In the Co-op Back Rooms

Ever wonder what is behind doors like this in Food Co-ops? I have, in fact, I've thought about this often.

Co-op staff always impressed me. They look all official and motivated and determined. I'm glad to see that because I think they provide an invaluable service to the community. I imagine that working at a Co-op is very much different from having a job at a conventional grocery store. Working at a Co-op seems like much more than just a job. Co- op staff are always genuinely curious about the product or produce that they are shelving and are quite helpful if a member-owner-shopper has questions. They always seem like they are on a worthwhile mission. The enthusiasm is contagious.

My eyes follow these people as they come in and out of doors like this. Often they come out with a cart laden with gorgeous fruits and healthy vegetables.

So, yes, I have, many a time, wondered what the heck was behind this door.



For the record - no, I did not go busting through the door. I was, in fact, invited to tour the backroom(s). Well, actually, I helped organize the event which ended with a tour and just attached myself to the group as they ventured past the door.

And, my initial response was shock. This first room is quite small. It's where the fruits and vegetables are prepared.

Did you know that at the Eastside Food Co-op, you can request to have that gigantic head of cabbage cut into half for you? Or that you request to buy just one stalk of celery. I didn't know this. I overheard this in a conversation between a staff person and a co-op member.



I wasn't joking when I said my eyes follow these people around. Don't think I'm weird. I just love food and will use any means necessary to find out more about it.

Even if I have to eavesdrop.



So, beyond this small room, there is the larger warehouse space with shelves of liquids and dry goods. Yet, another shock for me as I walked into this space. It was not jam-packed with stuff. They run a tight ship at the co-op, keeping inventory low and moving products through quickly. I'm sure this takes a lot organization and planning.

Something well beyond my skill set.



Finally, we were allowed to enter the refrigerators. Yeah! This is what I came for, the reason I joined the New Member Orientation Committee, the motivation that kept me going to all the planning meetings - the refrigerators!

T.M.I?



It was way cool. And, I don't mean just cold and refrigerated. Having never worked in food service nor ever owned a walk-in closet, this experience sort of combined the two novelties for me.



OK. Now you can think I'm weird.

I can't help it! I love my co-op!

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