Walking the main drag of Katoomba on our two night getaway in the Blue Mountains, K and I came across a funky sign on the pavement, pointing the way down to the Blue Mountains Food Co-Op.
A food co-op is a new concept for me, after having spent most of my life shopping at supermarkets, grocers, and stores where you pay good money to receive pre-packaged products from big brands. It’s always been about the marketing, the advertising, the colours on the packaging, and the opportunity to ‘win big prizes’ if you buy two or more boxes of cereal. After walking through the store and making a few purchases of flour and arborio rice, I am absolutely enchanted with the concept of going back to basics with a food co-op.
Why keep buying new bottles of dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent, shampoo or conditioner when you can re-use environmentally friendly bottles and simply refill from large communal containers, and pay for what you buy? All you need to do is add a few drops of essential oils to the mix for a nice fragrance, and it’s ready to go.
Why buy produce that’s been wrapped in plastic and imported from other countries, when you can buy local and seasonal organic fruit and vegetables, picked and harvested only a day or two ago?
Why buy snacks like chips and lollies when you can have nature’s own sweetness like dried papaya and mango, or a nut mix for snacking on during a long day at work? Simply bring in your Tupperware container or jar, and fill up with as much as you want, rather than being restricted to the pre-packaged sizes.
Grains and legumes are the culinary basis of a “back to basics” approach to cooking and learning to appreciate food as it naturally appears. Stocking up on lentils, chickpeas, and dried beans can give you the basis of a wide variety of family-friendly meals.
What do you think of food co-ops? Do you take part in any, and do you have any tips for others who might be interested?