Iris found herself gravitating towards the Co-op in 1998 on her mission to source ingredients for a wholefood veggie diet.
Iris has impressively been a vegetarian since 1976 where she spent many years in London, including some time in a locally based vegetable and fruit buying co-op. Joining the Co-op after moving to Dublin, she soon became a volunteer and has the nice memory of remembering Co-op founding member Padraig Cannon showing her how to fill the packets of beans.
“I had spent most of my working life in London and had never lived in Dublin, so the Co-op was an important avenue to integration. In my last years in London I had been in a vegetable delivery box scheme, and in comparison, I found the Co-op a very vibrant place. I loved the fact that I could meet the actual growers at the Co-op, as well as an array of suppliers, like the woman who came all the way from Cavan with goat milk and marmalade”
Like many Co-op members, Iris wants a source of food that is grown organically, free of chemicals and pesticides. When thinking about what is most important about being a member of the Co-op:
“I want to eat in a way that does not support the big corporate interests. I want to support small growers who are farming in ways that promote biodiversity. While I think our planet’s survival depends on people lessening their meat and fish eating, I see no point in being zealous on this subject. However, I do appreciate being in a space free of meat and fish.”
On the topic of food at the Co-op, Iris admits that while supermarkets have extended their reach to vegetarian and vegan products, she depends on the Co-op for fresh pulses and grains. These are all dried goods that keep for months, but chickpeas bought in the Co-op for example, will cook much more quickly than their equivalents in supermarkets. The Co-op brings together most of the items Iris wants to buy for a wholefood veggie diet within a small space. She applauds the Co-op for establishing links with community gardens, like Cherry Orchard, that brings us fresh salad leaves and vegetables.
“As someone sheltering at home during periods of covid, I felt very grateful to the Co-op volunteers who delivered food to our door.”
More recently, she believes, the outdoors gatherings have helped keep alive the idea that we are a diverse group of people coming together around a common aim. The offshoots, like the Co-op walking group and the discussion group are enriching additions.
And what is important for the future? Iris wants to live in a vibrant city that has alternative ways to shop, socialise, and exercise, than those ways that are promoted by profit driven entities and interests.