More and more of us are aware of the benefits of ‘eating local,’ and as a result farmers markets and backyard gardens have surged in popularity. Here at EarthShare, we talk a lot about our favorite farmers markets and spend a lot more time eating and enjoying the bounty – but sometimes we miss out because many markets are open only on a limited basis.
If this happens to you, too, there’s another shopping option for buying locally and supporting sustainable agriculture, particularly if you just can’t give up the convenience of the grocery store: food co-ops! Food cooperatives have been providing communities with fresh, high-quality and locally produced foods for decades while building lasting relationships with area growers and suppliers. Co-ops have had the right idea all along – eating local is the way to go!
This month we asked you: What percent of all farmers’ products in the U.S. are marketed through producer-owned cooperatives?
A. less than 5% B. 10% C. 20% D. 30%
The correct answer is D. 30%! Congratulations to our Green Quiz winners!
Thanks to a supportive network of communities and customers, food co-ops are on the rise nationwide.
Co-ops are collectively owned grocery stores focused on making fresh, natural foods more affordable and convenient for members. There are many different styles of food co-ops, but all of them are committed to quality, social responsibility, consumer education, and supporting their local communities by selling locally grown produce. Find out what it’s like to shop at a food cooperative from the folks at Park Slope Food Co-op in their online video tour.
Co-ops can be found in small towns and cities alike, and chances are there’s one near you. Check out LocalHarvest’s Food Co-op listing and the Cooperative Grocer Co-op Directory for a record of food cooperatives in your area.
Or if you’re thinking of taking it a step further, check out the Food Co-op Initiative for online resources, tips, and support for forming your own community co-op or buying club. For more great advice, download the Cooperative Grocers' Information Network’s How to Start a Co-op Manual.
Just for fun, here are more tasty facts about co-ops!
Do you belong to a food co-op already? Tell us what you like best about your shopping experience!