Cooperatively owned grocery stores exist all over the country. Some have thousands of members and have been around since the 1970s, and some opened within the past few years to serve communities with unusual needs. Watch this video about the advantages of shopping at co-ops, and check this directory for information about food co-ops near you. Each co-op has a story – here are a few!
At Food Conspiracy Co-op in Tucson, Arizona, community members teach courses; local nonprofits and schools apply for donations; and workshops on water harvesting and native trees take place. In 2013, the Co-op installed a rainwater harvesting system behind their kitchen with a grant from the city of Tucson. The plan is to build an urban micro farm.
Viroqua Food Co-op is located in Viroqua, a town of 4400, in a rural area of Southwest Wisconsin called the Driftless. Like many co-ops on this list, before opening as a store in 1995, Viroqua began as a “natural foods buying club,” a group of individuals who worked together to procure healthy foods for their families. According to a 2005 USDA report about successful co-ops in rural areas, it benefited from the guidance of local residents who’d been involved with CROPP, a local organic marketing cooperative which helps farmers transition to organic production.
4th Street Food Co-op in Manhattan, New York takes its member participation seriously; the store is staffed entirely by members. Working memberships, which require you to work 2.25 hours a week, pay off in the form of a 20% discount. Refrigerators, lights, and electronics are powered by New Wind Energy, and they have a committee that vets products in an effort to stop carrying products owned by multi-national corporations.
Kokua Food Co-op is, according to its website, the only natural foods co-op in the state of Hawaii. The Honolulu store serves up raw, vegan, gluten-free baked goods, hosts movie and poetry nights, and has eight flavors of kombucha on tap!
Read more here.