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Co-ops Make a Difference Every Day

Food co-ops bring people together to share good food and create healthy communities. In recognition of the many ways that co-ops build a better world and help make a difference in their communities, the United Nations declared 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives.

All co-ops are part of an international movement that has strong impacts globally. Members of the world’s communities and cooperatives play an important role in this. When you support your local co-op with your shopping dollars, you are taking part in a business system that cares about people and contributes to a livable community. Our food co-ops contribute to many local economies in the U.S. with $2 billion dollars in annual sales and over 1.3 million members. That’s just one of many benefits food co-ops bring to the table.

Food co-ops have spent the last decades being at the forefront of virtually every positive reform in the food industry. From product labeling laws and reduced packaging to organic food production, we have set the standard for food safety and quality.

Northfield FarmWe strive to connect our farmers and shoppers so you know where your food comes from. Did you know that nearly 30 percent of all farmers’ products in the U.S. are marketed through producer-owned cooperatives? And of course, you can find many of these popular co-op food brands, such as Organic Valley Family of Farms, Frontier Natural Products, Equal Exchange, Florida’s Natural and Cabot Creamery, in retail food co-ops.

Food co-ops continue to extend their influence beyond the doors of the store to make it possible for everyone to participate in the local food movement by also promoting community supported agriculture, community gardens and farm-to-school initiatives.

In co-op classrooms nationwide, we love to share what we know about enhancing wellness and enjoying delicious food. We’re not just handing out information, but giving everyone a way to think about and explore a different relationship to food, one that reflects the values and agriculture of a certain place.

Our co-ops are also a critical part of neighborhoods because we are building and sustaining local communities. The co-op is owned by thousands of people who care about where they live. Vermont’s governor, Peter Shumlin, is a member of the Putney Food Co-op in Putney, Vermont. He says, “The great thing about the co-op is that you see people from all walks of life coming together. It’s really a community center. It’s a community resource.” That’s why we put so much into what we do to make the world better. It all comes together at the co-op.