I BOUNDED off the Q train in Brooklyn one night last winter and headed to Union Street, past the yogurt shop and the firehouse, to do some grocery shopping. But my plans soon went awry. "You're suspended," the entrance worker at the Park Slope Food Coop announced as I swiped my membership card. Some entrance workers speak softly, but not this one. Worse, there were a dozen other shoppers within earshot. Flushed, defeated and taken aback — I knew I owed the co-op some work, but I didn't know I had been blacklisted — I slunk around the corner for a takeout burrito. But no amount of mushrooms and spinach could diminish my shame and guilt. Established in 1973, the co-op, with about 15,000 members who enjoy savings of up to 40 percent on environmentally friendly groceries, is one of the oldest, largest and most successful institutions of its kind in the country. Unlike many co-ops — including the Flatbush Food Coop in Brooklyn, where guests are allowed to shop without joining and members who don't want to serve work hours can pay a slight markup for items — Park Slope has one of the stiffest work requirements: 2.75 hours… Read full this story
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