From the very first paragraph, the description of the 16,000-strong coop, born in 1973 to bring affordable, healthy food to its members, is a form of delicious farce:
"A kale shortage incites widespread panic. A 4-year-old melts down when his parents won’t buy him dried papaya spears. And members debate natural childbirth while bagging nuts.... It’s tales from the front lines of the Park Slope Food Coop, temple to locally grown, antibiotic-free, passive-aggressive grocery shopping where you’ll find equal doses of corn and scorn."
Scroll down some and you get this Daily Show-worthy bit:
"It attracts all kinds of Brooklynites - from grungy hipsters to fortyish vegan moms chiding their multiracial children in French as they jostle for locally grown rhubarb. Recently, customers searched for filtered coconut water to prepare for a snowstorm and another was breathlessly seeking chocolate goat's milk."
And, yes, on a bleak day in which there was no more kale to be had, "people were ready to burn the co-op to the ground," said one anonymous source who wouldn't reveal his name for fear of being kicked out. "The intercom went crazy with 'Do we have kale!?' 'Do we have kale!?' 'Someone needs to get fired!' It was doomsday." (True story though: Brooklyn abounds with kale-freaks, in the Coop and out of it.)
Other Coop-scoops from the Daily News: Everyone's neurotic (another anonymous member reports); people talk about hippy-dippy stuff like "natural childbirth" (oh no); there are rules and procedures governing membership and working shifts (it's a coop with thousands of members); and there may be snotty intercom conversations discussing a search for, say, vegan macaroons (yeah). All this sounds a lot like "artisanal Brooklyn" (or even parts of Manhattan) in general. And other aspects of it just sound like New York: "The coop is so popular that claustrophobic conditions and endless checkout lines lead to 'cart rage,' as one member puts it."
The point is, ask anyone who's a member, the bargains—20 to 40 percent less than are to be had elsewhere, in many cases—are well worth whatever neuroses or "personalities" do exist within. One member tells me, "Haters gonna hate. Can’t make fun properly unless you’ve done the time."
Are people who shop at the Coop really as "crazy" as all that? Or are the rest of us just "crazy" for continuing to obsess and parse out every nitty-gritty detail about how a bunch of people in Brooklyn do their shopping? I guess we all have to get our metaphorical vegan macaroons somewhere.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.