A Coop Grows In Brooklyn

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by Diana Hembree

Central Brooklyn organizers combat rampant gentrification and high food prices by starting a member-owned food coop.

Brooklyn is fast becoming a dining destination for iconic regional food, but some residents have to take a subway to find a good tomato or head of lettuce, according to Brooklyn resident Bianca Bockman.

“When some think of Brooklyn food, it’s often farm-to-table restaurants, bottomless mimosa brunch and farmer’s markets that come to mind,” says Bockman, head of the Food Justice Programs at RiseBoro Community Partnership in Brooklyn. “However, there are communities of long-term Central Brooklyn residents who have been left behind by this food boom. In a community where the ratio of grocery stores to bodegas is 1:57, residents aren’t looking for the next Instagrammable restaurant—they just want a dependable source for affordable, healthy food.”

And such food is hard to come by in central Brooklyn. “Bodegas: we need them. We love them. They’re great,” Alexis Harrison, a central Brooklyn resident and partnerships coordinator for the BedStuy Restoration Corporation, told reporters. “But the level of quality produce that they’re providing versus what grocery stores should be providing isn’t balanced. And that ultimately hinders our ability to live out healthy lives.”

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