GETTING STARTED WITH ORGANIC AND NATURAL FOODS
by Susan Coad
Have you ever thought that you would like to eat better, but its too much trouble to secure the fresh, organic, whole-grain foods? Does it seem to you that you have to drive all over the Chicago area to get the best foods for your family? Well, you donít have to settle for the offerings of the local supermarket. You can start a food co-op with as little as four families or an $800 order. Growth in membership is sure to come as others find out about the fine foods and wholesale prices.
We started Lake Forest Co-op in September 1987 with 10 potential members, and we have gradually grown to 20 families a little over a year later. We found help in getting our co-op started through Blooming Prairie Cooperative Warehouse in Iowa City, from which we order. The Blooming Prairie people have a manual on how to start a food co-op, and they publish a catalog that includes bulk items such as grains, flours, dried fruits, juices, cheeses, healthier packaged goods, and frozen naturally-raised meats. We are delighted to avoid the added hormones and the antibiotics as well as the high amounts of saturated fats found in supermarket meats.
Some of the great products that are hard to find locally are organic whole wheat flour, organic brown rice, organic oatmeal, and organic apple juice. The organic produce we can get from Blooming Prairie includes apples, avocados, grapefruit, lemons, limes, carrots, onions, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. We can now get organic cheeses. We sometimes get carried away and order many of the "health snacks for our kids" including juices and chips. Everything we get is warehouse fresh, which has been very satisfactory.
Our co-op meets once every four weeks to pool our orders and again two weeks later to meet the delivery truck. Each member has an assigned responsibility, such as compiling the orders, bookkeeping, unloading the truck, and dividing up the bulk goods. Is it work? Yes, but itís fun. In addition to the healthier food, benefits include gaining organizational and business skills and sharing recipes and practical hints with others who are interested in getting the best food for their families. Itís a support group for good nutrition.
A good way to start if you are not familiar with food co-ops is to join a co-op in a neighboring locality, even if only for a short time. You will learn how that co-op is organized, and you may like it enough to stay or you may learn how to improve it in your locale. To help you find a co-op near you, Truman College maintains a listing of co-ops in the Chicago area; phone 773-878-1700.
Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XIV, No. 2, Spring 1989, page 4.