Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Monadnock Food Co-op

by Shane Smith, Outreach Coordinator
Our GM Paula, with MFC GM, Michael Faber
The Monadnock Food Co-op in Keene, New Hampshire will open its doors on April 3, after a four-year-long journey. Part of this journey included early groundwork through an organization called the Food Co-op Initiative. The Food Co-op Initiative is a key source of support for communities just starting out on the road to opening a food co-op. The Food Co-op Initiative works with new groups to get their fundamentals secure and set their vision high, so they’re on firm footing from day one.
New display cases!
The Monadnock Food Co-op applied to the Initiative’s Seed Grant Program where they received $10,000 in seed money.  The Monadnock Co-op was one of 13 food co-op start-ups to apply for the grant on 2011-in 2012 there were 31 applications submitted.
Concord Co-op brings lunch for the staff
After working since 2008 as a volunteer committee of the Monadnock Farm and Community Connection Program, the Monadnock Food Co-op incorporated in April, 2010. Since 2011, close to 1,200 families have joined the Monadnock Food Co-op as Member-Owners, contributing over $100,000 in Member Equity and $800,000 in member loans.

Departments include health and beauty, bulk food, meat, produce, frozen food, dairy, beer and wine as well as a deli with a prepared foods section and a small cafĂ© seating area.  They will strive to carry products that connect their regional farmers and shoppers, so members know where their food comes from.
Fingers crossed for April 3 opening

Friday, March 15, 2013

GMO Update

by Shane Smith, Outreach Coordinator
We have the right to know what is in our food and  NH citizens have sent the message that they want GMO food to be labeled.  The petition, sponsored by State Rep. Maureen Mann and Rep. Ian Raymonds suggest that the majority of Americans want GMO food labeled now.

Illustration by Co-op designer Torin Judd
Since the campaign began in February NH citizens have added over 6,000 signatures to the campaign. Currently the Environment and Agriculture Committee has retained the bill, so it won't go to the Senate until the fall.  Thank you to all who signed the petition at the Co-op where we gathered well over 600 signatures for this bill.  Similar legislation just passed in the Vermont House. Across the country many such bills have been introduced to state legislatures and the issue is clearly picking up steam beyond just the normal "crunchy" channels. Although Prop 37 was narrowly defeated in California last November, the campaign forced Monsanto and the biotech giants to spend $45 million to defeat the measure. That's a record expenditure by the world's largest toxic pesticide companies to try to prevent consumers from knowing what they're buying. Remember: GMOs are the only products that consumers accidentally purchase without knowing what they're buying.
The Concord Food Co-op belongs to a group called the National Cooperative Grocers Association where we partner with  other Co-ops for increased buying power,  resource sharing and a bigger political voice than we could have by ourselves. In response to the GMO isue, NCGA had this response. "Last week, we sent a letter to all Co+op Deals partners reminding them of NCGA's work on the national level to fight the deregulation of GMOs and calling for the mandatory labeling of GMO foods. This letter also reinforced the importance of GMO labeling to our co-ops and their shoppers, and urged vendors to show leadership by supporting consumers' right to information to make informed purchase decisions. NCGA's category managers have been directed to require formal written responses, by April 1, from those industry partners that have been targets of the boycott in response to prop 37. Although we continue to believe that boycotts of companies whose parent organizations contribute to anti-labeling campaigns are ineffective due to the small percentage overall these brands represent of multi-nationals, we are vigorously leveraging our trade relationships to communicate the values of our co-ops and their shoppers. We will share a synopsis of the formal responses from the industry that we receive later next month."

Illustration by Co-op designer Brad Turgeon
Last week, Whole Foods announced all products sold at Whole Foods Market stores containing genetically modified organisms will clearly labeled within five years. This makes the company the first national grocery chain to set a deadline for what it terms “full GMO transparency.” Up to the 2018 deadline, Whole Foods says it will work in collaboration with its suppliers as they transition to sourcing non-GMO ingredients or to clearly labeling products with ingredients containing GMOs.

As a co-op, we are dedicated to meeting the needs of all of our customers. We support the right of consumers to make their own purchase decisions. We also support their right to accurate information to make those decisions. However, it would be impossible for our co-op to test every product available in the market for GMOs. We can't tell you which products do contain GMOs, we can only tell you which products do not (certified organic and non-GMO verified). The GMO labeling requirements is one of the most important consumer health legislation introduced in recent years.  The Concord Food Co-op will continue to advocate for full disclosure and to keep you informed throughout the legislative process.