I’m writing this letter in response to Friday’s article in the 3300 minutes section (“Discovering the Joys of Collegiate Cooking,” Daily Nexus, Oct. 14). I commend you for choosing to feature an article that highlights the importance of food and nutrition, especially when we all know that your diet is probably the first thing to be compromised when you get out on your own and you don’t have anyone but yourself to make sure you are eating well. With all of the fast-food choices surrounding us on campus and in Isla Vista, I was really happy to see that you made so many easy “slow cooking” options accessible for those that may have not yet discovered the joys of cooking. What I don’t understand is why we weren’t included.

Let me explain. Your writer, whom I’m sure learned a lot herself while preparing for this large article, mentions that “for organic foods and trans-fat-free items, hit one of Trader Joe’s several locations in Goleta and SB” (4A). Well, you see, I work at this little natural foods store in Isla Vista. Maybe you’ve heard of us, the I.V. Food Co-op. We have been in I.V. since 1972 and we’ve been selling the residents of I.V. local, fresh and organic food since then as well. I guess I just don’t get it.

I went to UCSB, graduated, traveled around the world and then came right back to Isla Vista. Why? Because I still wanted the co-op to be part of my life. I work at the most knowledgeable, most friendly, fun, brightest, beautiful and happiest place to buy organic food not only in Santa Barbara, but probably in all of California. I don’t understand why in the world you’d drive all the way to Trader Joe’s, pay for gas to get there and then pay money for “organic” produce that’s wrapped in so much plastic, you can’t even feel your tomato to see if its ripe, when we are right here in Isla Vista. The last time I checked, plastic wasn’t even on the list of certified organic foods, so I’m not even sure if what you’re paying for is really “organic” in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not upset that the co-op was overlooked for the sake of the co-op. I’m upset that everyone that reads the Nexus wasn’t even offered the choice of shopping at what I feel is the most amazing place to buy food anywhere in this town. What we offer goes far beyond organic produce (especially organic produce that was flown in from wherever in the world).

If you’ve never walked into the co-op before, I personally invite you to stop by. Even if you do all of your shopping somewhere else, I know that if you walk into the co-op just one time, you’ll come back. You’ll be tempted by our crazy huge selection of local and organic produce for sure, but that’s just barely the beginning. Wait until you see what’s around the corner from there — we may look small from the outside, but I assure that our shelves are bursting with the most delicious foods, most unique books, most beautiful house wares, beer and wine that you can’t get anywhere else, and so much more. Not to mention that we don’t even have an owner who profits from us.

We’re not like those huge faceless corporations such as Albertson’s, Vons and your beloved Trader Joe’s that tell you what to buy determined by computer statistics and marketing ploys. Every item on our shelf has been requested at one time or another by someone who shops here. We’ve been owned by the people that shop here since our doors weren’t even open to the public yet, all the way back in the ’70s. We are even controlled by our members, including me. So, next time you’re about to get in your car to drive all the way out of I.V. to buy your food, how about you put on your walking shoes or hop on your bike or skateboard instead, and stop by? We’re open until 10 p.m. every night, and we’re always happy to be here. Thanks for your time and thanks for letting us be part of your community for over 30 years.

The Co-op is located at 6575 Seville Road in I.V., open every day from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Melissa Cohen is on the board of directors for the I.V. Food Co-op.