Food News & Issues

Comparing food co-ops to conventional grocery stores

Looking for healthy foods and healthy communities? A study (released August 2012) suggests that, in this country, you should look for a food cooperative! Since we are members of the National Cooperative Grocer's Association, we're not too surprised they've been able to buttress our intuitions with data. It's interesting reading, in summary or in full.

NCGA partnered with the ICA Group – a national not-for-profit research organization – to compile the data used to develop Healthy Foods Healthy Communities: The Social and Economic Impacts of Food Co-ops. The ICA Group compiled data from industry and government resources, food cooperative financial data collected by CoopMetrics for NCGA, and previous NCGA surveys. The ICA Group developed two additional surveys, one targeted to retail food co-ops and the other to the conventional grocery industry.

What will "Fair Trade" become?

Our Co-op has been involved in efforts to make sure producers overseas gain a fair share when their crops are sold here in the United States. When coffee, or bananas, or hand crafts are "just a commodity," the producer often gets just a few pennies of the dollar.

In contrast, "Fair Trade" products have a fairly impressive record of returning more money to farmers and processors overseas. Many wholesalers or other organizations in fair trade have worked with cooperatives and communities to provide community development assistance, for an impact greater than "just" the increased income.

As with other successes and "good ideas," there's some controversey about implementation and standards for the fair trade movement. Our friends and fellow cooperators at Equal Exchange have produced a memorandum (a PDF file, from January 2012) that summarizes their conclusions about what has gone wrong with the organization TransFair USA/FairTrade USA.

Page 1 of 1