At our last community meeting, we had the pleasure of hearing from Marc BrownGold, General Manager at Swarthmore Co-op. Here is an excerpt from his moving speech that captures some of the reasons why community members in Ambler are committed to starting a full-service, cooperative grocery market in Ambler, and why it involves and impacts our local community:
What’s the connection between the broken food system and supporting a Co-op in your community?
Healthy foods free of pesticides, hormones, antibiotics are the rule and not the exception [at Swarthmore Co-op]. As a member of a food co-op you are supporting your local farmers. The question I get a lot from future members is “what do I ‘get’ if I join the co-op?” I remind them that it is not what you get but what you give to your community that makes a co-op membership. You give a local farmer the chance to sell all of his produce to a single place so he can use less fuel and less time in the process. He or she can FARM! You give the planet a chance to heal from unsustainable practices that growers of monoculture are using. You give members of your community a place to meet, chat, see a movie, take a cooking or dance class, have a great place to meet—all around this delicious food. You give 30 or 40 members of your community a great paying job with benefits—all centered on delicious healthy food.
I remember having a conversation about the food movement—slow food, organic food, non-GMO food—and talking about whether the movement would work if not for the great taste of the food. The truth is that the people involved in the food movement are more inclined to make a great tasting product, raise a great tasting product, and grow a great tasting product. They take stock in how their particular food item not only tastes, but how it affects the environment, how his/her workers should be treated, how his/her product may or may not be accessible to all.
I am happy to tell you more about the Co-op and how it has had an incredible effect on me, and I am sure that the people that I work with would be happy to do the same. We do not just come to work every day—we feel that we and the community are united around food and how it creates community.