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Houston Breakthrough 1978-02
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Houston Breakthrough 1978-02 - Page 19. February 1978. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. April 19, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/2254/show/2247.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(February 1978). Houston Breakthrough 1978-02 - Page 19. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/2254/show/2247

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough 1978-02 - Page 19, February 1978, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed April 19, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/2254/show/2247.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Compound Item Description
Title Houston Breakthrough 1978-02
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date February 1978
Description Vol. 3 No. 1
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 25 page periodical
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 19
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name femin_201109_537r.jpg
Transcript Marilyn Marshall Jones Street farmers* Co* op By Maxine Atlas What do you do when the grocery bill gets larger and larger—and the sacks you bring home get smaller and smaller? Or maybe you want produce which hasn't been loaded with chemicals somewhere along the line? More and more, the great supermarket serach for nutritious food reveals items which have been processed to death, treated with unfamiliar chemicals of unknown properties, and, in some cases, list wholly unrecognizable ingredients. There are a number of neighborhood food buying clubs in Houston where families share in the task of purchasing wholesale quantities of produce. It's a plan that offers one solution to the economics of food buying, but it contains an inherent disadvantage: Sometimes, families find themselves with more fruits and vegetables—in quantity and kind-than they bargained for. Some people have attempted to solve this problem and gain more direct control over the kinds of foods thay eat, by establishing member- owned and operated food cooperatives. The first successful consumer cooperative, still in operation, was begun in Rochdale, England, in 1844, by 28 weavers who had been fired and blacklisted after an unsuccessful strike for higher wages. At the suggestion of Ann Twee- dale, the only woman among them, they organized to obtain staple foods at lower prices. Twenty-five years before married women were legally permitted to own property in England, membership in the "Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers" was open to women on an equal basis with men. They could receive dividends, hold shares, and vote-a remarkable achievement for the time. Since then, co-ops have continued along the principles of democratic control, political and religious neutrality, and non sexist membership. In Houston, there is only one store front food cooperative where members have joined to collectively provide themselves with a cheaper source of more nutritious foods. This co-op is an outgrowth of the now defunct Houston Food Co-op and General Store, which was located on Welch Street in the Montrose area. The store was begun before the Texas Cooperative Association Act was passed, and it had no bylaws. One person was able to gain control simply by signing all the papers and conducting all the store's business. It soon became a sole proprietorship, heavily indebted through financial mismanagement. When a group of Houston Food Co-op members realized the store's progress towards non co-op status could not be halted, they met to collectively organize a "real" co-op. They named themselves Street farmers' Cooperative, and incorporated as a non-profit cooperative under the Texas Cooperative Association Act. Streetfarmers' has been in existence for about two years, and is governed by bylaws carefully designed to guarantee a democratic organization giving every member equal voice in the determination of store policy and the election of the board of directors. All the stock available at Streetfarmers' is purchased, delivered, displayed and priced by co-op members. Fresh produce comes into the store on Saturday mornings. Two members of the produce buying collective turn off their alarms in the predawn hours to bargain with vendors in the Farmers Market. It takes a good memory to move from one seller to the next, remembering individual prices and quality. Armed with the produce inventory and shopping list compiled by the produce buying coordinator, the buyers make a second tour to pay for the fruits and vegetables they have selected. Produce is picked up by car or truck, delivered to the co-op, displayed and priced. The buyers' busy morning brings eager co-op members to the store. The tight heads of green broccoli, fresh stalks of celery, closed button mushrooms, colorful boxes of bananas, oranges and apples, along with tomatoes, avocados, carrots, potatoes, onions and seasonal fruits and vegetables disappear by the end of the day. Many people who come to shop stay to visit. Artists, carpenters, teachers and accountants, students, doctors, housewives and office workers. Young, middle-aged, and the older, and less affluent all meet here as friends. Curiosity about the white plastic pails lined up along floors and on shelves leads buyers to the discovery that natural foods, some organically grown, are also a- vailable. There are beans and peas, cereals, flours, dried fruits, grains and flakes, granola, nuts, seeds and nutritional yeast. In refrigerators, coolers and freezers are offerings of bread, cheese, eggs, frozen fish, nut butters, oil, whole wheat pasta and yogurt. Honey, molasses, tamari, and natural fruit juices occupy the shelves. A variety of cheeses at prices well below retail prices are available. Jarlsberg, muen- ster, havarti, komminost, mozzarella, monterey jack, baby swiss, brie and feta are purchased from a local importer. White, raw milk cheddar comes from a cooperative wharehouse in Austin, along with most of the bulk items available. Bulk purchase, of course, means savings for the consumer, so members do their own packaging, in containers brought from home. Shopping at Streetfarmers' takes more time than the local supermarket, because buyers service themselves. Still this casual approach to shopping allows time for talking with fellow members, and enhancing the communal sense of people working together for their common good. And this, after all, is the foundation of a cooperative endeavor. Because it is a member owned and operated store, all members are expected to contribute at least three hours each month to the operation of one of the four collectives which run the co-op. There is a non-working category for members whose schedules limit active participation—these members pay an added surcharge. Since the co-op has no other labor source, it is important that people who can work, do work. People over 65 and handicapped persons are exempted both from working and paying the surcharge. It has been difficult to find enough people either willing or able to provide sufficient work hours to keep the store open for long during the week. To compensate, Streetfarmers' has developed a unique policy. New members who make a committment as active workers may, after two months' membership, purchase a key to the store from the coordinator of their particular collective, enabling them to shop between shifts at their convenience. All financial transactions are on the honor system, and the universal honesty displayed has been a source of pride to the membership. The desire to find cheaper and better food has been the primary reason for co-op membership. However, members who have become actively involved in the operations find there are social rewards as well. There is a sense of community within a co-op difficult to find elsewhere. Members have diverse backgrounds, talents and experience, but all share an interest in the concept of a cooperative organization. Streetfarmers' Cooperative occupies the front of an old gas station at 1800 Waugh Drive in the Montrose area. There is no sign advertising its presence, and it isn't easy to find. Still, people interested in cooperatives as an alternative social institution manage to get there. Because the business establishment views cooperatives as a potential threat to their control of production and marketing, cooperatives do not have ready access to funding. They are always in financial need, and welcome the cash flow generated by new members. At Streetfarmers', limited financial resources mean members must accept humble surroundings and must participate in operating the store. Those persons willing to make a real committment will be rewarded by a congenial association with like-minded people. Store hours are: Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Phone: 527-0375. Page 18 February 1978 HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH Cullen Women's Center ~ offers Pregnancy Testing Problem Pregnancy Counseling and information. Call 733-5421 Monday - Saturday 9-5 pm