Have you heard of the local foods movement? Why is this a nationwide phenomenon? There is more demand than ever to know where our food is coming from and more people are deciding to vote with their pocketbooks, and in this case, really putting their money where their mouths are. The Cedar Falls Food Co-op is committed to providing locally sourced products on our shelves once our store is open. Since our store will be a one-stop-shop model (meaning that you can find your grocery needs all in one store), we will also have products from further afield, but we will source locally whenever possible.
Here are several reasons why we support buying local:
Supporting Local Farmers and Producers
Cooperative principal number 7 is Concern for Community. We want to get to know farmers and business owners in our own backyard and also encourage them to provide us with fresh, quality produce, honey, cheeses, beauty products and much more. A food co-op supports an average of 157 local producers compared to 65 at a conventional grocery store.
Keeping Dollars Local
Money spent on local products supports those producers, and money paid to them goes back into the local economy via income they earn and taxes they pay. On average, 38% of revenue generated by co-ops is spent locally compared to 24% at conventional stores. In addition, a co-op is a local business, employing people within the community who receive better pay and benefits than those who work at big-box stores.
Reducing Carbon Footprint
Have you heard of food miles – the transportation of food from production to consumption? Studies have shown that the average distance traveled for a conventionally grown meal a U.S. person eats is 1500 miles! That’s a lot of fuel, not to mention the energy used to keep that food from spoiling before it reaches you – which for produce ranges from 4 to 7 days from the time it’s picked to when it reaches the supermarket shelf. No wonder a conventionally grown tomato often tastes so lifeless compared to one fresh-picked at the farmers market. Co-ops support healthy, sustainable living, and reducing food miles is a great start.
Eating What’s in Season
Local growers are providing produce that is in season, as anyone who has supported a CSA (community supported agriculture) knows. Eating what grows naturally in your environment is a healthy way to enjoy the freshest produce possible. We will compliment CSAs and other local producers by providing additional ways for them to sell their in-season products.
How will we define what we consider local? Co-ops vary in their definitions because of where they are located as well as availability of produce (often the definition is within a certain mileage radius). What we will deem a local product is yet to be determined and will hinge upon conversations with our member-owners as well as recommendations from other co-ops and consultants. Do you have an opinion? Let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.