The Grocery Cart: a Powerful Vehicle for Social Change

Unfair economic structures and corporate domination of our food supply remain the norm—even in the natural products industry. Our co-op creates an alternative. We like to say that we are not just about great food—-we are about “just” great food. Our decisions are guided by a sense of fairness and equity: by a desire to provide our member-owners with fresh, locally produced foods grown in a manner that respects the earth and avoids the use & risk associated with toxic chemicals & GMOs: our staff with good jobs: and our producers with fair prices.

Bike basket full of foodPeople are increasingly recognizing that food choices are inherently statements of political and moral expression—that food – it’s production, distribution, marketing and consumption is a core social issue—and that a grocery cart is one of the most powerful vehicles for social change.

We believe our work has enriched our community and we want to be in a position to keep our assets working hard for all of us. In the coming year we will be engaging member owners in conversations about growth. We don’t know yet what form this growth will take beyond the obvious–growing in our current locations—but we want to start talking about it.

We believe growth is good, it means we can amplify our good work. Growth means:

  • We can reach more people, giving them access to our cooperative model and to great food.
  • We are helping ensure a vibrant, robust and sustainable local food economy. Last year we worked with 202 local vendors and nearly 44% of what we bought was purchased from MN owned companies or local growers. As we grow, we can buy more from local producers.
  • We can employee more people; and co-op jobs are good jobs with good benefits.
  • And it means can give back more to our community. Last year we gave over $51,000 to area non-profits: raised over $23,000 for MN Food banks and spent over $20,000 on sponsorships of events. We help make St. Paul a better place to live.

Co-ops around the country are impacting their communities in equally positive ways.  Nationally, we work with 128 food co-ops operating 165 stores in 35 states with combined annual sales over $1.4 billion and with over 1.3 million consumer-owners. We work together to leverage our resources and our voice and ultimately offer more value to our member-owners and to improve our communities. When a co-op is successful, thousands of people share in that success!

(Gail Graham’s general manager report, December 2012-January 2013)

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