries and mushrooms.
Ramon Seidler, Ph.D., a former EPA scientist, has spoken out about the dangers of GMOs and pesticides. The EU has banned GMOs and many pesticides, which destroy the health of the bees, butterflies and birds. These creatures love organic lawns. You will observe how they gravitate to organic lawns in every neighborhood. You can't fool these creatures. They know what is good for them.
You can eat organics on a limited budget. I shop at the Wedge Coop, the largest food coop in Minneapolis and also the largest one in the Midwest. It has thousands of members and is the second largest food coop in the United States. They have discounts for those with lower incomes. Contact the Wedge Customer Service Desk for more details. Other coops do have various discounts including those for seniors. The Wedge has the best prices and most specials. Coops have better prices overall than other natural grocers out there. You do need to use intelligence in what you buy, so you get the most for your money. Buy the products which have the best nutrition for the money. My health is much better when I eat organics. I move faster than people half my age and do not have the diseases many Americans get when they eat the standard American diet with pesticide-laden ingredients.
India has quite a bit of organics. Dr. Vandana Shiva and Ammachi Ma, the hugging saint, have developed organic food and organic seed programs. Navdanya is the organization developed by Dr. Shiva. Both of these women have developed environmental education programs to go along with the organics which are based on the concepts found in the Vedas.
The food coop is a great economic model for those who want to develop a cooperative economy for low income individuals. Everyone needs to eat, so there will be a constant demand. The demand is so great for organics. As a single person I have saved a lot of money buying foods in bulk because I can buy the exact quantity I need to buy. I don't have to buy a pound when a quarter pound is what is needed to cook a meal.
Food coops have been developed all over the world and are the future of the planet. The Wedge started in 1974 in an apartment on Franklin Avenue and now has thousands of members and customers. It generates millions of dollars in sales every year. It is just one of the many coops in existence in the United States. The coops have developed an alternative economy based on what the people want in their food. The members can comment about what they want the coop to stock and how it should be run. The board responds to what the members and customers want. You do not have to be a member of a coop to shop at a coop. Just come in and buy what you want.
On this Earth Day organics are more important than ever. In a world of global warming, it is a practical solution to hunger and poverty and promotes healthy living and economics. Happy Earth Day!
JAI SHRI MA! JAI SHRI FOOD COOPS! JAI SHRI VEDAS!