An Ode to the Wedge Coop (or, the retraining of my Old Brain)

Last fall, I was challenged by a new client.  She’d jump on the Catalyst Cooks wagon if I could commit to:

Harumph.

My approach to grocery shopping was built around some corner cubicle, engineer- and process-loving corporate principles.  I could stop at my local big box, Urban Cub, and be out of there in 25 minutes with $200 worth of food.

I’ve been shopping at Urban Cub since I moved to SW Minneapolis (14 years ago!) and I know the layout of that store like the back of my hand.  I bet I could do it blindfolded.  No Six Sigma, Kaizen, Process Improvement needed for my grocery shopping- I’ve got that bad boy so streamlined there were no improvements to be had.

Plus I always thought I was getting such a great deal.  While I wasn’t any “Extreme Coupon”er, and I’ve always spent more time in the Produce and Meat sections than the cookie and cracker aisle (meaning there were fewer coupons available- much of my Sunday coupon inserts went straight to recycling); I did frequently use that enticing $5 off coupon Cub sent to my doorstep.  Cost Savings!  Yay!

What could possibly trump a Fantastic Process with fantastic Cost Savings?

I was reticent when I met with this new client, DeAnne, to ask “what organic and natural” meant to her.  Reluctant to adjust what has worked for me for years and years.  Rebelling against change.

But I wanted her business.  I went to the Wedge.  Decided to try this new way of grocery shopping on for size.  Worst case, I could go back to my old ways.

I’m a convert.  Why?

My Process is just as easy.  Where Cub is 20 blocks to the south, Wedge is 20 blocks to the north.  Getting through the store is time neutral.  The Wedge is probably 1/10th the size of Cub- less real estate to cover- with less of the processed food that I never purchased anyway.  I don’t wait in line at the Wedge- lots of cashiers and baggers are at the ready to help- always.  And on big food holidays (Thanksgiving for example)- the Wedge has cops helping to direct parking lot traffic.  Sweet!

My Costs are a bit higher (to the tune of about 5%- a manageable number in my budget).  This includes the $80 investment in a membership, which may have some additional financial benefit that I haven’t yet taken into account.

More compelling is how my Philosophy, and what’s important to me, has evolved:

  • I avoid Antibiotics and Hormones in meat, and therefore my money doesn’t perpetuate their effects (For more on this topic, read Food Matters by Mark Bittman- or check this out, just published today).
  • I choose bulk (oils, vinegars, grains, produce, flour/sugar, meat) - I buy exactly the quantity I need, without packaging – which results in more turns and less waste.
  • I buy fresher, brighter and yummier food (think citrus flavor in zest or juice, the green/grassy taste of meat, the crisp and color of produce).
  • I am drawn to local food and providers.  More of my money is going to the local economy… and less is going to transportation costs or mass production agribusinesses.

It’s definitely easier to buy within these parameters at the Wedge than it would be at Cub.

Thank you for challenging me, DeAnne.  I’m learning more about food, I’m changing my philosophy, and the new Catalyst Cooks out there will benefit!

5 comments to An Ode to the Wedge Coop (or, the retraining of my Old Brain)

  • Yay! I remember when we talked about this. I’m so glad you like the Wedge. The other benefit is that the people are happy and nice there. Not that there aren’t happy, nice people at Cub, but there aren’t as many (in my experience). I often wonder if that’s ’cause they are eating crappy food. I have found the Wedge to be only slightly more expensive when I factor in my annual dividend/rebate check. Be well!

    • Thanks Faith! Yes, it’s been a great thing for me/my clients. I still stop at Cub about once every 6 weeks to get a couple of things I can’t buy at the Wedge, but find that everything about shopping at the Wedge is more pleasureable. Yay!

  • Molly Hull

    Aww, crap. I guess we better go there. I can happily skip the initiation fee since my lovely husband already belongs!!!!

    • Can’t hurt to try it. Terence and I had a good conversation the other day about how meat production is influenced by food policy, and how food policy impacts agriculture, and how agriculture impacts our environment, and…. it’s all convinced me to make an even larger effort to support local sustainable suppliers and stores.

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