The Benefits of a Community Owned Food Co-op

Posted by on Feb 14, 2013

By Matthew Darcy, member-owner

Wholesome food. Value. A future that is sustainable. A Food Co-op can help provide all of these things to a community. It can also help boost local economies and create bonds between community and farmer: between you and your food.

Fresh Produce

A Food Co-op is a member-owned distribution outlet for foodstuffs. Decisions regarding all aspects of the business are made by the members or the members’ democratically elected representatives in the form of a Board. The Co-op is shaped by the community and will reflect the values of those involved. More simply, a Food Co-op is a grocery store owned by members of the community: you and your neighbors.

Economic ImpactAccording to a study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Food Co-ops accounted for approximately 15,000 jobs and $250 million in wages and benefits.# A study done by the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) found that $1,000 spent at a Food Co-op generates $1,600 in local economic activity.#

Environmental Impact

Because a Co-op is owned and managed by members of the community it serves, it can be very pro-active about its environmental impact. A study in California showed that Co-ops recycled at a greater rate than conventional retail grocery outlets2. Co-ops also take a leading role in energy conservation, besting retail grocery outlets’ average Energy Star rating by a wide margin2.

Locally Sourced Foods

Since Co-ops are democratically controlled, Member-Owners are able to determine where the food they offer comes from based on Co-op values—not corporate shareholder expectations. Co-ops purchase local foods at a much higher rate than conventional retail groceries—over 40% more2 This also reduces the amount of energy needed to get the food to your home—the closer the source of the food, the less fuel needed to get it to your kitchen.# In fact, about 17% of all the energy used in the US is for our food supply.# Through Co-ops, we can reduce that percentage and the total energy use in the US as a result.

Co-ops have a history of making communities healthier and happier. They promote engagement between community members and help drive local economies. They can enrich our lives and help provide a better world now and in the future. Consider becoming a Member-Owner of the Montavilla Food Co-op today.

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