Food Co-op Revolution Underway in Maine
Great article about the new generation of food co-ops around Maine! Five New Food Co-ops from Fort Kent to Portland! Great interviews, photos, charts, graphs, & statistics!
March 10, 2014 [ MaineBIZ]
The number of member-owned food co-operatives in Maine is on a course to almost double to 11 this year, leavened by a taste for locally produced food that is safe and healthy.
While these new storefronts still plan to be community venues, they aren’t our parents’ co-ops. Many aim to offer one-stop shopping, carrying a wider variety of goods in addition to the traditional bulk items and “granola-type” fare. And backed by development loans and legions of member owners, they have become a force in the local economy.
“There’s a local economic multiplier,” says Kate Harris, education and publicity coordinator at Belfast Co-op, which started in 1976. “Our bank and payroll are based in the community. A much higher percentage of money stays in the community. We spend as much as we can locally. And the largest contribution is that we won’t leave the state.”
Nationally, every $1,000 a shopper spends at a local food co-op generates $1,604 in their local economy, $239 more than if they shopped at a conventional grocery, according to strongertogether.coop, a consumer website run by the National Cooperative Growers Association. Other metrics: 157 local farmers and producers on average work with a food co-op versus 65 with a conventional store; 20% of products are locally sourced versus 6% for a standard store; and 38% of revenue is spent locally versus 20% for a regular store (see chart, next page).