Although it only lasted one year, a hippie commune in tiny Georgeville, MN changed the way the Twin Cities eats to this day. It was at the Georgeville commune that Susan Shroyer her husband Keith Ruona began to change the way they ate.
“It was someplace that I did learn a lot about cooking and food. We mostly ate vegetarian, but I've never been a vegetarian. It was just a matter of health and price. We grew most of our own food...
“We learned to eat better because we wanted to be healthier, and because of the political implications of eating processed foods. And it was much cheaper.”
It was cheaper because they were buying in bulk.
“We started going to a bakery supply house in Minneapolis, Dvorak Bakery Supply House. And that's where I learned how to get food inexpensively, because at that point there were only health food stores. At some point Keith Ruona and I went out to San Francisco. We visited health food stores out there, we visited one of the traditional co-ops out there. So we were really interested in food.”
They took these lessons with them when they moved to a house in Minneapolis established by fellow Georgeville communard Ed Felien as the staff commune for Minneapolis’ first counterculture newspaper, Hundred Flowers. Susan and Keith threw their time into the Peoples’ Pantry, an informal bulk food store that had been set up on Diana Szostek and Alvin Oderman’s back porch on the West Bank.
The Peoples’ Pantry went through several locations before transforming into North Country Co-op, the Cities’ first natural food co-op and progenitor of our co-op system today, the largest in the country. Natural food co-ops like North Country helped millions of people across the country educate themselves and eat better food, starting a wave of attention to food and farming that has spread to the mainstream.
Check out this clip from Ed Felien’s experimental documentary, which was shot in the commune in 1970. And yes, that is a shot of a real white dove of peace sitting in front of a pamphlet entitled “Alienated Students.”