Grocery Story: The Promise of Food Co-ops in the Age of Grocery Giants

Grocery Story: The Promise of Food Co-ops in the Age of Grocery Giants

by Jon Steinman

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Overview

Hungry for change? Put the power of food co-ops on your plate and grow your local food economy.

Food has become ground-zero in our efforts to increase awareness of how our choices impact the world. Yet while we have begun to transform our communities and dinner plates, the most authoritative strand of the food web has received surprisingly little attention: the grocery store—the epicenter of our food-gathering ritual.

Through penetrating analysis and inspiring stories and examples of American and Canadian food co-ops, Grocery Story makes a compelling case for the transformation of the grocery store aisles as the emerging frontier in the local and good food movements. Author Jon Steinman:

  • Deconstructs the food retail sector and the shadows cast by corporate giants
  • Makes the case for food co-ops as an alternative
  • Shows how co-ops spur the creation of local food-based economies and enhance low-income food access.

Grocery Story is for everyone who eats. Whether you strive to eat more local and sustainable food, or are in support of community economic development, Grocery Story will leave you hungry to join the food co-op movement in your own community.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780865719071
Publisher: New Society Publishers
Publication date: 05/07/2019
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 232,604
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 16 Years

About the Author

Jon Steinman has studied and worked with all things food for over two decades. He was the producer and host of the internationally syndicated radio show and podcast Deconstructing Dinner , once ranked as the most-listened-to food podcast in Canada. Jon was the writer and host of Deconstructing Dinner: Reconstructing our Food System – a television and web series currently streaming online. Jon coordinates and curates the annual Deconstructing Dinner Film Festival of compelling food documentaries and was an elected director from 2006-2016 of the Kootenay Co-op – Canada's largest independent retail consumer food co-op, serving as Board President from 2014-2016. He lives in Nelson, BC.

Table of Contents

"Food System" Defined
Preface
Note from the Author: Big Food
Introduction

[1] Rise of the Grocery Giants
A&P — The First of the Giants
Other Giants Emerge
Self-Service
Regulating the Rise of Big Business
Expanding the War on Chain Grocers
Enter the Supermarket

[2] Retailer Market Power
Taming the Chains
The Giants Break Loose
The Accelerating of Supermarket Dominance
Regulating Market Power Today
The Generational Effect and Self-Reinforcing Apathy

[3] Food Prices and the People Who Grow Our Food
The Farm Crisis of the 1980s
The "Farm Share" and "Marketing Share" of Our Food Dollars
Squeezing Food Dollars Through Bottlenecks
Farm Value vs. Retail Price
Eaters Pay the Price for Concentrated Markets
Mergers Decrease Prices Paid to Farmers
The Most Extreme Expression of the Farm Income Crisis

[4] Grocery Stores — The Food System's Control Center
Shaping Food — Literally
Losses in Flavor
Cosmetic Requirements and Food Safety
Genetic Diversity
Food Standards as Buyer Leverage
Standards and Food Waste
Marching Orders for Suppliers
Suppliers Finance Their Own Servitude
Category Management
Pay to Play, Pay to Stay
Is It Bribery?
Private Labels (Deliberately Anonymous)
Barriers to Entry
Setting Food Policy
Eaters at the Controls

INTERLUDE
Welcome to What's Possible, North America
Welcome to Resisterville (Nelson, British Columbia)
Grocery Giants in Nelson
The Regional Food Movement
Viroqua, Wisconsin

[5] Enter the Co-op
What Is a Co-op?
Mission-Driven and Transparent
Resilience
History of the Cooperative Movement
The First Consumer Co-ops in Canada and the United States
The Empowered Consumer

[6] The Food Co-op Waves
The Consumer Wave
The New Wave
The New Wave Grows Up
The Newest Wave
Beyond Natural Foods — Co-ops forLow-Income Communities

[7] Consumer Food Co-ops Today
There's Nothing Cookie-Cutter About Food Co-ops
Food Co-ops as Community Centers
Education
Kitchen Skills Training
Children's Programming
Co-ops in Schools
Food Access
Inexpensive Meals for Community Building
Community Giving
Nonprofit Arms
Positive Workplace
Working Members
Cooperation with Local Businesses
The Co-op Footprint
Community-Owned Good Food Media
College Town Co-ops
Governance and Ownership
Profiles of Board Directors at Food Co-ops
Engaging Members in Their Co-op
Diversity
Social Cohesion
Activism
On Prices
Unleashing Potential

[8] Co-ops as Food Desert Remediation
Greensboro, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Other Stories of "What's Possible"
Starting a Co-op Isn't a Shoo-In for Success

[9] Food Co-ops and the Local Economy
Easier Access to Eaters
True Local
The Language of "Economic Development"
Food Co-ops as Economic Development
Local Food System Stimulation
Anchors for Main Street
Retention and Rearing of Community Leaders
A Different Kind of Profit

[10] Local Foodmakers — The People Behind the Products
Co-ops as Small Business Incubators
The People Behind the Products
Where Does Your Food Dollar Go?
Planning the Co-op Shelves with Local Producers

[11] Threats to Food Co-ops
Fierce Competition
The Co-opting of "Local"
The "Whole Foods Effect"
The Demise of Co-op Atlantic
Closed
Relevance
Ideology
Institutional Isomorphism
Member Engagement

[12] Growing Food Co-ops, Growing the Movement
Start-ups
Financing Food Co-ops
Co-ops Supporting Co-ops

Epilogue: Where Do We Go from Here?
Acknowledgments
Grocery Story's Supporters
Endnotes
Index
About the Author
A Note about the Publisher

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"A great read! Full of energy and eyes-wide-open hope. In an era of extreme economic concentration, Jon Steinman awakens us to elements of an arising democratic economy, hidden in plain sight. Grocery Story is, above all, an empowering tale we need now more than ever."
— Frances Moore Lappé, author, Diet for a Small Planet and Daring Democracy

"Wake up folks! Co-ops are cool. They bring power back to conscious citizenship. Co-ops are democracy at work in an age calling out for common sense."
— Joel Solomon, co-author, The Clean Money Revolution

"Steinman skillfully blends the history of food retailing with contemporary examples to explain how cooperative food stores consistently have served as a principled alternative and moderating influence on corporate consolidation of food retailing in North America."
— John Ikerd, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri-Columbia

"An important consideration of the impact that can happen when going to the grocery store becomes an activity and not a chore, and
when a grocery cart can ultimately become a vehicle for social change."
— Melissa Cohen, General Manager, Isla Vista Food Co-op

"On par with many of the other food books that have inspired me — Diet for a Dead Planet , Food Politics , Slow Money , Stolen Harvest , Fast Food Nation , Omnivore's Dilemma , In Defense of Food ."
— Ari Derfel, General Manager, Kootenay Co-op, past Executive Director, Slow Money, and cofounder, Gather Restaurant

"Explores how capitalism distorts the food system from farm to plate. A pleasure to read and is crammed with valuable information, stories and analysis. If you eat, you should give this book a read."
— Tom Webb, author, From Corporate Globalization to Global Co-operation and president, Global Co-operation

"An impressive synthesis of critical analysis of systemic societal ills and a very practical "how-to" manual on how to address them. This is literally the best thing I've read about cooperatives, monopolization / oligopolization, and the industrial food system in ages."
— Christopher DeAngelis, Food Co-op Manager (formerly Apple Street Market Cooperative, Mariposa Food Co-op)

"Presents a clear and engaging historical perspective on the evolution of our food co-ops and illustrates the many benefits that they offer
their owners and customers by sharing the stories of co-ops today. Grocery Story should be required reading for anyone helping to organize a new food co-op and everyone who cares at all about their food."
— Stuart Reid, Executive Director, Food Co-op Initiative / Past General Manager, Just Food Co-op and Seward Co-op

"Steinman shows us we can confront the power of food retailers and create an inclusive, health promoting, and sustainable food system."
— Rod MacRae, Associate Professor, York University

"It's worth studying the history of how and why food co-ops formed as a model to ensure continuing access and authenticity in an alternative local and organic food supply."
— Mark Kastel, Cornucopia Institute

"Not just a "must-read" for advocates and participants of the local food movement, it is a "must-implement" to pave the way toward a sustainable and just food system for us all."
— Rob Greenfield, author, Dude Making a Difference

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