Many of the people who started the first natural food co-ops had cut their teeth in, or at least been inspired by, two other movements: the Civil Rights movement and the movement against the Vietnam War. Dave Gutknecht, longtime editor of Cooperative Grocer, was instrumental in the Twin Cities Draft Information Center, which was founded in 1967 and destroyed by a bomb blast soon after, but relocated and became a vital center for activism. From Craig Cox’s book Storefront Revolution:
“In their book The Resistance, Staughton Lynd and Michael Ferber characterized the center as one of the most smoothly run in the country. There was a work ethic at TCDIC that Lynd and Ferber found seldom displayed at other resistance centers. Long hours, solid execution, and precise division of labor characterized the organization…”
Dave himself was prosecuted twice for refusing the draft. His first case went all the way to the US Supreme Court and resulted in his acquittal. But he was drafted again while working at Mill City Co-op (which was on Bloomington Avenue & 26th St.) and served a year-and-a-half in Sandstone Federal Prison. Since then he has applied his work ethic as a co-op journalist, helping the food co-ops survive by sharing information and learning lessons from each others’ experience.
Also featured in this video is Roberta Malles, who tells the story of being tracked down by the FBI at North Country Co-op. Help us share the important story of these co-op pionners by donating at Seed & Spark, and following us on Facebook, andTwitter.