When I first got involved with the Doylestown Food Market as a volunteer a little more than a year ago, I had to go through a process to understand what a cooperative food market is, along with how it is different from a corporate grocery store. Today, as a Team Member, I find that many of our customers are still coming to understand what sets us apart from the supermarket.
Let me share what I have learned about what a Co-op is, and what it provides for the community.
There are countless food producers in our community, and they make all kinds of things, from delectable chocolate treats to freshly grown herbs. A Co-op gives our local food producers a chance to sell their wares to community members and visitors. These exchanges can happen every day at a Co-op, and they allow customers to take home healthy and delicious groceries while our food producers can make a rewarding living and provide for their families.
When you visit a grocery store, do you know where the apples came from? Do you find yourself wondering whether your produce is organic, your snacks are gluten-free or whether your eggs are cage-free? There is no reason for doubt when you shop at our Co-op. Our fruits and vegetables are clearly labeled with signs that give you information on the food producer and their practices. If you have a food sensitivity, our Team Members are always prepared to take your questions and help you find products that fit your needs. In addition, our meat and egg producers are carefully reviewed by our Co-op’s management team to make sure they always deliver high-quality items that are humanely treated. In short, shopping at a Co-op means you never have to wonder what is in your basket or where it came from.
Members of the staff and board behind the Co-op think about food every day, along with the many issues that come up in the process of bringing food from the farm to your dinner table. We think about sustainable farming practices, reducing pesticides in crops, food waste, community hunger and countless other issues that affect all of us. But it does not stop there, we do our part to bring these issues to light and start conversations about them. Our book club meets every month to discuss current literature on the food industry, and we host screenings at the County Theater for important films about food that our community members might not otherwise get a chance to see.
Even if you need a new recipe, an idea for dinner or suggestions for an invigorating snack, check out one of our recipe cards in the store, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
When I think about what a Co-op is, I consider the many things our Food Market has done for me that I could never expect from a grocery store. Thanks to the Co-op, I know I have grown into a smarter and more involved shopper. Meeting the food producers, staff, board members, members and shoppers has helped me not only feel a stronger connection with our town, but also that I can help our community become stronger.
Why don’t you come down to our store and see the difference for yourself?