Food Co-Ops: Separating Facts From Fiction

wealthymattersFood co-ops provide various benefits to the community. It creates a place for people to obtain fresh and healthy produce and products created by local businesses. Food co-ops give individuals and family a better alternative to big corporations, and allow you to support independent small businesses in your community. Despite all these benefits, food co-ops, unfortunately, have a cloud of misconceptions surrounding them. These inaccuracies can turn away potential co-op shoppers. Knowing the difference between the facts and myths of food co-ops will help you make an informed decision on your family’s shopping choices.

Myth #1: You must be a member in order to shop at food co-ops.
Fact: You don’t have to be a member in order to visit or shop at a food co-op. In fact, you can shop at the co-op as you would any other store. Once you see for yourself the benefits, you may be interested in finding out more about their membership.

Myth #2: Only hippies, vegetarians and the like shop at food co-ops.
Fact: Everyone, no matter what their political standing, social status or food preference, is welcome at food co-ops.

Myth #3: Joining a food co-op requires members working and/or volunteering in some way.
Fact: Every food co-op is different and there are some that encourage their members to help out in some way or another. However, most co-ops don’t require your participation and all you really have to do is enjoy shopping there.

Myth #4: You have to pay an annual membership fee.
Fact: It is true that most co-ops require a small investment that is typically in the form of shares. These shares can usually be purchased all at once or spread out over a period of time, even though the member benefits typically start the moment you become a member whether or not you have bought the required amount of shares. These shares make you –along with the other members — co-owners of the food co-op.

Myth #5: Since you can shop without becoming a member, there is no benefit to becoming a part of the co-op.
Fact: Members of food co-ops receive many benefits that non-members don’t. For example, members are able to vote on co-op issues. This allows you to have a say in how the co-op works. Furthermore, if the food co-op is turning a profit, members may receive a patronage refund. The actual benefits for members vary from one co-op to the next, and you can find out more information by visiting your local food co-op.

About Keerthika Singaravel

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