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Style Magazine

Ask the Expert: What is a Food Co-op and How Does It Work?

Q: What is a food co-op and how does it work?
A: A food co-op (cooperative) is a grocery store owned by members of the community. Unlike corporate chains, food co-ops are totally independent and owned by the community members who shop there. Instead of focusing on investors, food co-ops focus on their community—nourishing everyone according to their specific needs and lifestyle. They’re also the perfect place to find high-quality local food, since co-ops know their local farmers and family business owners by name. What’s more, they’re passionate about giving back to their communities. In fact, it’s the seventh principle that governs co-ops: concern for the community. They believe that good food is just the beginning of what people can achieve by working together. Member-owners pay a membership fee (prices vary based on the co-op), which gives owners various discounts, access to special orders, and voting rights to help guide the direction of the co-op. Members can also receive dividends as owners of the co-op, which occurs when co-ops are profitable over a period of time.