MUTUAL BENEFIT ORGANIZATIONS
“Flunking Out at the Food Co-op.” By Alana Joblin Ain. New York Times. October 25, 2009. Established in 1973, the Park Slope Food Coop, with about 15,000 members who enjoy savings of up to 40 percent on environmentally friendly groceries, is one of the oldest, largest and most successful institutions of its kind in the country. Unlike many co-ops — including the Flatbush Food Coop in Brooklyn, where guests are allowed to shop without joining and members who don’t want to serve work hours can pay a slight markup for items — Park Slope has one of the stiffest work requirements: 2.75 hours every four weeks for each adult member of a household. Like any place that wears its ideals on its sleeve, the co-op evokes rage, adoration and all the emotions in between. In 2006, the food Web site chow.com published “Won’t Work for Food,” an essay by a onetime co-op member who described the place as “something between an earthy-crunchy health food haven and a Soviet-style re-education camp.” Three years later, passionate comments about the piece are still being posted.