I'm a member of both Fiddleheads Foods Coop in New London, and of Willimantic Food Coop. With its all-volunteer work force during its first three years, Fiddleheads is a testament to community cooperation and to each individual’s idealism. After three years, it became financially stable and could hire its long overdue first of several paid employees. After seven years since opening, it now is a firmly established institution, and New Londoners probably wonder how they ever survived without it. Its meteoric rise is both amazing and heartwarming! I love and respect and am grateful to all the people who work here, and especially its managers and board of directors who do most of the work, and to the farmers who sell their produce here.
Fiddleheads serves two hot soups available until 6pm for eat-in or takeout as of mid-2014 made by Mangetout, the café nearby on State Street, of which one is always vegan. Previous to mid-2014, their soups were made by the hot dog eatery next door, and the vegan soups were horrible, not to mention of nefarious origin. Now the vegan soups are good, because the chef of Mangetout “speaks vegan” and “speaks organic.” And the fridge unit near the soups offers takeout sandwiches and desserts also made by Mangetout, most of them vegan. So consider Fiddleheads a suitable place to indulge in a quick vegan lunch.
BUT, and here comes the big BUT, if you are a vegan or vegetarian, you might consider patronizing instead Willimantic Food Coop. Fiddleheads actively promotes the consumption of dead animals. There are as many dead animals in Fiddleheads freezers and fridges as in any butcher shop, and their bodies in the fridges are interspersed with the vegetarian mock meats (meats which make a mockery of vegetarianism) and hummus and tempeh. Its poor separation of the wheat from the calves could easily be remedied, and such change welcomed by its vegetarian community.
Either in addition to or instead of Fiddleheads, Willimantic Food Coop is worth your patronage because until late 2010 its foods were all vegetarian. I now patronize Fiddleheads far more than Willi because Fiddleheads is closer to me, but until recently I still found Willi worth my 26 mile and 35 minute trip. If Willi could remain vegetarian for 30 years, Fiddleheads could have too, but Fiddleheads never even tried. Among the farmers who sell directly to Fiddleheads, many also sell dead animals. If there's one farmer at a farmers' market and he sells live produce and also dead animals, I will buy his produce. But if there's two farmers selling live produce, one who sells also dead animals and one who sells only produce, when given the choice I will patronize solely the one who sells only produce. Thank goodness when we on behalf of better unborn farm animals are given the choice. So given the choice between shopping at Fiddleheads Food Coop and Willimantic Food Coop, my preference is clear, though due to prohibitive car mileage, I shop at both.