BETHLEHEM FOOD CO-OP: Guest Post in a Series exploring needs of Various Diets

The beloved Bethlehem Food Co-op is making (seriously impressive) strides, and just launched a new promotional poster series to raise community awareness. In conjunction, they have asked members with various dietary needs to contribute to the Co-op Blog with short essays about why the Co-op would address their specific needs.

I was happy to contribute a little something for Vegan diets (click to read). 

Bethlehem Food Co-op Poster

If you live in the Lehigh Valley and are not familiar with this project, take a few moments to poke around the website and learn about how this can GREATLY impact our community in so many ways it would take a day to list them all.

Or say hello in person when you find us at a farmer’s market or event local event. The local residents, businesses, farmers and economy will benefit from this and, as a member of the community, YOU directly benefit as well. Talk about win-win!

Visit the Bethlehem Food Co-op website to learn more and get involved.

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COOKBOOKS AND HAPPINESS

Woo, what a week! This week I’ll get to see the FULL episode of the show, and it’ll air by the weekend, I do believe! Dates and times to come! We’re also going to be taping some of Episode 2. Man, this is just too much fun.

But let me point you to some things:

The first is a wonderful project that YOU can be a part of: A Cookbook Fundraiser for Bethlehem Food Co-op. The Co-op folks are working on putting together a professional, color-photo cookbook as a fundraiser. They are collecting recipes now! Send one in and get it published! We will even borrow the talents of professional food photographers to make your dish look like a fancy supermodel.

Surely your recipes will be better than the ol' sandwich loaf.

Recipes do not have to be veg*n, but in a fun twist, the cookbook is striving to include adjustments for all recipes with tips on how to make them vegan or vegetarian wherever possible.

You (yup, you, the readers!) have proved time and again that you are creative little geniuses in the kitchen, so don’t be shy – send in your work!

GO HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BETHLEHEM FOOD CO-OP COOKBOOK!

–      –      –       –      –      –     –     –     –     –

  The second thing I want you to take a few moments and read is this post by Allyson of Manifest Vegan. She posted this a couple weeks ago and I keep returning to it when the mood strikes. It’s inspirational, it’s 100% true, and it’s done in that cheerful oh-so-darling Allyson way.

Please head over to her blog and read TEN SIMPLE STEPS TO HAPPINESS.

Excerpt:

…I discovered a really fascinating way of approaching life through the study of Buddhism and Hinduism: simply to live compassionately. I tossed a lot of what I didn’t feel applied to me and kept that one notion. And, it really does go a long way.

That is why I’m vegan. I’m not in it for denser bones, healthier eyes, stronger muscles, or smoother digestion–although these things are very nice perks. I guess you could say I do it for my mental health. I do it because it makes me happy. I do it because I want to be a compassionate person, both to others and to myself. For me, veganism just fits right in with everything so very nicely.

Ten Simple Steps to Happiness by Allyson Kramer of Manifest Vegan

  • 1) Say thank you, and mean it.
  • 2) Take change as an opportunity to act.
  • 3) Have no expectations. 
  • 4) Smile.
  • 5) Let the important people in your life know how much they mean to you.
  • 6) Don’t get bogged down with toxic emotions like jealousy, anger, fear and self-loathing.
  • 7) Love your body.
  • 8) Help others.
  • 9) Surround yourself with positive people, and let the one’s who don’t bring you positive energy (and especially those with downright negative energy) fall to the wayside.
  • 10) Be the change.

*Note that all of these topics are expanded upon in the actual post, so head over there to read it, learn it, live it.

Marcel the Shell: A modern day prophet

Let’s Cooperate

I’m off to a wedding today (woohoo! I watched wedding shows all morning so I’m extra-lovey and super excited!), so check back next week while I hope to get caught up on posts that have been stewing in my brain for weeks.

But let me remind you about this little initiative… well, scratch that. It’s a big deal.

The Bethlehem Food Co-op is rolling along, full steam ahead.

WE NOW HAVE T-SHIRTS, BUTTONS, BUSINESS CARDS AND BROCHURES! Go to the website to learn more about how you get any of these wonderful things to spread the good word.

A committee is currently working on putting together a cookbook for a fundraiser and you’re going to want to get one, because no one can ever have too many cookbooks. Ask me, I know. If you’d like to know more or be a part of it, send an email to info@bethlehemfood.coop

The next Bethlehem Food Co-op meeting is open to ANYONE, and will be this Thursday, April 19th at 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Center Street in Bethlehem. Bring a friend, bring your kids, bring cookies.

On Saturday, April 28th, we will be part of Bethlehem’s Earth Day celebration with information and be part of activities for the kids!

Poster in progress, Christian Weber Creatives. I'll replace this with a real one when he sends it to me.

Speaking of Bethlehem, starting this May the NEW Historic District Farmer’s Market will begin at the Sun Inn Courtyard, right there downtown (walking distance, hey now!) on Thursdays from 11am-3pm. The Co-op will be around with an information table and helping the vendors if they need it.

If you would like to be involved in ANY of these wonderful projects, leave a comment and I’ll help you get in touch with the right people.

Bethlehem Food Co-op Update: January 2012

Now that the rush of the Holidays has settled, we are back to planning meetings and organizing next steps to take toward opening the Food Co-op.

There will be a general meeting on Thursday, January 19th from 7pm-9pm at the Icehouse in Bethlehem (more info below). It will be broken into two parts: 7p-8pm we will hold Committee Meetings. If you attended the first meetings and signed up for a committee, you will meet with your group (or one of your groups if you signed up for several). If you haven’t signed up, feel welcome to come and join a committee. The general meeting will be held from 8pm-9pm, so we can update each other on the actions the committees will take next, among other things.

One exciting element of this meeting will be the naming of the Co-op. It’s currently referred to several different ways among people, websites, and social media. We are looking for one name so information will be consistent.

YOU CAN VOTE ON THE NAME HERE, and do so before the January 19th meeting. Voting is open until January 15th.

*All name suggestions are listed here – some are serious, others are funny. Enjoy.

You can find updated information on the Bethlehem Food Co-op blog, which goes into more detail about the meeting and anything we are working on.

JANUARY CO-OP MEETING INFO

  • Thursday, January 19th 2012
  • 7pm-9pm
  • at The Icehouse in Bethlehem (located on the river on Northside, near Sand Island, right behind The Wooden Match restaurant. The Icehouse is a brick building closest to the river with a public park behind it.)
  • Here are directions to The Icehouse
  • Keep up with the Co-op Facebook Page for more information/discussion
Thanks to Breath_less'56 on flickr for this photo of The Icehouse, Bethlehem

Thanks to Breath_less'56 on flickr for this photo of The Icehouse, Bethlehem

Follow-up to the first Bethlehem Co-op Meeting: “Not Knowing is Part of the Adventure”

On the afternoon of the first Co-op meeting, I went to Cathy’s house while she and Summre sat drinking chai tea from one of those tiny chinese tea kettles. Her kitchen is gorgeous – modest in structure but full of old glass jars full of pasta and beans, and so many windows letting in the light, like a metaphor for what was to take place that evening.

We talked business, went over the agenda,  and Summre (cook and former owner of one of my favorite breakfast places in Bethlehem) wowed us with ways we can use technology to help get things off the ground (okay, it’s official: iPads are pretty neat). In between moments of productivity, we talked about kids and perfume and books.

(I was sharing natural remedies/strategies for coping with anxiety and panic when Cathy got up, went to a bookcase, and handed me a copy of “Comfortable with Uncertainty” by the beloved Pema Chodron. Cathy had no idea that one of Pema’s books, “When Things Fall Apart“, helped to save and then reshape my life and self-identity two years earlier.)

Once we wrapped up, I walked home with a mind spinning about the possibilities that are available to us – here and now – in this community, in this town, in the present. 

Photo from TheElVee.com - go there to read the wonderful review and check out his excellent photos

Later, at the library, as people began entering the room, it soon became evident that we were going to run out of chairs. “This is perhaps the best problem we could have…” I said, addressing the issue at the start, no one seeming to mind and folks quickly finding floor space to share with neighbors and nodding between bites of homecooked food from the potluck table. Summre’s daughter made a picture on the chalkboard welcoming everyone, along with a tiny cartoon man with a speech bubble proclaiming, “I love the Co-op!”.

If this all sounds a little too romantic, a little too Small-Town-Where-Everyone-is-Friendly-and-Shares-Food-and-Thoughts-in-Public-Spaces… I recognize it; except, well, that’s how it happened. 

Some other local bloggers did really fantastic jobs of capturing the feeling of the meeting itself, so I’ll point you over to their blogs for recaps: Colleen of FromHereNow writes the new official Co-op Blog and (name withheld to remain anonymous as per his blog) from The El Vee has a very detailed review and excellent photos of the people and food.

Surprisingly the meeting ended nearly 25 minutes before expected, but that didn’t mean anyone was done talking. An hour later attendees were still standing outside on the library steps talking (squealing?) with ideas and plans to move the Co-op forward. They say nothing brings people together like food, and a food store “by the people, for the people” seems to reinforce that notion.

Thanks for this picture, Alex.

Feeling exhausted but too excited to sleep, a few of us met at Summre’s house to attempt to find a way to close the evening, but even an hour later as we finally left to go to our own homes, the air felt electric, enough to power all the twinkle lights that have started to pop up around the city. 

Back at home, I was rooting around the dresser for pajamas, Ryan (unable to attend) asked how it went. I pulled the cardigan around me, scratched Pierogi’s ears, and found I was unable to put my feelings into words. And that oddly, after a night of such positivity and action, I felt a worrying in the pit of my stomach.

I’m not sure I have identified the feeling entirely, but it may be in part: if somehow this doesn’t happen, or if it happens and it doesn’t do well, are we failures? Will it be my fault? Is it narcissistic of me to think that something I helped create has enough of an impact to affect people anyway?

… there was that panic again. So I went to my bag to get the book Cathy loaned to me. I opened to a random page, and found this:

A warrior accepts that we can never know what will happen to us next. We can try to control the uncontrollable by looking for security and predictability, always hoping to be comfortable and safe. But the truth is that we can never avoid uncertainty. This not-knowing is part of the adventure.  (“Comfortable with Uncertainty”, by Pema Chodron)

This not-knowing is part of the adventure.

I do know this: the meeting was more successful than we could have hoped, and we left having lots of people volunteering to be on various committees. We have a more direct path on the process (what will likely take a few years) to make this a reality. We are coming up with a cohesive vision for our own food Co-op.

It will take a tremendous amount of time and work, but the foundation has been set and it’s strong.

– – – – – – – – –

To anyone unable to make the first meeting, a second meeting is set for Sunday, December 11th at 4pm at Jumbar’s in Bethlehem. GO HERE FOR MORE INFO on the Make Up Meeting. (You don’t need to attent this meeting if you were at the first – it won’t be new information at this time, though you are welcome once again to join us.)

CO-OP UPDATE: Official Meeting Time/Location Info

The response to the idea of having a Co-op in Bethlehem has been OVERWHELMING. To say the very least. Whether you have reached out, offered networking/advice, volunteered time or “whatever it takes!”, or simply support the idea — THANK YOU.

This sounds pretty sappy but for real — we are the ones who will make this happen — and I am happy to report it’s pretty unanimous that we all WANT this to happen and make it really, really good.

Let me first say that the official time/location of the first general meeting has been set up. This has CHANGED from the original proposed date due to room availability. *PLEASE NOTE: If you cannot make this meeting, let me know because we will plan a second meeting after the first to accomodate (as much as possible) those who cannot attend the first meeting. </br>

BETHLEHEM CO-OP FIRST MEETING

  • Wednesday, November 30th
  • 7:00pm – 9:00pm
  • Bethlehem Area Public Library (Main/Northside location)
  • signs will direct you to the room location
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… And again, stay tuned as a second meeting will be planned for those unable to attend this one.
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EXCITING NEWS: We had planned to get a more tangible idea of the vision for the Co-op before we went to the City of Bethlehem to present the idea and ask for advice and help. BUT! They caught wind of it and contacted us first because they were excited to learn more!
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I just got back from an impromptu meeting with folks from the Economic and Development council who were able to answer some questions, offer insight, and say they are on board with the idea. Before I left I said, “I just have to ask, perhaps off the record, in your general opinions… do you think this could work? Is there any outstanding reason why it couldn’t?” And the short answer was: Yes it could work. No, there is no reason right now why it couldn’t.
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Very encouraging. Can I oreiterate that I love living here?
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Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to once again visit GreenStar in Ithaca, NY. I spent some time, took a lot of photos, made notes, grabbed some newsletters, talked to some folks in the town about how they felt it did/didn’t meet their needs, etc… All good info.</br>
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I’ll make an update here very soon with the photos, which at the very least can get all of us excited about buying gluten-free pasta from bulk bins. Or whatever.
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If you care to use your magical social networking skills, please join/repost the following links. If YOU are interested, chances are people you are friends with would also be interested. The more the merrier. Spread the word: </br>

FACEBOOK Grocery Co-op Group: general info/updates

EVENT PAGE: for the first meeting on Nov. 30th </br>

BETHLEHEM GROCERY CO-OP: Let’s Do This

 

Bethlehem is a very walkable city, with two “sides” joined by a river, each boasting their own personalities and local characters.

Unfortunately, at the moment the gaping hole in what this community needs is a grocery store downtown. It’s something the residents have been talking about for years. We are all trying to learn more – is there a reason why there is no local store in walking distance of the rest of the shops and businesses? (At the moment signs point to insufficient parking being an issue. More needs to be looked at here.)

 Some residents and folks in the area are coming together to talk about the wonderful idea of a Grocery Co-op in Bethlehem. I have been working with Cathy Frankenberg, local environmental activist and all-around wonderful person, to organize a plan to learn more about the possibility of bringing this to our town and carry it out.

A food Co-op existed here in the 1980's!

A Grocery Co-op, in simplest terms for anyone not familiar with them, is essentially a grocery store that focuses on selling local/organic foods and environmentally friendly products. They often have (and our vision does) a community room to hold a cooking class or a movie screening/discussion. They often have a small cafe/prepared foods area so you can pick up some lunch or dinner and a fair trade coffee.

About the size of a Trader Joes – bigger than a small health food store but smaller than a large grocery chain – Co-ops are member owned: which means once you join as a member, you are now an owner of shares and this means you get to vote on issues and policies. (It also means you get a nice discount!)

Peoples Co-op

Essentially a non-profit, Co-ops also mean prices reflect just enough revenue to cover the cost of operation and it’s staff, meaning items are affordable and use of extra revenue generated is voted upon by owners (see above!) to determine how best to use the money.

This also means quality foods and environmentally friendly products are affordable for most income levels. You should not have to make a lot of money to afford good, healthy food.

Real Food Co-op

This could be an invaluable assest to our community and local farmers and anyone who would like to keep their dollars recycled among local businesses and community efforts.

JOIN THE FACEBOOK GROUP HERE: Bethlehem Grocery Co-op

A meeting open to ANYONE interested in learning more, with ideas to share, or experience or knowledge of moving forward is invited to come to a meeting (after which we can organize a steering committee):

  • Bethlehem Grocery Co-op Meeting
  • Wednesday, November 30th
  • 7:00pm – 9:00pm
  • Bethlehem Area Public Library (Main/Northside location)

Davis Food Co-op

You can look at a few websites of co-ops in the United States that serve as models for what we hope to do:  GreenStar in Ithaca, NY.  East End Co-op in Pittsburgh, PA. Rainbow Co-op in San Francisco, CA. Tacoma Food Co-op in Tacoma, Washington. … and there are so many more!
I urge you to spread the word about the meeting and the Facebook Group!