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Israel launches first cooperative supermarket

The cooperative supermarket, together with the social bank, are first steps in a long-term plan by Israeli social justice activists to make the public into "educated consumers."
TEL AVIV,ISRAEL - JULY 07: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis buy organic tomatoes during the Live Earth concert in Tel Aviv, Israel, July 7, 2007 as part of the 24-hour global concert series to raise awareness about climate change.(Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
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On the morning of April 14, less than 12 hours before the traditional Passover holiday dinner, a quick visit to a supermarket called Shelanu (Hebrew for "Ours") in the east Bitzaron neighborhood of Tel Aviv reveals little activity. The few shoppers move lethargically among the aisles. Not a single one of them, by the way, is one of 500 members who each paid 1,000 shekels ($290) to join the social-economic cooperative founded at the end of 2011, because it has yet to start an intensive membership drive.

Not far from there, at a huge chain supermarket, it's mayhem: carts laden with produce roll through the massive parking lot, sometimes more than one cart to a customer. Israelis have not yet changed their consumption habits, despite their anger at the large retail chains. They refuse to stop buying there, not even on "Supermarket Free Day" declared this year on April 1.

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