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Syracuse Real Food Co-op among the cutting edge of really green grocers

Co-op can be pricey

However, despite its idealistic motivations, the co-op has its share of problems. Its goal of supporting local businesses raises the price of goods in the store, and some customers notice.

"For me, the co-op is a little pricey," said Stefanie Sigrist, a resident of the Westcott community and occasional co-op shopper. "I have to watch my budget," she added.

The narrow selection of products deters some shoppers as well. Sigrist said she does most of her shopping at Wegman's, a supermarket that also offers a variety of natural foods and organic produce. Sigrist said she prefers Wegman's for its "price and selection."

"The co-op doesn't have quite the selection I need. But it's perfect for the quick trip. If I need some spinach or an avocado, I go there," she said.

Sigrist likes the idea of supporting local farmers, but the concept doesn't quite fit into her budget or her busy schedule as a retail clerk.

"I certainly support it, and I'll try to buy it whenever I can," Sigrist said. "But time isn't in my favor there."

Anytime of year works

Within the co-op, time seems to slow down. Shoppers stroll leisurely through aisles. They take the time to study labels and read the descriptions of the local farms taped to shelves and freezers. Spontaneous conversations between shoppers and workers can be heard coming from the next aisle. The time of year is marked tangibly on the produce table, with a display of winter squash and yams.

"Everything on this table is what's coming out of the ground now," Stone said.

He pats a squash, making a satisfying "thump."

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