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Raw Life Food Co-op Comes To Peekskill

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- Nancy Durand-Lanson founded Raw Life a decade ago, because of the expensive produce and groceries at her local store.

"My daughter, who was barely one year old, just refused to go to the store and she couldn't stand being in the car and I was frustrated with the quality and the price that I had to pay in order to feed my kids," Durand-Lanson. "I thought if I'm having that problem I'm sure more than one family has the same problem."

Durand-Lanson started out in her basement in Ossining and later moved to a location in Montrose. Last year, she and her fellow co-op members moved to a new location in Peekskill and have been getting ready to become fully operational -- until now.

"We were so very busy organizing things and raising membership, but now we feel that we're in a secure enough place that we can say, ‘yes, we're here and we're open,’" Durand-Lanson said.

On Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Durand-Lanson will celebrate the Peekskill location at 913 South St., next to Ciro’s Restaurant. City officials will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony to help welcome the co-op to the city and Durand-Lanson said she hopes the new location will help the co-op grow.

"It was a cooperative decision that we wanted as many people as possible to enjoy the benefits of what we are doing," she said.

Durand-Lanson orders her produce, poultry and dairy products from local farms such as Hemlock Hill, Milton-Hepworse, Lucky Dog and Cortlandt Manor Honey.

"We serve two purposes: to connect people to farms and to allow everyday people to buy organic foods when they wouldn't have the means to buy it at Ms. Green's or Whole Foods because it's too expensive," Durand-Lanson said.

The co-op recycles plastic, wax cardboards from weekly fresh produce, egg cartons with chicken farms and batteries, and has a compost in the back room. For people to take part in the co-op they must join. To do so, they must go through a four-week mentoring program. To keep costs low, Raw Life has a "self check-out" system: Members fill out their personal information such as name, address, phone number and email, and write their own shopping lists.

Payment by check or cash is based on honor code. Each member volunteers three hours a month, which also keeps costs down. Raw Life has a website, www.rawlife.memberlodge.org, where readers can get more information about joining the co-op and has also started a page on Facebook.com.

Would you consider joining this co-op or a similar one? Let us know in the comments section below.

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