Meet Bernie, our Produce Manager!

Bernie-Kurten-loWhat do you do at the Co-op?
I am South Store Produce Manager!

What brought you to the Co-op?
My desire to work with high-quality organic and sustainable food, and to surround myself with individuals who share that passion.

What do you like best about your job?
The freedom and creativity that are central to my position. Tips and critique are welcomed from managers and seasoned staff, but no one is looming over your shoulder or breathing down your neck all day which allows for a very casual atmosphere that makes the job truly satisfying.

How has working at the Co-op affected your life?
It has allowed me to network with a lot of like-minded individuals and also exposed me to new ideas about food and life in general that are very stimulating and create a real excitement about the future.

What are some of your favorite products at the Co-op?
I really have not found anything at the Co-op that I do not like. Our produce is obviously amazing and the hot food is a definite favorite. The wellness department and grocery are really on top of it and bring in some awesome products that I love to keep stocked at my house. Our beer and wine selection has gotten a lot of my attention as well. Two words… Old Rasputin.

What do you like to do outside of work?
I am a lover of the great outdoors, so anything that can be done in nature I enjoy. Running, biking, hiking, mushroom hunting, disc golfing, fishing, bird watching…you name
it! When the weather keeps me inside I enjoy taking care of my fish tanks, listening to music and playing guitar (acoustic), and surfing the internet or watching a movie.

Where did you grow up/where have you lived in your life?
I was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and spent most of my childhood in the surrounding area. I was nine years old when my family immigrated to the good ‘ole US of A. We moved to Philip, South Dakota and spent about three years there. We moved around South Dakota quite a bit until I moved to Sioux Falls to begin studying for my degree in Horticulture. I’ve been back to South Africa a few times in between all of this but after finishing my degree I set my sights on the West Coast and chose Corvallis as the perfect place to spread some roots. I’ve been living here since May of this year.

Tell us something about yourself others might not know:
I tend to always overdo things and can get very loud and excited about anything I care about. For some people this might be too much to handle or be seen as obsessive, but
know that it stems from a deep desire to do the best that I can and me truly caring about my convictions and passions.

If you had three wishes….
I would almost always be surrounded by friends and family.
I would never have to again be concerned with money.
Mankind would stop destroying itself.

Where are some of your favorite travel destinations?
I have to say South Africa as it is my home country and one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, but anywhere with a coastline grabs my attention right away. I grew up very close to the ocean and have always held a deep-seated love for it. I would love to travel to South America though, back-pack through Europe, and hopefully visit Australia and New Zealand someday.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Owning my own land and on a path to true self-sufficiency.

What music is playing in your car, home, or head?
In my car I tend to listen to the radio a lot as I enjoy the change-up from scrolling through GB’s of my personal collection, but I really enjoy a lot of alternative and new-age music. The Lumineers and Mumford and Sons became quick favorites as well and I have always appreciated soft-rock artists like Jack Johnson. The Blues have been a genre I could always identify with, but Jazz, Rock, and Folk are all at the top of my list. I do not listen to much rap music and seem to have a real issue with Country music…but my foundation has always centered on Classic Rock.

What are your top 5 favorite things about Corvallis?
1. The abundance of water in such a small area with the ocean a mere forty-five minutes away!
2. The unbelievable amount of options for fresh food, healthy living services, and Micro-Brews.
3. It is basically green all of the time!
4. The endless options for an outdoor enthusiast either right outside of town or no more than an hour away.
5. The open-minded and sustainably centered community.

What is one thing you would change at the Co-op?
I agree so much with the philosophy of the Co-op and our model for carrying out business. The only thing I would change is to increase our size so we can service more customers and continue to make the town of Corvallis a happy and healthy place in which to live.

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