Taking Back Our Food: Establishing a Food Co-Op in the Community

Whether you hope to bring a new food co-op to your own community, or if — like many natural foods co-ops — your local co-op is currently struggling to redefine what it is, why it exists, whom it serves and how it stays in business, Willowcrow provides her usual astute analysis and exploration of the issues. Many thanks to Willowcrow for continuing a discussion that’s at the top of so many established co-ops’ radar. If you live somewhere without a food co-op, see if you can find some like minded locals at least interested in starting a bulk buying club for difficult to find organic foods. Empowerment begins with individuals addressing areas that need attention.

The Druid's Garden

Just one of the many delights at a local co-op- organic, heirloom lettuce Just one of the many delights at a local co-op- organic, heirloom lettuce

I remember the first time I visited a food co-op.  It was in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a wonderful, progressive town, and the co-op was incredible.  From products made or grown locally in South-East Michigan (non-GMO and organic tortilla chips, fresh salsa, all kinds of fruits and vegetables, raw chocolates, kale chips, soaps, baked goods and so much more) to regionally available products (like tofu, organic candy bars, raw milk cheeses, and even miso). It was an exciting place to be. All of the food I could have wanted to buy in one place, and that food was better, healthier, and fresher.  That food also paid a living wage to its creators.  The prices were fair, the atmosphere pleasant, the workers in the store friendly and helpful–and most important–happy to be at work.  I made it a…

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3 responses to this post.

  1. We have a very viable and largish food cooperative – begun as a tiny thing in the early 70’s – in our home town that only deals in organics much of it locally grown – expensive relative to the chains but worth it. However, in the Fall a Whole Foods is opening its doors, and many of us are concerned that it will take a lot of business away from the co-op even though much of what Whole Foods sells is not organic. If Whole Foods manages to lure away the local growers then that will probably be the end of our co-op.

    Liked by 1 person


    • David worked briefly at Whole Foods, and their research showed that if local co-ops or natural food stores can survive the initial startup hoopla and ding on sales that usually within the year, all stores in the area selling organic foods see increased sales. Supposedly, WF raises so much awareness that demand simply increases rather than going elsewhere. I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s what they tell employees on the inside during training.



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