Co-ops for food sometimes have a reputation for higher pricing. But in fact, the price, especially of local produce, can be reasonable given the quality, because (1) a co-op is not trying to make a profit off its members, (2) the food may not have traveled across the world, and (3) the food may be sold in bulk. So bring along your reusable bags.

Want to go zero-waste? Grab these reusable bags for produce and bulk supplies!

Whole Foods is not a Co-op

Not every store selling supposedly healthy food is a co-op – a non-profit organized to service members. Whole Foods for example, which started many years ago with the intuition that more healthy products and produce could be sold to wealthier consumers for higher margins, is now owned by Amazon.com. It is a for-profit division of a giant corporation.

There are lots of opinions on whether Whole Foods has “gone downhill” since being acquired by Amazon, and whether Amazon cares much about it, even as Amazon emphasizes more food sales. My main beef with Whole Foods is that the one near me seems to intentionally mix organic fare with non-organic, and quality products with ordinary. The labeling is weak.

Many co-ops will take the quality of the product more seriously and will make some effort to source locally.

Any Co-ops Near You?

For food shopping, do you have a community co-op near you? Here’s a map of community co-ops all across the US, from National Co-Op Grocers. National Co-Op Grocers (NCG) represents 148 food co-ops operating over 200 stores in 38 states. The stores have combined annual sales over $2.3 billion and serve over 1.3 million consumer-owners.

Photo by Tara Clark on Unsplash

My favorite Co-op

My favorite place to shop is PCC Community Markets, with many locations near Seattle, WA. The food is more likely to be organic, local, sustainably harvested, and healthy than in any of the other supermarkets in the area. Also, you know what you’re buying: The best version of a product (local, sustainably harvested, organic) and the best version of packaging and containers that some products come in.

Consider Foodprint.org to see what packaging you should avoid wherever you’re shopping. At the co-op, hopefully you’re avoiding it.

There are benefits to giving your beloved pup organic food too! Treat Fido to these nutritious, organic dog treats that are handmade in small batches.