Saturday, May 27, 2006

Spring General Member Meeting

What a great spring meeting we had last Wednesday. Thank you all for attending and contributing your insights, concerns, and perspectives. I hope more of us can come together at the membership meetings and other coop events to discuss how we can come together around vital issues and thereby influence change.

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".


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Who Owns Who--Food Edition

Yeah, I know these charts are out of date as soon as they are put together, but this seemed like a helpful resource plus the other articles on this site seemed really great. I think getting this kind of info out there would be a wonderful consciousness raiser. Check it out here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

the voice of the cooperative movement in CNY

I recently met with Donna & Karen about the contributions they've made to our community over the years. It was an enlightening and exciting conversation. Afterward Karen sent me this from the Intervale website - "As people disconnect from active lifestyles, nutritious food, and the natural world, they become less healthy. Community fabric becomes frayed. Food producers struggle financially while people nearby consume highly processed food products with minimal nutritional value manufactured in distant facilities."

This message is a succinct declaration that articulates what we at the Syracuse Real Food Coop are most concerned about. It is our mission to advocate for a healthy community by supporting local producers and service providers, by offering nutritious food for sale, and educating others about cooperative business.

That's my thought. Let us know what you think.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I was so encouraged by our board meeting yesterday evening. Actually, I think I'm more encouraged by the growth and evolution of our board over the last couple of years. Everyone is passionate about why we're there, committed to doing what's best for the store and on behalf of the members that elected us. Our discussions focus on key concerns; profitability, prudent decision making now to ensure future viability, and most importantly, engaging our members more effectively. We are involved.

The subject of member engagement is core to our success as a business and as a movement. As we know our store is, in many ways, like any other business. In the seventies we recognized a need and stepped in to fill it. We continue to meet the needs of health-conscious shoppers by providing a variety of products from as many local producers of goods as we can at as reasonable a price as we can. And like any other business in order to continue growing we have a responsibility to serve our customers efficiently and effectively, be well managed, and of course, survive financially. However, there are distinct differences between cooperatives and any other business.

We, the members own the store. As owners, we provide the capital (money) necessary for starting and then growing the business. We also use the products we sell and when the store is profitable we share in those profits based on our purchases at the store over the prior year. On the other hand, in investor-owned businesses each shareholder has control over that business based on how many shares they hold, that is how much money they've invested in the business. It's important that we not just understand, but embrace the fact that we control our business equally. Each member has one vote regardless of how much you spend, loan, or give the co-op. Each member has the opportunity to vote on who represents them on the board, what initiatives the co-op is involved in, and lots of other key decisions.

So, what's my point? Be involved!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Wilkommen, Bievenue, Welcome

Start singing folks because we have a lot to sing about. If Cabaret didn't come to mind try this line, "Your still growin' you're still crowin' your still goin' strong". Remember Hello Dolly?

Anyway, the point of this blog is to share with you the great happenings of the Syracuse Real Food Cooperative's Council. Hopefully, you'll spend time here with a cup of tea or glass of soy milk and engage us in dialogue about food favorites, food issues, store concerns, politics, economics, democracy, our expansion planning, board development, and whatever else interests you.

So, sit back, relax, and engage.