Let there be organic lentils!
Politically conscious North Brooklyn foodies have formed the Willypoint Food Co-op — a nascent members-only shopping club that aims to bring fair trade fare at fair prices to grungy hipsters sick of grungy supermarkets and hip-but-costly grocers.
“There’s a limited choice in terms of organic and sustainable food,” said Aurore Ballengee, a co-op organizer who currently gets her food from the grocery delivery service Fresh Direct. “Everywhere I look, it’s a lot of processed food.”
So far, the group has made one bulk produce purchase as a buying club — helping six customers stock up on rice, beans, and lentils just before Thanksgiving — and is working towards opening a storefront.
The goal now is luring members through public meetings, and developing a recipe for success drafted with help from members of the Bushwick Food Co-op on Flushing Avenue, which started out as a buying club, and the Greene Hill Food Co-op on Putnam Avenue, which began as a brick-and-mortar where members work for discounts.
“We have to decide where to go from here,” said Watson. “We might continue as a buying club to raise money for the storefront, or we might try to get some grants and go straight for the storefront.”
Either way, the mission is to provide Williamsburg and Greenpoint with fresh food at cheaper-than-normal prices.
“I’m into sustainable food and food access and affordability and strong community,” said Willypoint member Kim Wong. “A co-op is the perfect way to strengthen the community.”
North Brooklyn has become a culinary hotspot in recent years, but its grocery stores have lagged behind its restaurants, foodies complain. But Willypoint will have soon face some organic competition: Whole Foods plans to open on Bedford Avenue in 2014.
If the co-op goes the storefront route, it likely won’t set up shop for at least a year. But if it does, expect Willypoint to reflect the neighborhood’s artsy character.
“We want to have locally-grown produce, meats and dairy, and a community space that would have spaces for art shows and poetry readings,” said Willypoint organizer Ryan Watson. “We want to have ways to engage with the community about where their food comes from.”
Visit the co-op’s Facebook page at Facebook.c