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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Somewhere Over the Co-op

On a recent trip to San Francisco, I encountered a luxurious and eco-friendly paradise. Welcome to Rainbow Cooperative Grocery. Located in the Mission district of San Francisco, this mural-filled warehouse come organic supermarket has an incredible commitment to both quality products and the environment. The Co-op While there are many cooperative grocery stores in San Francisco and all over the country, Rainbow has a long and distinguished history. Since 1975, Rainbow has been offering high quality and ecological products at affordable prices. They have also taken their position as one of the oldest and biggest health-food stores in the area seriously by offering a great deal of benefits and power to their members. Like most cooperative grocery stores, the operators are also the owners. Unlike some co-ops, however, full members of Rainbow are paid workers. While many hours of volunteer services are a necessary part of becoming a member, it is a serious job for those workers who in turn have an important role to play as part of the governing Rainbow body. An example of ideals established by the co-op members is their core mission statement. which includes livable wages and health insurance for workers, supporting fair labor, selling goods that are local, organic, or both, encouraging environmentally-friendly transportation, recycling and composting where possible, and creating an accepting, enriching, and diverse environment for both workers and customers. The Products Rainbow Grocery offers a comprehensive collection of food and living items. Many of their products are offered in bulk and Rainbow customers are encouraged, by small discounts, to bring their own reusable containers. These practices are extremely helpful in reducing the amount of plastic and excess packaging that has become a part of the everyday grocery experience. An honor system is in place as customers individually record the product’s item number, which corresponds to the price. While offering a wide selection cheese and other dairy products, one of the unique points of Rainbow Grocery is the fact that they do not sell meat. While limited in that respect, in most other ways Rainbow has more choices than you could imagine. From the multiplicity of seaweed and mushroom offerings to over 30 different types of flour include many completely unknown to me, Rainbow definitely has a lot to offer. They even have pink salt as mentioned in our October 20th blog, as well as red, black, and white quinoa! Beyond food, Rainbow offers a luxurious selection of natural bath and beauty products, beer and wine, vitamins, clothing, housewares, and even books. For more on Rainbow Grocery, check out their website. This site offers details on upcoming special, sales, and many other resources. Information about a co-op near you could be found here, with links to several cooperative databases. There is certainly a pot of gold to be found under this rainbow. Image Credit: Rainbow Cooperative Grocery

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