Editor’s note: We kicked off our first annual Food Loves Tech event last summer in Chelsea—here’s a recap. We’re bringing a taste of the food and farming future back this year, but just across the East River at Industry City. This story is part of an ongoing series about technology’s effects on our food supply.
Famous alternative supermarket, Park Slope Food Coop opened in 1973, long before the sharing the economy, emails or text messages were everyday things. The coop started publishing its newsletter, The Linewaiter’s Gazette, a year later in 1974, and while the work-to-shop grocery store known for its incredible prices, quality and rules has thrived, and even added a website, not much else in terms of how the coop uses technology to update its dedicated member base has changed through the years, until now.
Meet the Park Slope Coop App. Created by member Jonah Burke the free app for iOS users, sends out a daily list of new produce, offers information on local farms, and lets users see what fruits and vegetables are available locally. Coop members can also use it to remind themselves of their work shifts and die-hard coop fans can even search archives of The Linewaiter’s Gazette, issues dating back to 1999 are available on the app. A search for “cheese,” for example, yields a photo essay on cheese-slicers from the year 2000.
The app is bare bones but simple to use. Upon opening it you’re greeted with a screen listing the current coop and office hours, what week it is, a slot to update your work shift (you enter your workslot, and the app calculates your next five shifts), a list of new produce arrivals and the option to call the office. From there you can search for produce or peruse those old issues of the gazette—a Brooklyn history treasure trove.
“I think a lot of people will just have fun with it: learning about produce and farms, enjoying the food words in the daily updates. Some folks will want to check if a favorite item has come in, and other people will probably use it to learn about new fruits and vegetables,” Burke said. “My hope is that people will download the app and tell me what they’d find useful.”
The app is still a work in progress. Burke created it as a way to learn a new programming language and to say “thank you” to what he says is one of his favorite Brooklyn institutions. Coop staff reviewed the app and sent suggestions as he was developing it and Burke is now working to add a seasonality calendar based on historical data, a price graph and possibly recipes. Like the coop itself, perhaps it will be a model for others going forward.