Saturday 27th July 2013
I have grown to love OB People’s Organic Food Market so much that I feel it deserves a post all of it’s own. On Saturday, Gabe and I walked the 3/4 mile from our apartment on Niagara to People’s on Voltaire to pick up our weekly shop. For environmental reasons, we take our own bags (which also enters us into the daily prize draw to win $30 worth of groceries!) and we discuss our spending tactics on the way. This time, we were shopping for ingredients for vegetarian Italian and Thai dinners.
People’s advertises itself as: ‘A California consumers cooperative where anyone can shop and everyone can join!’. ‘People’s’ is such an appropriate name for the market because it is operated for the people by the people. It’s cooperative structure is one of it’s most attractive features. A co-op business is one that is owned by its members, which sidesteps corporate involvement, avoiding a business model that is disconnected from its community and favours mindless profit over meeting the needs of its customers. People’s is financed, operated and run by the very people who shop there, so their needs and wishes are always met, and the profits from the business are always circulated back into the community- not sent away to some junk-food-flogging-fat-cat.
Another reason why I love People’s is because I can trust them. The market is fully organic and vegetarian and is stocked with an extensive range of natural products. When I go into other stores, both in San Diego, and back home in Scotland, I find myself checking the label on everything because I cannot trust that the store has my best interests at heart. But People’s take great pride in their organic and natural status and enforce it rigorously. You can shop wildly in there and never come across a single product that has been tested on animals, treated with harmful chemicals or is un-recyclable. People’s have gone to the effort of guilt-proofing your shopping in a way that I have never seen before. I am extremely grateful for the peace of mind that People’s have afforded me as I shop.
The fresh produce at People’s is absolutely beautiful, and when you enter the fruit and veg aisles, the sights, smells, drips and temperature are that of a botanic garden. Most items are labelled, so you know which organic local farm they come from, and the juicy, plump and natural produce is enticingly brightly coloured and very reasonably priced.
Even the building that houses People’s wares is environmentally aware! The custom-designed ‘green’ shop is constructed from recycled steel, engineered lumber, is non-toxic, and features sustainably harvested materials- this is up-cycling to the maximum! The store’s design is natural and minimal, allowing the produce to shine as the centrepiece. Both the building’s location and construction utilize natural daylight to reduce the shop’s consumption of energy, whilst managing the internal temperature of the building and reducing overheating due to sunlight through glass. This reduces and eliminates the need for air conditioning…pretty nifty! Read more about People’s Green Building here.
As well as fresh produce, the market also sells an extensive range of grains, nuts, seeds, pastas and flours in a per-lb dispensary system. We discovered the hard way that this is not a pick n’ mix…one bag per one item please! (Sorry People’s!). Gabe and I, being daily coffee drinkers, were delighted to see the organic coffee dispensary at which you can select a coffee, measure, weigh and grind it yourself. Each coffee dispenser has information on the front, allowing you to make the best choice for your caffeinated (or decaf!) needs.
I also love the health and beauty section. This is nothing short of an apothecary, with lotions and potions for illness prevention and cure, cosmetics for natural beautification, and all the vitamins you could ever want. Gabe had bad heartburn so we got a natural remedy to cure him, which worked a treat. I was looking for some spirulina as a diet supplement and we were served by a patient, friendly and knowledgeable man who is an asset to People’s.
If you ever visit Ocean Beach, you must visit this place- even if it’s just to pick up a refreshing valencia orange to eat on a hot day. For me, People’s represents everything that good trade and good business should be; from the quality of produce to the philosophy of the place, they’ve got it right. The market impressed me so much that it made me both mad and sad that we don’t have anywhere like this in Glasgow. Then I realized that the point of People’s is that they did it themselves, and that if I want a co-operative (not the co-operative!) food shopping experience, I’ll have to do it myself. I did some reading online and discovered- much to my amazement- that my beloved University of Glasgow has a food co-op group that has been flourishing for the last few years. I am extremely proud of this and I plan to throw myself, my money and my skills wholeheartedly at Glasgow Uni Food Co-op, which is close to my home and now, thanks to People’s, is close to my heart.
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