This Saturday (July 6th), co-ops around the world will come together to celebrate the International Day of Cooperatives. Well, they won’t actually come together in some big block party style extravaganza (that would be pretty neat, though). But in the spirit of principle #6 (cooperation among cooperatives), we all individually take the day to celebrate the breadth and the resiliency of the cooperative spirit. The cooperation doesn’t stop at the exterior of the Littleton Food Co-op; step inside and you will find a number of other cooperatives on the shelves as well. In honor of International Day of Cooperatives, here are just some of the other cooperatives you can find within your local food co-op:
You might not realize it, as the brand has dropped the “cooperative” from their brand name, but Cabot is actually owned by over 800 member dairy farmers. Cabot celebrates a big milestone this year, as 100 years have passed since the original group of 94 farms came together to form their cooperative. As the organization has grown and evolved, they remain steadfast in their commitment to the cooperative principles, sustainability, and “hard work and a tireless dedication to quality make our products stand apart.”
As the name implies, at the core of Equal Exchange is their belief that “we should expect no less from ourselves and each other than we demand of our farmer partners.” They thought the best way to do this was through forming a worker-owned cooperative. As labels like “fair trade” and “organic” are popping up left and right, Equal Exchange stays true to its values in creating high quality coffees, teas, and chocolates, while empowering farmers and consumers.
Bob, the owner and namesake behind Bob’s Red Mill, has an “honest-to-goodness” approach that shapes every whole grain flour product that comes out of his mill. His passion for a healthy lifestyle, quality, and generosity flow through the organization like grain through their old-fashioned stone mills. It is perhaps this last quality that prompted Bob to hand over his company to his employees in 2010, stating “I don’t think there’s anybody worthy to run this company but the people who built it.” Even though this co-op is relatively new, it’s clear that the cooperative values run deep through its 200+ owners.
4. Ocean Spray
Unlike Bob’s Red Mill, Ocean Spray has been a farmer cooperative since its very inception back in 1930. Ocean Spray produces its cranberry products through the voluntary cooperation of over 700 farm families. Ocean Spray’s motto, “Act Tiny. Be Mighty.” demonstrates its commitment to each farmer-owner, and its long history of success in the face of adversity shows the power of democratic member control.
5. Land O’Lakes
Land O’Lakes has always been committed to innovation and community– and it credits that to its cooperative roots. A united front among 1,700 farmer-owners is what has allowed the co-op to remain a leader in better butter production. If you were unaware of their cooperative structure, it makes more sense when you discover that Land O’Lakes was founded back in 1921 on the idea that “we’re better when we work together.” As their product line has evolved over the past century to become more consumer focused, it’s no surprise that they take just as much care with their business structure.
Blue Diamond Almonds is a cooperative 3,000 growers strong. Their diverse product line is made possible from the commitment of generations of farmers. The singular commitment of Blue Diamond Almonds is to “bring the benefits of almonds to the world.” Rather than take chances on this mission, this co-op insists on making conscientious decisions to better life for their grower-owners and consumers. Their care and quality has catapulted them to the forefront of their craft.
Products from all of these cooperatives are available at the Littleton Food Co-op, your community-owned market dedicated to support cooperatives everyday.