Access to organic food can be a rare commodity to come across. In 2020, 6% of food sales in the United States were organic, according to statistica. For those who live on campus at the University of New Mexico or in the surrounding area, La Montañita Co-op offers just that.
The Co-op has two locations – one in the North Valley on the corner of Matthew and Rio Grande Blvd., and the second on the corner of Carlise and Central in the Nob Hill Shopping Center. Before it closed in March of 2021, there was a smaller version of the Co-op on campus.
Founded in 1976, its first location resided on Girard and Central where Bosque Brewing is now established. There, the Co-op served over 300 local families with the objective being to serve healthy and local food to the people of Albuquerque.
Each department – whether it be deli, produce, bulk or groceries – has at least one item that was produced by a local farmer such as goat cheese from Tucumcari, fresh beets grown in Albuquerque and pecans from just outside Belen.
Jerry Anaya is a clerk in the produce section of the Nob Hill Co-op and has worked there for the past 18 years after leaving the corporate world.
“I came from a corporate world of dog-eat-dog, and I wasn’t good with it, so I tried to get involved with people who were more environmentally sustainable. And that’s exactly what the Co-op does,” Anaya said.
Places like the Co-op, Anaya said, can help sustain local farmers’ businesses.
“I believe in the local economy, supporting local businesses like farmers – no matter what they’re making,” Anaya said.
The shop being a co-operative means members are part-owners to the company. The shop is not limited to members, but those that are recieve benefits.
The annual membership for the Co-op is $15 annually, or a lifetime membership of $200. Members receive an annual patronage refund – a return on a portion of money spent at the end of the year. An owner discount is also offered twice a year where members are given 20% off of their entire purchase.
Ife Fidudusona has been working for 20 years at the Nob Hill Co-op starting back in 2003, and is known for making customers smile. Working for the La Montañita Co-op, Fidudagsona said, makes him feel like he’s back home in Nigeria with local fresh foods and the community that surrounds him like a family.
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“My favorite part about working at the Co-op is being a cashier and getting to talk to so many people. Every day is different people and it makes me happy,” Fidudusona said.
Because the Co-op is member-owned, their Board of Directors is also member-run and the elections are currently underway. The election will conclude in the middle of September. All members are eligible to participate and be elected for a three-year term.
“I think my favorite part about working here is being in the produce department – seeing and being able to provide some of the healthiest local produce in the whole state of New Mexico,” Anaya said. “ I just love the community."
BillyJack Davidson is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BillyJackDL
BillyJack Davidson is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached on Twitter @BillyJackDL