|From the GM: "In Co-Operation"|
By Sabine Rhyne
Every year, we celebrate Co-op month in October. We put up little Go Co-op shelf talkers provided by the Neighboring Food Co-op Association to invite you to check out the products in our store that are made either by producer co-ops throughout the world or worker-owned coops both near and far. It may seem like a small thing, and, after all, many other things compete for your
attention in October (also non-GMO month, Fair Trade month, Harvest this, that, and the other), but let us remind you about the power of choice. Starting at the basic level, you choose to spend your grocery dollars in our cooperative store, and by doing so, you support more organic products and produce, more local producers, higher average wages, less waste, and more healthful educational activities in the local schools and community groups. Our national organization, the National Co-op Grocers (NCG), have been commissioning a study every couple of years to measure that community impact with data.
Further, the NCG study says that “economists have developed what they call the "multiplier effect" as a way to measure the economic impact of a company on the local economy that takes into account the way money recirculates. For example, if a cooperative purchases pickles from a local producer, that producer in turn uses some of this money to buy supplies from local sources, as well as to hire staff to make pickles, technicians to repair equipment, designers to set up a website, and accountants to balance their books. Similarly, store employees spend a share of their wages on various goods and services in the local market, such as food, housing and entertainment.” So the effect looks like this :
This is from data aggregated from over 3,000 stores through a Progressive Grocer magazine survey and from a survey of over 100 co-ops in the U.S.
And then, there are the benefits of our local Co-op consumers purchasing products from cooperative growers and producers. It’s the ultimate fair-trade, where more of your dollar actually gets to the producers and their communities. Our friends at Equal Exchange, a worker-owned co-op, source nuts, cocoa, coffees, tropical fruits, and so much more from cooperative farmer organizations. Nearby co-ops like Real Pickles and regional Organic Valley dairy farmers value their Co-op customers. And this year, we, along with many other co-ops across the country, are offering a cooperative wine from Argentina. La Riojana Cooperative is the largest cooperative of wine grape growers, with 500 members and annual production of around four million cases. They are the world’s largest producer of organic, fair-trade wine, and our Co-op customers will now have an opportunity to purchase this high quality wine for a very good value price! The added volume that our Co-op will give this organization will enable more growers to receive “fair-trade premiums” that allow for community projects such as solar pumps and panels, in addition to schools and access to drinking water.
The power of cooperation is great, and we sometimes forget what those small decisions in the aisles truly mean up the supply chain. This month allows us to remind you of this, and also to thank you for participating in our own cooperative economy.
Truly in cooperation... Sabine Rhyne, General Manager