The Willamette Food Cooperative

The Willamette food cooperative was created in an old store from the ground-up and already boasts 500 members in two months' time.

| July/August 1970

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    After two months of successful operation, the co-op membership has voted to shift the emphasis to more natural and health foods.
    Photo by Paul Peterson/Eugene Register-Guard

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Republished with permission from the Eugene Register-Guard.  

"Dan's wife" makes the bagels; Mrs. Neusihin makes the pickles. Granola — "a cereal that really stays crisp" — is 60 cents a pound packaged; if you bring your own container it's 55 cents and you can buy as much or as little as you need.

Willamette People's Cooperative, the corner grocery store which sells these items, is a booming business. Two months old, the grocery at 22nd and Emerald has over 500 members (at 5 dollars a share) and is grossing 700 to 800 dollars a day. Already there is talk about starting another food cooperative to handle a volume which surprises even the organizers.

The food cooperative was started by a group of University of Oregon students and their friends who wanted to sell groceries at lower prices and to sell an idea — that a sense of community can be created through common cause and need.

Transportation problems have blighted that community spirit somewhat but volunteer sales help (20 to 30 clerks who work without pay) continues strong behind the counter.

The co-op buys a lot of its stock in Portland and from farmers, slaughterhouses and wholesalers around the country. People have given cars (some of which won't run) to the store for pickup runs by volunteer drivers. But occasionally you won't find the Tillamook cheddar which sells at 81 cents a pound or fresh eggs for 66 cents a dozen.

Pete Nightingale
5/16/2009 1:38:51 AM

I have been a longtime fan of Mrs. Neusihin's pickles. There is nothing like them on earth. But I was dismayed recently when I happened to read the label that they came from Wisconsin. Mrs. Neusihin started making pickles in her basement in Portland, Oregon years ago. Have they moved the plant or did some out of state company buy them and still make them in Portland? Also, is there any way I can get her recipie? Pete from Powers

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