What is a Co-op?


According to the Food Cooperative Initiative - Guide to Starting a Food Co-op, a cooperative is a business voluntarily owned and controlled by the people who use it - its owners. It is operated primarily for the benefit of its owners to meet their mutual needs.

A food co-op is different from a regular grocery store in its reinvestment of profit back into the community and mission to promote the health and viability of the local economy.

The average food co-op:

  • Sources 80% of their stock from local farms and purveyors, thus creating a reliable source of revenue for farmers
  • Offers more organic produce than a traditional grocery store
  • Understands how local farmers grow/raise their food, thus is able to provide opportunities for nutrition education. Did you know that local/seasonal produce contains more nutrients?
  • Is focused on giving back to employees, the environment, and the community because they usually:
    • Pay above average wage
    • Promote sustainability measures for a greener planet – like recycling, composting, and reduced waste
    • Donate 13% of profits to charity
    • Add $1.63 to the local economy for every $1 spent in the food co-op 

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