The Poor Pay More (But Don't Have To)
Early last month at Foods Co., I was both happy and surprised to see that they had a variety of slightly damaged produce mixed and matched in nylon net bags for 99¢ each. Most of it was slightly bruised, some had very prominent sugar spots, but all of it was usable. The really mushy spots on the fruit went into smoothies with the rest of the fruit, except for avocados, tomatoes, and cactus pears (tuna). Those all went into a very unique - and gourmet, if I may say so myself - guacamole that also included arugula from Golden Veggie, a mom and pop shop that is nestled almost equidistant from Wholefoods and Trader Joe's on Polk street. Golden Veggie often has much better prices on produce than both of the other stores do.
This month, Foods Co. didn't have the little net bags of produce. I had to get them from China town (usually all the prices on produce in Chinatown are better than chain store prices).I got an added bonus of red cactus pears. Speaking of added bonuses, those little net bags can double as scrubbing pads you'll never have to buy scrubbing pads again!
This all makes the case for a food-shopping club made up of a network of your friends, relatives, and neighbors - a co-op of sorts. Just make sure you invite people who are trustworthy and will hold up their end of the bargain and create a policyof dealing with those who don't.
This is how it would work:
1) If at all possible, have weekly meetings - even if it's only a telephone conference call.In your first meeting, elect or select official capacities such as a secretary to keep minutes and a treasurer to collect dues or pledges (this is where honesty is obviously important). Some people in your club may get food stamps or only a monthly check or have a vehicle but no income. Another could be an elder who can't provide a monetary contribution, but has wisdom and may need somebody to pick up their groceries from the food pantry.
2) Next, each member makes up a weekly and monthly shopping list. Compare them to see what you all have in common so it can be bought in bulk and divided up.
3) Assign each member to a store to pick up a circular form and monitor sale items.
4) Finally, the treasurer purchases a prepaid debit card with the first month’s dues. Choose a bulk store like Cash and Carry with the driver. However, Cash and Carry doesn't take food stamps, but Smart and Final does, so perhaps the food stamp member could shop there.
5) In addition, the treasurer might also purchase a gas card and change for parking meters.Any money spent would first have to be approved by a majority of members. The treasurer would also be responsible for receipts and weekly reports.
It could take several weeks or months to get things running smoothly with the club but it would be worth the time and effort.