Spring General Member Meeting
One of several issues that is at the forefront of our continued discussions is "organic". Some members with whom I've spoken believe we should carry only organic produce, for example, and not commercial. There are a lot of great reasons why going organic is important, but is it the answer to the questions of sustainibility, packaging, shipping, nutrition, and more?
This morning I read an article from IPS about organic farming in China. The article stated, "The demand is driven by an explosion of organic food sales overseas. China's organic food exports totalled 142 million US dollars in 2003 and 200 million US dollars in 2004. While these overseas sales account for only a fraction of the the 27 billion US dollar global market for organic foods, they are increasing at a rate of 50% annually."
Wow! Organic foods is a 27 billion dollar industry. No wonder Pepsi wants in. While China may not be able to expand its organic farming capabilities because of land scarcity it's gratifying to me that so many consumers are beginning to think about the role food plays in good health. Okay, maybe that's not the underlying reason, but I hate to think organic and whole foods is a fad like bell-bottom jeans.
Regardless, as a shopper it's often difficult for me to identify what's come from where and how safe it is to consume. I worry about the vast amounts of food available at supermarket chains. How long has it been in storage, how early did they have to pick it so it would ship before it rots, where did it ship from, how was it handled, what were these chickens fed, and on and on the nagging questions go. That's one reason why I'm a member of the coop. I trust that the management and staff at the store will guide me by making it easier to identify and choose what I want and even what I may not have wanted, but have chanced to try and enjoy.
It comes down to where and how we're willing to spend our dollars. I may not purchase pineapples anymore, but you might. I may want healthy convenience foods, but you might not. What's so great about our coop community is that we shape the store stock by what we're willing to spend money on. I appreciate the way the store staff pay attention to what we want and how they make every reasonable effort to balance our desires with our mission.
As president of the coop council I'm proud we focus on regional products and support local food producers even though I know members continue to ask for, and purchase, choices from outside these boundries. I'm excited about the future of our business and the vision that is collectively ours. I'm energized by the contributions of our members and ask that we keep talking and debating and rallying around the issues.
Please let us know what you think by posting comments or sending us an email to "bod at syracuserealfood.com".