Kettle Valley Food Co-op

There's something morally wrong when you bite into a Sweet Georgia Brown before starting a blog on a new food coop. However, I ordered my Purdy's as part of the school fundraiser so it plays perfectly into my theme of 'do as I say, not as I do.'

Kidding! Not about the half pound of chocolate, carmel and pecans I just stuffed in my mouth. I totally scarfed that, but it's Easter. No, my core message here is "support local anything," and in this particular case, a local initiative to better our food supply.

I attended an information meeting on the Kettle Valley Food Co-op held at Jimmy's one evening last week. If you're like me, you probably saw it in the paper and thought, "I should go to that," but had ten other things that took precedence. As I had one foot out the door, I thought, "I should phone..." and came up with a half dozen people I know would be interested. Since I didn't phone a single one, it's my civic duty to at least summarize the meeting here.

This region has always been a fertile one, capable of supplying many of the needs of its inhabitants long before the Overwaitea trucks rolled into town. The new co-op aims to revitalize this practice by helping existing growers find success and encouraging new growers to continue and expand.

I stole the following from their brochure which sums up their intentions better than I could:

- Provide access to quality Agricultural products grown in the Kettle Valley region. Our vision is to build a food system that offers local food year round.

- Link the farmer to the consumer through marketing activities; such as a Community Supported Agriculture system.

- Build on our farming economy by offering a fair price to the farmer, along with supporting services to help them be successful. Our vision for the future is to offer services such as an abattoir service, product distribution, equipment share, and bulk seed and feed purchases.

This is an exciting time to become involved. The model is still in development and open to input, thus ensuring it meets member needs. For instance, one topic up for discussion is delivery. Like me, you may have participated in the past in organic food basket deliveries, where produce arrives weekly or bi-weekly based on what's available. I personally lean toward an on-line ordering system. I don't always know what to do with a rutabaga. Yes, handy recipes are often included, but I still prefer the idea of only ordering what I know for sure I will eat.

One of the key messages that came out of the meeting was 'simplicity.' I have to admit that, as a working mom with a sideline writing career, I don't always have time for slow cooking. It is definitely easier to pick up what you need from the grocery store on the way home. Stuff in boxes from the freezer seems like a dream come true.

Yet I do subscribe to the belief that healthy eating is not only better for you physically, but that connecting to your food, knowing you're eating good, wholesome, clean food, is spiritually nourishing as well. I want to support this attitude and the co-op for its efforts in that direction. One of the ways I can do that is by broadcasting their existence.

Therefore: The Kettle Valley Food Co-op is currently looking for two more directors. If you would like to become involved in any capacity, especially as an eater or grower, email: Membership for consumers is $50. Investment shares for growers are $100.

Food co-ops are not a new concept. When my grandfather died, my grandmother received dividends from his share purchased about a hundred years ago. (Not quite, but close.) It wasn't big money and the whole process seemed quaintly old-fashioned when I learned about it. Nostalgia isn't driving this co-op, however. As we heard at the meeting, "We've learned a lot about co-ops over the years." My grandfather didn't have an on-line ordering system. I can tell you that!

There will be a general meeting of members and prospective members on Saturday, April 17th at the Anglican Church in Grand Forks. The meeting starts at 2:30 with potluck to follow. Attend, learn, offer your suggestions and pick up an information packet. Then put your money where your mouth is. Keep those Sweet Georgia Browns out of it.