Photography by Michelle Kilfeather
Celia LoBuono Gonzalez joins us on the show this episode to share her story and that of Other Avenues Grocery Cooperative. Part 1 starts off with Celia sharing the story of her life up to the point of getting a job at Other Avenues. From there, we pivot to the colorful and, we think, important story of food in San Francisco and the Bay Area starting in the 1960s.
From a collection of neighborhood clubs called the Food Conspiracy, whose motto was, "If you can't walk to Food Conspiracy, it's time for a new Food Conspiracy," to the People's Food System, which included Other Avenues, Rainbow Grocery, Veritable Vegetable, and other co-ops that don't exist anymore, there's proof all over today that cooperative models work. We like the sound of that, in fact, compared to competitive businesses.
Other Avenues' doors opened in 1974. By 1987, a hybrid system of worker and community management was adopted. And the worker-owned model that exists today started back in 1999.
In Part 2, the conversation starts with food, food systems, and how humans can better steward the land and sea in our daily and collective lives.
Celia talks about how, with co-ops, money generally stays in the community. After a quick aside for Jeff's lasagna story, we discuss food preservation and distribution, the myth of food scarcity, and the idea of growing food in urban centers. Then Celia tells us about some other new co-ops opening in the Bay Area before sharing what it was like for her and Other Avenues during thepandemic. She says that the biggest challenge was the keeping up with and enforcing the ever-changing rules.
US Federation of Worker Coops
La Via Campesina