With books from Michael and movies like Food Inc., there is increased awareness of the environmental costs of our industrial food system.  My local food co-op grocery store in Montpelier, Vermont, is considering expanding to have a second store in Waterbury, Vermont.  (See the article in the local paper here.)   An issue that has arisen is whether the new store should carry conventional products since many in the community (that walk to the existing grocery store space that would be taken over) are low-income, and conventional food is cheaper.  The problem is that the organic market is already resembling commodity-driven industrial agriculture (e.g., lots of food miles, factory processing, lots of packaging, etc.).  My suggestion is that the new co-op not carry conventional food, but instead consider creative programs so low-income individuals have access to better food products.  Ideas might include free memberships, sliding scale for membership dues based on income, and greater discounts for those already on government assistance.  The Co-Op should continue its committment to being a “member-owned, community-based natural market committed to building a dynamic community of healthy individuals, sustainable local food systems and thriving cooperative commerce,” therby shifting people’s food choices for the better.

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