Meet the Managers: Produce Manager, Ryan

Meet the Managers of Valley Natural Foods

October is National Cooperative Month and we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate all month long.

We wouldn’t be what we are today without our shoppers and member-owners, we wouldn’t be who we are without the leadership of our managers!

This month, we’ll be introducing all of our store managers and give you a glimpse into who they are, why they love being a part of VNF, and what they love outside of the co-op.

Please meet Ryan– our Producer Manager!


How long have you been at Valley Natural Foods? I have been the Produce Manager at VNF since early November 2019.

Why do you love being a part of a co-op? I’ve been a member at several coops over the years (REI, Wedge, housing coop) and I have always appreciated the “coming together aspect” that coops offer. I am especially fond of food coops as people’s relationship to food reflects so much culturally about who they are, and the coops do a good job of supporting and cultivating diversity around food. Natural food coops have also always been at the cutting edge of keeping food safe and affordable, which is a value that I align with.

What’s your favorite product from the Produce Department? I honestly wouldn’t be able to offer such a conceit toward any specific product. Blueberries in summer are so important to me for their benefits and utility. But then the myriad of local squash, apples, and hard greens in the fall fill my attention. Citrus, and its enormous diversity, give me so much pleasure with their bright colors and much needed Vitamin C during the bleaker winter months. And then asparagus, watercress, and ramps harken the beginning of a new produce year to my mind with all their strong but delicate aspects. Even focusing on these items is arbitrary. So, I think if there is one thing that I most appreciate about my department it is how it is a physical manifestation of the impermanence that is this life.

What’s your favorite way to spend a day off? Days off are not something I completely relate to. I have several projects that I choose to build my life around: music, climbing, meditation, and my sources of income(work). So on most any given day when I’m not at the co-op I likely start off with my Buddhist mediation practice. Then I might get to spend an hour bouldering. A good part of the day after that I might spend taking care of responsibilities for the apartment buildings that I am caretaker for in South Minneapolis. Usually, time still allows for at least some moments in front of my Eurorack system or to catch up on some pages from the various books on my desk/Kindle. All in all, I live a very busy life and I try to stay aware of how little time we all have and utilize it as best I can.

What are a couple of things you can’t live without and why? Meditation, music, and coffee!

What was the last TV show you binged or book you read? I do not encourage “bingeing” of television for myself or others as I do not think it is generally a healthy thing for people. Certainly, that has been my personal experience. A book I highly recommend is The Five Invitations by Frank Ostaseski. A very powerful, yet accessible book that explores what it means to live a life with the awareness of the certainty of its end. Ostaseski is a Buddhist practitioner and has worked in hospice for many decades. He brings his experiences around those factors together in this book to illuminate how to live life more fully in spite of, or maybe because of, its tenuous nature. I am also right now in the middle of The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Walden by Henry David Thoreau, and The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir. In a certain sense, those are all re-reads though.

What’s your go-to coffee/tea order? Mostly I make my own tea to tote around with me. If you see the teal-ish Zojirushi then I am drinking my Golden Yunnan. If it is the pink one…500 Mile Chai from Tao of Tea. But if I go to a shop, I will invariably order a 12oz. breve latte.

Any pets? I live with a perk-eared Scottish Fold named Buchla. He’ll be 1 in November.

Anything else you like to share about why you love Valley Natural Foods? I am very grateful to be able to share and apply my expertise in the produce department at VNF. The overall project that is the mission of the coop very much aligns with my values. And I truly enjoy being able to bring knowledge and excitement to our customers around food. I love the relationships that the coop allows me to cultivate…with staff, customers/members, growers. And during these tumultuous times, I have been just so impressed with how all of these actors have shown up to continue to support the coop’s mission of health and wellness. To me, it speaks to the integrity of the coop that draws such dedication. I am grateful to be a part of it!


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