Why I Quit The Park Slope Food Coop

Why I quit the Park Slope Food Coop…

Park Slope Food Coop

With recent buzz (more below) around the Park Slope Food Coop, I thought I’d briefly share my thoughts.

The Park Slope Food Coop (PSFC) in Brooklyn is an impressive entity.

With 15,000 members, it is one of the United States’s largest and oldest food coops.

The competitive pricing (roughly 20% markup from wholesale) on great food is a bargain in return for three required hours working at the PSFC each month.

I like the progressive values that favor healthy and organic foods, sustainable farming, and high quality and niche items.

That’s why, when Laura and I moved to Park Slope, Brooklyn in 1999, we soon joined the PSFC.

But after a few years, Laura and I fell out of love.

We didn’t officially resign. We didn’t even request the PSFC to return our membership investment (of a few hundred dollars, I can’t remember exactly, which any member is allowed to do).

We just stopped going.

There are three reasons we left.

First, our lives got busy with careers and eventually a newborn. Three hours per month is not an unreasonable work commitment, but it was for us at that period in our lives. It would be now, for sure.

Second, I was troubled by an incident where a fellow member dropped her loaded revolver on the floor during a busy Saturday morning, with lots of shoppers and their kids. When I told my PSFC squad leader (a fellow member who leads dozens of other members for work shifts), he smiled, shrugged it off, and walked away.

Third, there are a lot of awesome people who comprise the PSFC membership. But there also is a heavy presence of political activists, sometimes on the righteous side, who aren’t shy about expressing and acting on their views. I’m all for activism. It’s a free country and people should exercise their right to free speech. But for a cooperative grocery store — where I just wanted to do my shift and buy my groceries — it was sometimes over the top for me.

We grew apart from the PSFC. Eventually, we moved out of Park Slope, to the suburbs, where membership now is impractical for us.

Looking back, I miss the PSFC. I think it is a great organization, even though there are things I would have liked to change.

I wish there were more comparable coops throughout our country — and in our current neighborhood of Westchester County.


Lastly, you have to see below the recent John Stewart and Samantha Bee feature on the PSFC’s most recent controversy: a vote to ban all products made in Israel. This controversy has garnered a ton of national and international media attention, perhaps because of the very high population of reporters (especially NPR staffers) in Park Slope. It gives you a sense of what I meant in my third point above.


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(Photo: wallyg)

Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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