The Bulk Food Store (aka ‘the Food Co-op’)

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by Annie McCluskey

Early this year, I started volunteering at the Narara Ecovillage bulk food store for two hours each week. I really enjoy this role, as it allows me to meet more village members and learn about food, while contributing to our community.

Six village volunteers run the store, which opens at least twice a week.

The store was started in 2017 with the aim of providing locally-produced and organic products where possible, and reducing packaging, food miles and prices.

The store started with a limited range of dry items, such as flour, rice, chickpeas, lentils, toilet paper and laundry liquid.

Four years later, our inventory has increased exponentially. We now supply organic chocolate and carob, dried mushrooms & fruit, olive oil, almond/soy/ rice milk, aged balsamic vinegar and various types of pasta.

Many varieties of (mostly organic) flour are available for home bread-makers, including wheat, besan, tapioca, coconut, buckwheat, rye & quinoa. Recently we have even been able to supply fresh vegetables from our community garden, including pumpkins and sweet potatoes.

We are always looking for ways to improve and market bulk food items to the village. For instance, we suggest meals that can be made with ingredients such as polenta (for instance Nigella’s lemon and polenta cake), miso paste (nutritious soups with noodles, seaweed and an egg), and molasses (add it to your muesli or bread). I like to ask people what they plan to cook with an ingredient, and this gives me ideas for my own cooking.

The bulk food store is just one of the unexpected benefits of living in this energetic, generous & connected community.