Literary Hook: Exploring the cornucopia of the Port Townsend Food Co-Op

By Christine Swanberg
Author and Poet

Centrum Center for the Arts, on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, offers residencies for writers and other artists. The center itself is at old Fort Warden. Perhaps you remember An Officer and a Gentleman, which was filmed there. The backdrop is Puget Sound.

Port Townsend itself is a Victorian fishing village-turned-liberal-outpost. It is perhaps the most progressive small community I have ever encountered. One of my favorite activities there is shopping at the Port Townsend Food Co-Op. Here is a poem celebrating that experience after last week’s residency.

Port Townsend Food Co-Op

A sense of intention permeates the aisles,

a supposition turned into a reality,

a trend transformed into a staple.

Here staples do not clamor for attention,

but in their lovely, still bins beckon

an invitation to health.

Here simplicity is elegant,

and a quiet, post-consumer joy

whispers, “It’s time. It’s time.”

It’s time to care where food comes from,

who processed it, how, and why;

time to measure what we take from this earth.

Here food is science, art and spirit:

Port Townsend Bay Organic Coffee,

smooth blend to start your day with a purr,

red dried apricots to keep the engine running smooth;

crunchy trail mix to sustain the engine.

So many raw, virginal foods to keep it revved!

This is a place that returns to a gusty palette

of dark, delicious strong cheese,

a cornucopia of untainted vegetables,

a grinder for fresh cashew or almond butter,

a juice bar where a burst of sun and ginger

keeps the pipes rolling like STP.

A meal here has a different kind of class:

honey-roasted golden beets with a little crunch,

purple, orange and green garbanzo salads.

People arrive on bikes and with dogs

in patriotic bandanas who wait

as they shop carefully for clove shampoo,

toothpaste free of toxins and full of herbs,

talking to friends in aisles, in

a post-consumer community, where everyone

knows that having too much

no longer defines success, and happiness

shines in the sheer harmony of living well.

Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet.

From the Oct. 20-26, 2010 issue

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