By Brandon Kane, General Manager
These are stressful times. Many of us are overworked and find it increasingly difficult to cover our basic living expenses without performing some form of balancing act to get us to the next paycheck. Cooperation, economic and otherwise, offers us an actual alternative to the debt-ridden isolation of conventional capitalism. All around the world, co-ops have transformed battered communities by creating a more sustainable economy financed by owner participation. The Evergreen Cooperative Initiative of Cleveland, OH is an inspiring example of building community wealth in a post-industrial America.
We have more options than ever before in regard to where we purchase our food. Competitors are everywhere, from brick-and-mortar stores to online meal delivery services. If we truly believe that the cooperative model helps build a better future, then we have to make ourselves heard above all the noise. It’s critical that we grow our ranks by demonstrating the value of cooperative ownership. What could be a better way to do this than telling a compelling story
For GreenStar to expand its positive impact on our local economy, we need the full participation of you, our Co-op owners. That includes everything from investing in our Capital Campaign to choosing to shop the Co-op for your groceries. I believe telling our story to a wider audience will help build the momentum needed to foster this higher level of owner participation.
Our story starts with how cooperatives interact with their communities. The average conventional grocery business in the US attributes less than 2% of its gross sales to locally grown or produced goods. GreenStar blows this away! Over 25% of our gross sales comes from goods produced or grown within 100 miles of Ithaca. That reflects a massive difference. Imagine the impact GreenStar could have on our local economy if we were operating at twice our current size or more, selling twice the amount of local products! This is the way we take back our food system, folks.
The cooperative business model is rich with positive comparative figures. On average, about 5% of a conventional grocery’s sales comes from the sale of organic products; the cooperative average is 42%. Co-ops also lead the way in food rescue. A co-op grocery donates, on average, twice the percentage of food to local pantries and food rescue organizations. We pay far higher wages, offer better benefits, and strive to have our owners participate in critical decisions that affect the direction and future of cooperatively owned businesses.
I see so much potential realizable through our collective cooperation. This is one of the paths forward for our society, a way to equalize the playing field in our community. You can be part of this change by doing what you can for your co-op — whether it be shopping with us a little more often, volunteering for a Board committee, or investing in our expansion through our Capital Campaign. This is our story: it is possible, in our small upstate New York town, to set our differences aside, come together, and become a driving force for change in the world!