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Old 04-05-2007, 04:21 PM
Location: Margaritaville, State Of mind
275 posts, read 1,235,293 times
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I hear a lot of talk about the food co-op in Burlington and how great it is. Forgive my ignorance, but what exactly is a Food Co-op? Is it like a Farmer's Market?
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Old 04-05-2007, 08:55 PM
Location: Burlington VT
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No, a farmer's market is a gathering of farmers and other food sellers ...selling thier food together in a particular place on a particular day.

Traditionally, a food-coop is simply a food store owned by it's members.
Years ago, a group of people in VT decided to order food in bulk and share the savings. They'd order together, then get together periodically and literally split the food up into orders in somebodies living room. My family started doing this in about 1974. That became The Onion River Coop years later when too many people wanted to get in on it and nobody had a living room or garage big enough...For several decades, The Onion River Coop had a building in Burlington's Old North End. It was always open to the public, but if you wanted to pay dues, and put in some work time, you could vote and get the members discount. This was when Brown Rice was 39 cents a pound. You'd usually bring your own jars and containers, weigh them, write the cost of the stuff down and then go help check yourself out.

Anyhoo...many many years later (perhaps 5 years ago) The City Of Burlington had a nice building available (in the old police station) and the City And Economic Development Office really wanted to see a good food store go in there, to help people without cars, and to keep Downtown Burlington competitive with the Suburban Supermarket chains. The city put the site up for bid, and after MUCH controversy, The Onion River Co-op won over (I think) Shaws.

Now - just to confuse things further, while I enjoy the City Market in Downtown Burlington, I'm strongly of the opinion that in many ways many of the people who shop at City Market would be better served if it was a Shaws there. But I suppose that it's counterballanced by the Co-op/City Market's commitment to locally grown produce and so on.

Sorry to be long winded, but hey, (what can I say) I'm an old sprout-rinser from way back!

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