Ventura Food Co-op and Slow Food Ventura County host benefit dinner

by Chris O’Neal

We live in the land of agricultural abundance, and now a group of locals are shining a spotlight on our bounty by working toward opening a co-op grocery store in Ventura. Next Thursday, Slow Food Ventura County will host a benefit dinner to get the Ventura Food Co-Op out of the gate and running.

The “Inizio della Primavera” dinner by Chef Juan Agustin will feature locally sourced wine and beer to pair with a vegetarian and vegan-friendly menu utilizing produce and other ingredients from The Abundant Table CSA, Shepherd Eggs, McGrath Family Farms and others.

Ventura Food Co-Op co-founder and chair of the steering committee Ally Gialketsis has been working with her peers for close to two years to bring a community-owned grocery store to Ventura and is now in the organizing stage. The co-op will pay the $800 state incorporation fee from funds raised by the dinner.

“The feedback we’ve received from the community is that people would like to have a focus on natural food, especially organic and local,” said Gialketsis. “Since it’s owned by people in the community, the interest is for the community, so there’s a higher focus on regionally sourced goods.”

Further money raised by the event exceeding $800 will go to benefit the co-op up to $2,000, and any more than that will benefit Slow Food Ventura County.

Slow Food began as an international organization in Rome, Italy, as opposition to a McDonald’s opening in the 1980s. “It was all about protecting food culture, artisans and producers that made up the culture of life,” says Slow Food Ventura County Chair Charles Barth. From there, the movement spread in the U.S., with chapters popping up throughout the country.

Barth says that the benefit dinner to be held in Ventura food branding company the DuPuis Group’s offices in downtown Ventura, is part of a number of events held by Slow Food to support the local community.

“One of the important things about the Ventura Food Co-op is that its members are members of so many other organizations that are doing good in food and food justice,” said Barth, noting that many co-op members are also members of The Abundant Table CSA, FOOD Forward and so on.

The benefit will take place on Thursday, March 31, 6:30-9:30 p.m. at 394 E. Main St., Ventura. Tickets are $75. For more information, visit and search “Slow Food Ventura County.”