It takes vision, hard work, and equity to create a community owned store. Many food co-ops were formed in the 1930s and the 1970s. Recently we have seen another upsurge in communities all around the country that want to have more control over their food choices and are willing to work together to meet their common needs.
More food cooperatives will mean stronger communities, more sustainable local agriculture and a renewed spirit of people working together for their mutual benefit.
Ownership does matter. Co-ops recycle a high percentage of their income in the local community. Local farmers and food producers will benefit from the fair trade practices of co-ops. With democratic, cooperative ownership, we enrich our communities rather than lining the pockets of out of state investors. Cooperatives are based in values including self-help, self-responsibility, honesty and democracy. We can always use more of that in the world!
Food co-ops and their leaders have a choice. We can whine about corporate takeover of our food system or we can get busy and help new co-ops form! We can expand our vision of what the world could be like if more businesses were run as if people mattered as much as money, as if the planet mattered as much as efficiency, as if quality mattered as much as price. Leaders need to help their members and other stakeholders know why it is important for more co-ops to get started. Do food co-ops just want to sell more food (just like everybody else) or do we want to create a cooperative economy where commerce, justice, environmental rejuvenation and community are all synonymous?