There’s something about a food co-op that’s so much more pleasant than a supermarket. The woody fragrance, the community board tacked with overlapping posters, the shelves stocked with products from a business down the road… It feels more like a cozy pantry than a commercial enterprise. But other than the atmosphere, what is it that makes these places so special? Here are 5 reasons why you should pay a visit to your local food co-op today.
- Community benefits. Co-ops run on a series of cooperative principles:
Since members of the co-op are the ones making the decisions about food purchase and distribution, every person involved has a certain investment in the store itself and in its surroundings. This ultimately leads to greater social responsibility. Plus, co-ops often carry plenty of local products, so profits go right back into the community.
2. Environmental initiatives. We’ve seen plenty so far on our trip around the country! Maple City Market in Goshen, IN has a punch-card program that encourages customers to ride their bikes to the store. 10 trips and you’re rewarded with a free cookie! Talk about incentive.
3. Support for local charities. Menomonie Market Food Co-op has a “Hill O’ Beans” program that benefits local charities along with promoting zero waste initiatives:
And Good Harvest Market in Pewaukee, WI has a similar program, urging customers to bring their own shopping bags. It’s had serious benefits:
4. Healthy, organic food. When you’re shopping at a co-op, you can count on things like local meats, organic produce, and vegan options. You might even be inspired to try something new, like fizzy kombucha on tap as a healthy alternative to soda!
5. Neighborly spirit. One of our favorite moments was when a customer stopped by the Tree-Free booth just to hand each of us a chocolate bar. “It’s the little things that matter the most,” he said. We agree – when everyone does a lot of little things, they add up to big things!
What do you love about your local co-op? Tell us in the comments!