Bubbling with field-trip excitement, a group of third graders entered Swarthmore Co-op eager for a tour. Passing bins of local apples, they peppered their guide with questions, wondering what makes a co-op a co-op?
Short for cooperative, “a co-op is a community-owned business,” said Mike Litka, general manager. “If you’re a big believer in supporting local producers and local farms, we’re the place to go.”
See for yourself this Saturday - the first-ever Philadelphia Grocery Co-op Day, featuring deals, demos, “new member swag,” samples and more.
“October is National Co-op Month, and we just felt that it was a great opportunity to get the word out about co-ops,” he added. “I think the Philadelphia market doesn’t really know it’s out there or how deep it goes.”
Last year, area food co-ops did $42 million in sales, putting profits back into communities. More than 16,000 members invest in shares of the business, earning “equal voting rights,” discounts and other benefits. But co-ops aren’t exclusive.
“We’re similar to most grocery stores in that anyone can shop here,” explained Kathleen Casey, development manager for Weaver’s Way Co-op in Ambler, Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy. “It functions as sort of a community hub as well as a place for great food.”
Savor everything from freshly made chicken pot pie to Mom’s Tuna, a best-seller.
“There’s nothing sexy or special about Mom’s Tuna, but it’s universal,” said executive chef Bonnie Shuman. “There’s something timeless and classic about it.”
And for a seasonal treat, try a Philly Bread Co. pumpkin Philly Muffin - perfect with whipped honey cream cheese.
“You can make a vegan version with a vegan cream cheese,” she noted. “And instead of honey, you could use agave.”
How sweet it is … to have shopping options. Rounding out the list: Kensington Community Food Co-op, West Philadelphia’s Mariposa Food Co-op and South Philly Food Co-op, opening soon. Plus, stay tuned for planned cooperatives in West Chester and Kennett Square.
“There’s an alternative place to shop that’s welcoming and focused on the needs of the community,” Casey said, “that’s interested in creating a really robust local economy and supporting local businesses.”
Don’t forget your passport!
This Saturday, Oct. 19, grab a Philly Grocery Co-op Passport and start exploring. Collect stamps to win prizes like Equal Exchange chocolate bars, local coffee and even a $25 gift card.
The Philadelphia area boasts “one of the largest concentrations of grocery co-ops per capita in the country,” according to organizers, who encourage people “to think, shop and spend locally.”
Complete the passport by Nov. 1. Learn more at www.PhillyGroceryCoopDay.com
Bonnie's Whipped Honey Cream Cheese Spread
1 (8 ounce) package organic cream cheese or vegan cream cheese spread
1/3 cup raw honey (such as Instar Apiaries found at Weavers Way Co-op) or 1/3 cup organic amber agave (vegan)
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese with a mixer. Gradually add in the honey (or agave) and the lemon juice and zest. Spread over a Philly Bread Co. pumpkin Philly Muffin and enjoy!
Note: We like to use lemon juice and the zest in the spirit of no-waste.
RECIPE COURTESY OF WEAVER’S WAY CO-OP
Harvest Butternut Squash
1 butternut squash
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Cube up the squash. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Place on a nonstick baking pan into a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes. Enjoy!
RECIPE COURTESY OF SWARTHMORE CO-OP
2 (12-ounce) cans tuna, drained
1 stalk celery, minced
2 tablespoons red onion, small dice
1 teaspoon parsley, minced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl or container, break up tuna with a fork. Toss with finely minced celery, parsley and diced red onion. Mix in the mayonnaise and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Enjoy!
RECIPE COURTESY OF WEAVER’S WAY CO-OP