Food cooperatives all around the world aim to provide access to fresh, healthy, and sustainable food while promoting social and environmental responsibility.
Food co-ops, including the Davis Food Co-op, often prioritize sustainable practices in various ways:
Many food co-ops prioritize sourcing products locally to reduce the carbon footprint which means that the food traveled less, which means less gasoline, travel, and probably packaging.
Organic and Sustainable Agriculture:
Food co-ops frequently emphasize organic and sustainable farming practices. They offer organic produce, meat, and dairy products, and they may also feature items with certifications like Fair Trade, Non-GMO, or Certified Humane.
Co-ops often allow members to purchase products in bulk, which can reduce packaging waste and lower the cost of goods. Members can bring their reusable containers to fill up on items like grains, nuts, and spices.
Food co-ops tend to prioritize eco-friendly packaging options, such as reusable bags, biodegradable containers, and reduced plastic usage. Some co-ops may even have programs in place to incentivize customers to bring their own containers.
Education and Advocacy:
Many food co-ops engage in community education and advocacy efforts to promote sustainable food systems. They may offer workshops, seminars, and resources to help members and the public make informed choices about their food.
Recycling and Waste Reduction:
Food co-ops frequently prioritize waste reduction and recycling efforts. They may offer composting services, encourage customers to bring their own reusable containers, and minimize food waste through smart inventory management.
What Sustainability Practices does the Davis Food Co-op have?
One of the founding principles of third wave co-ops in the 60s and 70s (US!) was environmental sustainability, and we have tried hard to keep to those principles.
The DFC’s Five Year Strategic Plan provides overall vision and guidance for making the Davis Food Co-op a “Model for Environmental Sustainability”. The Board and General Manager are working together to make changes in the store that follow the Five-Year Strategic Plan.
Here are just a few ways the Strategic Plan made the Co-op more sustainable:
- The Co-op uses 100% renewable energy from Valley Clean Energy
- The most recent store remodel (2018) saw the installation of energy efficient coolers and other equipment
- Drought tolerant native landscaping around the store and Teaching Kitchen
- Drip irrigation systems prevent water loss and runoff
Greenhouse Gas Emissions:
- 21% of items on our shelves are made by 378 local vendors (within 100 miles of the Co-op)
- Our Buyers favor local products partly because the carbon footprint from these items is smaller
- The Co-op incentivizes staff to bike or walk to work
- Our Buyers increasingly pay attention to product packaging to reduce single use plastic in the store
- The Co-op’s Bulk, Produce, Wellness, and Dairy Departments offer hundreds of items free of plastic packaging
- When supplies are available, we package Deli food in compostable containers
- In 2019 we conducted an internal review of plastic use in the Meat Department and found pre-packaging meat significantly cut down on glove use so we started pre-packing most of our meat ultimately keeping more plastic out of the landfill
- Participate in Plastic Free July providing education for staff and shoppers all month
- Learn about our extensive Food Rescue program here
- We divert as much from the landfill as possible by making 4 waste streams available to shoppers and staff at all times
- Educate staff and shoppers on waste sorting through signage and events
- We work with Recology, Terracycle, and others to offer personal care product recycling and battery recycling to everyone
- Cardboard boxes in good shape get put in the Box Bin for anyone to use for shopping, moving, etc.
Heres a list of just some of the MANY co-ops that prioritize sustainabillity practices within their co-ops and communities:
BriarPatch Food Co-op– Grass Valley & Auburn, CA
Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op– Sacramento, CA
North Coast Co-op, Eureka, CA
Rainbow Grocery Co-op-San Francisco, CA
Ashland Food Co-op-Ashland, OR
Great Basin Food Co-op– Reno, NV
Moscow Food Co-op-Moscow, ID
Monadnock Food Co-op– Keene, NH
New Pioneer Food Co-op– Iowa City, Coralville, & Cedar Rapids, IA
Community Food Co-op– Bellingham, WA
Food co-ops are at the forefront of fostering sustainable and responsible food practices, building strong bonds within their communities, and nurturing a culture of shared responsibility among their members.
Our dedication to ethically sourced and environmentally conscious food distribution positions us as key players in the ongoing endeavor to create a more sustainable and equitable food system for our future.