by Lisa White
The only way to know with 100 percent certainty what is in our food is to grow it (and test it) ourselves. In fact, The National Gardening Association reported that in 2009, 43 million Americans had a food garden. But growing tomatoes, peppers and basil is not going to fill our bellies, and most people want much more food than they are interested in or able to produce on their own.
A key element to independence is the right to vote. “Vote with your fork” is a phrase that has been in our lexicon for years now. One could just as easily “vote” with a spoon, clothing, toy, car or anything we purchase. Because each time something is purchased, that is a “vote” for it, and for whatever system produced that product. Increasingly, people are voting with their dollars to support the communities in which they live, embracing the “love your local” concept.
Food co-ops are generally a great choice for an easy and convenient way to cast our votes regularly for supporting our inalienable right to know what we are eating while directly contributing to the local economy. It is our right to know what is in our food basket and where and how it is produced. That includes knowing whether food is sprayed with pesticides or fertilized with artificial chemicals; raised in “factory farms” with little concern for animal quality of life or given low-dose antibiotic feed; fed genetically engineered corn or soy that was sprayed with Roundup or other pesticides; or sold in cans or bottles that contain BPA, linked in studies to many health problems.
As a local community-owned grocery market, the Doylestown Food Co-op invites everyone to shop while holding fast to a number of important values. These values are reflected in the product policy that considers the “Doylestown Dozen”: fresh, locally produced, organic, no genetic engineering, non-irradiated, whole ingredients, minimally packaged, small scale production, fair trade, artisanal, member driven and co-operative principles.
Those co-operative principles include, among other things, voluntary and open membership; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; and concern for communities. That boils down to good news for shoppers since the decisions about what to stock in the store are made based on those principles. Sourced from many small distributors and directly from local farms and producers, they make independent decisions daily that impact inventory and the economics of the community.
To learn more about the convenience of doing “voting” in a single grocery store, visit CoopDirectory.org to find a co-op near you.