This year, in 2020, we have had to face very dehumanizing measures. Intimidation has been used to bend our will. In order to stay on track and keep anchored in our centers, active and participatory organization is imperative to continue to build the realm of today and tomorrow, a world in which our children are able not only to survive the voracious artificial grids, but in which they are able to thrive, much more than we were allowed to be at their ages. This article is meant to spark inspiration for inner creativity and the opening of doors and portals within our minds.
Cooperative and participatory stores offer hundreds of different products. The principle is simple: after a trial period of one month, if one wants to continue to be a customer, they are invited to become a cooperator for a share of minimum 25 euros, this share gives them the opportunity to have a say in the management of the supermarket and to buy for 2 other individuals living under their roof. In exchange for the opportunity to shop there, the commitment is to be involved on a voluntary basis for 3 hours a month: checkout, cleaning, fundraising, communication, product research, recruitment of members, labeling, delivery and other types of services associated with the store. This way, customers are active in managing their consumption of food and everyday products and the operating costs are also reduced: the margins taken for profits are much lower than elsewhere.
The idea is not new; it was born in the 1970s in the United States. In Belgium, we find BeesCoop in Brussels, CoopEco in Charleroi and OuftiCoop in Liege with a wide choice of products from local producers chosen for their ethical charter (origin of the products, quality, impact on health and the environment, short circuits, respect of farmers). In their younger years, these structures are generally open 3 to 4 days a week in limited time slots. One can come with their own containers (cardboard boxes and bags). In 2020, an increase in sales has been observed in these structures, thanks to the rising awareness about the widespread dependence on mainstream stores, supermarkets and even organic stores in our daily lives. This change in awareness is inviting us to a more resilient and manageable economy.
In Belgium, I visited a glass greenhouse project (rue du Culot in Gembloux) and collective vegetable gardens which are the proofs of the desire to set up initiatives and projects raising awareness through active actions. On local markets, we are pleased to find local producers and farmers who work with natural fertilizers.
« Les fruits du soleil » is an initiative in collaboration with Spanish fruit and vegetable producers. By geographical areas in France and Belgium for example, small groups of buyers get together to place orders (at least 300 kilos for affordable shipping costs). The advantages are: tasty ripe fruits that have reached maturity on the trees (lychees, figs, avocados, several varieties of mangoes), the joy of bypassing supermarkets, the lesson of organizing locally and affordable prices in comparison to what we find in organic or even mainstream stores. On the other hand, it requires a certain amount of work and organization: the need for a good responsible coordination and organization between buyers, vegetables lacking freshness in comparison to fruits, difficulty in distributing heavy products between the different buyers, for example watermelons or pineapples or approximations in invoicing (hence the need to make sure a complain form is filled to correct what has been billed). Everything needs to be weighed again and double-checked. The group leader is taking care of the follow-up of the order (a full day of work is needed for preparation, reception, distribution and complaints). After a first order, we know where we stand and whether this type of organization is for us or not. To be informed about the steps to follow, join the Facebook group Fruitstock community or contact Alexandre Fraise: firstname.lastname@example.org
Orders can be prepared and collected at local counters or in local butchers’ shops. Deliveries of organic products can arrive at our doorsteps with fresh products which are not more expensive than in any organic store. Generally, the price for delivery is affordable. Credit notes may be issued in case of stock shortages. Another solution delivered to our homes are the weekly (or bi-weekly or monthly) fruit baskets, whether organic or not (it is sometimes complicated for producers to obtain the organic label, the important being that a quality charter is met and that products are tasty and savory). Finally, craft fruit juices may also be delivered on our doorsteps. They offer a possibility to be detoxing during a few days before the arrival of colder days.
We can also pay attention to the signs on the side of the road that inform us of the presence of local producers : this gives us the opportunity to stop and buy directly from them some tasty untreated specimens of apples for example, usually in a friendly atmosphere. Once or twice a month, large glass jars can be filled at natural water springs. In Belgium, 3 of them are registered on findaspring.com. This water is alive and charged with electromagnetic current and helps us to maintain good health. At the same time, we can invest in filtration systems such as Berkey filters (which work by gravity) or water dynamization systems (vortex caps, revitalizing bottles, orgonites). Finally, we can work on becoming self-sufficient in sponges by growing luffa squashes in our gardens and we may produce our own laundry product with ivy? To do this, we may bring it to boil for 15 minutes before leaving it to rest overnight and add a few essential oil drops of citrus or lavender. That’s as simple as that.