Five Tips to Help You Through the Social Nightmare That is the Food Coop

Today is Monday which means that it’s the day to pick up food from the co-op we’ve joined. The thing about the coop is that you see the same people every week. It’s like everyone knows each other. They joke around, and chat, and when they ask how you’re doing they seem to really want an honest answer. What’s up with that?

If I want to buy cheese, I have to ask someone to weigh it out for me. That means I have to know how much I want. Who knows something like that? I’m not sure what a pound of cheese looks like. I never paid attention when buying cheese before. Can you see how stressful this is? As a result I never buy cheese.

Sometimes I want the anonymous shopping experience of Publix where I can buy cheese without having to talk to anyone, avoid making eye contact with other human beings, and only have to give one word answers to any questions the cashier might ask me.

I’ve been going to the same food coop for a number of years now. Even though it still stresses me out, I’ve learned how to get through the experience. Here are some tips to help you deal with your own coop social nightmare.


1. Bring your own bags for produce. Everyone will like you more if you have your own bags. They should be reusable and preferably not plastic. If they’re not plastic everyone will love you. We all want to be loved.

2. When someone sidles up to you while you’re picking out cucumbers to tell you about how changing their diet to paleo or raw vegan or whatever the heck they’re doing completely cured them of psoriasis or chronic fatigue syndrome, or Hashimoto’s disease, or depression, or constipation, or shyness, simply nod, smile, and pretend to listen.

3. When you accidentally spill red lentils all over the floor, laugh it off, and help clean it up. Fight the urge to run from the building sobbing. No one likes a running sobber.

4. When someone starts telling you about her amazing home birth experience as you get a container of Amish butter from the fridge pretend to listen. When she’s through detailing how she froze and ate the placenta, smile and say, “That’s interesting. I’ve always wondered about that.” If you are brave you may ask her what it tasted like. Avoid gagging or passing out. Don’t tell her that you are barren. That only leads to pity and pity sucks.

5. When you check out help bag, but don’t help too much. They have a system and your clumsy hands are probably messing it up. It’s important to look helpful while not interfering. This is accomplished by talking about bagging rather than actually doing anything.

6. Say goodbye when you leave. Not everyone understands the need to disappear unnoticed through the door. If you don’t want to get kicked out of the coop for good always say goodbye. It doesn’t matter if everyone in the place ignores you. Just say goodbye and leave as quickly as possible. Wait until you get home to have your nervous breakdown in the car.


  1. says

    Haha. I’ve never been to a food co-op, and you don’t really make a strong argument for me wanting to go to one ever. LOL. Especially if there are #4s walking around spilling the stories.

  2. says

    LOL! Okay … I’ve had a lot of people, total strangers, come up to me and just start talking (go figure) … but freezing and eating a placenta? Oh My! Yeah, “losing it” on “New Mom’s” shoes would probably be considered rude. ;-)

  3. says

    Oh oh the co-op. Second only to the farmer’s market in “places you should be able to go unshowered, and in PJs but in fact have become so scene-y” You nailed it with the psoriasis/ frozen plancental pairing. So funny.
    I have been practicing “the ghost” at real social functions. As counter intuitive as it seems the co- op people want you to say good bye, a nod to the meaningful times you have shared getting non bioengineered vegetables.” You real life friends however, dont want to hear goodbye. At least at parties. There is the obligatory ooooo you have to leave so soon, how about one more komboocha vodka? Its like the party has begun to die with your departure. So I just slip away and send a note (and by note I mean text obviously, I dont live in olden times, all of my quills are dry.)