It’s no secret I’m obsessed with food cooperatives. Whenever we travel, if there’s a co-op in town I have to check it out. Last week we were in Grand Marais, MN, and to my delight we found Cook County Whole Foods Co-op.
I have a theory regarding food co-ops. In the same way you can judge the economic status of a community by its number of Walmarts (how Walmart decreases local economy), you can also judge the ethos of a community by its support of food co-ops (how co-ops increase social benefits). It says a lot about the 1350 caring hearts of Grand Marais when one of its only three grocery stores is a food co-op.
What makes cooperatives so special?
There’s a lot more to food co-ops than the collective aromas of freshly baked bread, healthy produce, bulk grains, and handmade soap. If we look deeper, the cooperative stance is one of democratic principles. It’s working together as a community. It’s operating for the best interests of all, not just a select few. It’s the support of local jobs and producers.
There’s also a lot more to cooperatives than grocery stores. Credit unions, mutual insurance, producer co-ops, cooperative housing, employee-owned businesses—they’re all cooperatives operating under the same model of “we not me.”