By Laurie Guevara-Stone
Special to The Sopris Sun
If you’ve wandered into the food co-op lately you may have noticed that it’s a lot more spacious. The store has expanded, and now has a table and chairs for people to hang out, socialize, and eat local organic food.
The Carbondale Community Food Cooperative (CCFC) on Main Street is Carbondale’s only member-owned natural grocery store. There are currently 465 member-owners. A $75 lifetime membership fee means you own a share of the cooperative, have a voice in decision-making, receive weekend discounts and can order bulk items. Although the store wouldn’t be what it is today without its member-owners, anyone and everyone can shop there.
A significant difference between a cooperative and your average grocery store is the ownership structure. Large grocery stores are owned by corporations that are located outside the Roaring Fork Valley, and distribute profits among managers and shareholders. The CCFC is owned by its members. Profits are reinvested into the store to expand and improve the selections. Eventually, the co-op hopes to create a dividend program that returns profits to its member owners.
With the recent expansion, CCFC has started a monthly lecture series on different topics related to organic food and sustainable agriculture. The lecture series kicked off on Aug. 7 with Dr. Jody Powell presenting “Natural vs. Organic, What’s the Difference?” She discussed current issues around the topic of food labeling and GMO’s. Dr. Powell explained the difference between a product labeled organic (one with a label that reads “made with organic ingredients”) and one labeled natural. She also discussed the possible health dangers of GMOs. The next lecture is scheduled for October with David Teitler, known to many as Dr. Dave, on the issue of mushrooms and our immune system.
The co-op also offers a monthly membership appreciation day where all member-owners receive 10 percent off their purchases (instead of the regular 5 percent discount on weekends), monthly specials and a monthly newsletter highlighting new products, sales, and interesting natural food-related news.
All of the produce carried in the store is grown to organic standards or beyond, and much is from local farmers. “We try to offer a lot of local Colorado products,” said Lisa Ellena, the co-op’s assistant manager. “It’s great that we have such an abundance of healthy natural products made right here in our state.”
Local products include Gina Cucina’s delicious soups, Potter Farms cage-free eggs, Osage Garden’s vegetables and herbs, and honey, cookies, bars, marinades, juices and more.
The co-op will be hosting a celebration and fundraiser for the recent expansion on Sept. 4 at 6 p.m., at Carbondale Beer Works. There will be live music from Let Them Roar, food using Colorado ingredients and great door prizes. One dollar of every CBW beer sold goes to the co-op. Come by to dance to some great music, eat delicious food and enjoy some locally brewed beer, all while supporting your local food co-op!
Laurie Guevara-Stone is a board member for the Carbondale Community Food Cooperative (CCFC) and frequent shopper there.