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Food Co-ops in Focus

In 2012, Kevin Gillespie, celebrity chef from the Woodfire Grill in Atlanta and sixth season Top Chef finalist, traveled around the country exploring farm fields and grocery aisles as part of the celebration of the United Nations International Year of Cooperatives. The 2012 International Year of Cooperatives allowed us to shine the spotlight on the role co-ops and delicious food can play in bringing communities together.

One of the ways we honored the year was by filming Kevin’s discoveries on the road. Kevin traveled from city to city exploring organic farms, community gardens and food co-ops. This 13-episode online video series showcases what he uncovered about the amazing food that co-ops offer and ways co-ops bring farmers, producers and shoppers together.

First stop, Minneapolis. Minneapolis is a mecca for cooperation, where more than a dozen food co-ops are going strong. Kevin learns exactly how deep the heartland’s roots go by visiting these unique urban and rural communities and how they are transforming how people eat and shop for food.

When Kevin goes east to Vermont, he visits with Vermont governor Peter Shulin, who is a food co-op member fighting the good fight for locally grown food. You’ll find Shulin’s dedication to doing the right thing refreshing and impressive.

After Kevin speaks to the meat buyer at Bellingham Community Food Co-op in the Pacific Northwest, he can’t wait to meet the passionate farmers raising heritage breeds of pork and sheep for the co-op. There’s plenty of passion to go around, and Kevin finds no shortage of it when he visits two California co-ops that show him to what lengths co-op members will go to support their local farms.

In Albuquerque, Kevin spends time with chef Jonathan Perno to find out how Los Poblanos Restaurant and Inn partners with La Montañita Food Co-op to deliver great food to patrons. Then he treks out to nearby Los Alamos to visit the brand new Los Alamos Co-op to tell the inspirational story about residents’ efforts to build it.

About the journey, Kevin said, “Everybody has to eat, but you get to choose where you go to get your food. People shop at the co-op because they want to be a part of this community.” Find the videos here.

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