As those check the Vegan Moxie Facebook page know, last Monday was a busy one for me, but definitely the best kind of busy.
I attended the Tacoma Food Co-Op member meeting (my first since joining) at the Evergreen State College Tacoma campus that evening to be a part of the discussion about the official purchase of the retail location at what is now the Neighborhood Market, as well as ways in which the organization plans to keep fundraising. For those who aren’t quite as familiar with TFC or up-to-date on recent developments, let me get you up to speed.
As of April 24 the Co-Op has 500 members (maybe more now!), but in order to actually get the store up and running and hire the General Manger (who will learn the basics of the store before seeking out the other employees to join), more funds need to be raised. At the meeting, board members went into further detail about this.
“Although this is a huge milestone, we still have a lot of work ahead of us. We need to raise $300-400,000 to hire our General Manager and staff, complete minor modifications to the store, and begin purchasing inventory.”
The way that TFC has identified being able to raise this much money is what they call their “investment vehicle,” in which members pledge to invest in the Co-Op. This money isn’t guaranteed to be returned to the individuals that give it, but if the Co-Op eventually does well there could be modest returns. At the meeting board members tried to affirm the fact that investing larger amounts of money (the base amount for this type of investment is described as $500, but payments can be made) is making an investment in the community, not in their stock portfolios. No one should invest assuming they will make large returns, or any at all, and hopefully there are enough individuals in the community willing to do so despite this uncertainty and the economic climate.
Members were recently emailed a survey asking how much they’d be willing to invest, and a few said up to $10,000, so hopefully Tacoma does have some interested and generous individuals willing to help make this much needed cooperative finally happen in our city. I’ve been a member of Madison Market Co-Op in Seattle since I used to live on Capitol Hill, and I absolutely adore it. Their bulk section is amazing, their organic and vegan items are plentiful, the produce unmatched and knowing that I’m an owner of the market is a great feeling. I still stop in nearly every time I’m in the area as the store just has a great aura about it and it gives me fond memories of all of the picnics, parties and dinners that benefited from food and items found at the co-op. To have one in Tacoma would be a dream come true, and I think it would become an asset to the city in time as people learned more about co-ops and how they can greatly benefit a community.
If you’d like more information about the Tacoma Food Co-Op or have questions about becoming a member, there are some more upcoming Coffee Talks coming up this month where you can ask questions, meet board members and find out what the Co-Op’s next steps are. Check out their newly updated website and Facebook page for info on specific dates and other news.
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After I stayed at the TFC meeting for about 40 minutes, I rushed over to King’s Books to make the South Sound Vegans’ monthly book club meeting. This month there were more members in attendance (about nine) and the book discussed was Melanie Joy’s “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism.”
As I briefly mentioned in a previous post, I started reading this book early and finished it pretty fast, and that’s because I found it so engrossing. The way in which Joy conveyed her ideas in this book were appealing to me because they were from a psychologist’s point of view, which is a bit different from that of most vegan books. Usually, they’re written from members of one of two camps: diehard, long-time vegans, vegetarians and animal rights activists and doctors/scientists. One side some may find biased, and the other some may find to be really hard to read or quite dense if you don’t have a science-related degree. With Joy, this isn’t the case as she is a psychology professor who truly knows how to break concepts and thoughts down into terms anyone who’s ever taken a basic psychology course (or to even those who haven’t) can understand.
Her arguments are strong and are based in sound theories, not illogical or disjointed statements or opinions. The book is extremely well-written while also portraying vivid and graphic images of how animals are killed to produce food and products for humans and also putting a name on this act: carnism. It lays plain the incongruity that has become the American diet: eating and wearing animals while also claiming to love others as pets. She reaffirms the fact that this is an easy state to fall into because slaughterhouses are hidden, videos showing the ways in which these animals are killed and processed are few and those that do exist are sometimes removed, further eliminating them from the public, (a recent example: a video of an undercover investigative video by Mercy For Animals, showing cruelty to calves at a Texas cattle company was removed by YouTube). And there’s a reason that these businesses are keeping these animals’ deaths invisible – so that people will keep buying their products without question. For those who’d like their ethics to line up with their actions, vegetarianism and inevitably veganism are, according to Joy, the logical next steps.
The last idea I’ll highlight from the book is the notion of the “Three Ns of Justification.”
“There is a vast mythology surrounding meat, but all the myths are in one way or another related to what I refer to as the Three Ns of Justification: eating meat is normal, natural and necessary. The Three Ns have been invoked to justify all exploitative systems, from African slavery to the Nazi Holocaust. When an ideology is in its prime, these myths rarely come under scrutiny. However, when the system finally collapses, the Three Ns are recognized as ludicrous.”
I felt that these justifications truly resonated with me, because I’ve heard them countless times since going vegetarian and vegan. A few examples: ‘God put animals on this earth to be eaten,’ ‘People were born to eat meat,’ ‘How can you get your protein if you don’t eat meat?!’ etc. When put into this context, I feel that individuals reading this book who may never have thought about the reasons why they eat meat, (other than it’s what they’ve always done/have been raised to do), may actually stop and question their habits and try to see if they line up with their beliefs. I never attempt to push my beliefs about veganism on anyone and generally only discuss it when asked, but if anyone ever asks for book recommendations on why to go vegan, this book will definitely now be at the top of my list. Whether you are a curious meat-loving carnivore, a vegetarian looking to possibly transition or a long-time vegan, I think anyone could benefit from reading the book, and possibly giving their diet and lifestyle further contemplation as a result of Joy’s effort.
The next book club meeting for the South Sound Vegan Meetup takes place on Tuesday, May 24 at 7 p.m. at King’s Books, and the book to be discussed is “Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?” by Anthony J. Nocella II and Steven Best, PhD. Copies of the book are available now at King’s Books. Check out the meetup’s new Facebook page, and join the discussion at the next meeting if you can!