Join a Food Co-op
A strong desire for local foods has led Duluth and surrounding communities to embrace regional food system investments. Buying from independent, locally owned food systems, rather than a nationally owned business, significantly reduces food miles and positively impacts the local community.
Joining a food co-op is a simple, yet effective, way to make a conscious effort in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A food cooperative, or co-op, is essentially a grocery store that’s owned by the people who shop there. Members get to decide what foods and products are stocked on the shelves, where those items are purchased, and what quality standards both products and vendors have to meet. Members also vote on standards for negotiating prices and choose how co-op employees are compensated.
Typically, co-ops aim to offer high-quality foods at fair prices—for shoppers and producers. Doing business this way helps keep money in communities by supporting local growers, mom-and-pop vendors, the best craft brewers, etc. You’ll find products from vendors who champion sustainable farming and fishing practices. And, of course, all this local commerce helps create jobs, too. You don’t have to be a member to shop at your local grocery co-op, though members do typically enjoy additional benefits.
BENEFITS OF SHOPPING AT A FOOD CO-OP:
- Supporting local, small-scale agriculture. A great way to support your local economy is to put your money directly back into it. When you buy locally grown or produced items at your co-op, you’re supporting your area’s farmers and agricultural businesses.
- Decrease typical packaging waste and energy consumption. You avoid the processing, packaging, heating, and refrigeration that transporting food long distances entails, all of which consume energy and contribute to air pollution.
- Access to in season, healthy produce. Though every co-op’s selection is different, they typically have ample produce sections that focus on seasonal, high-quality ingredients. Co-op buyers work with suppliers that can consistently deliver fresh items.
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