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Perspective: The joys -- and benefits! -- of community-based food co-ops

Christyn Rittenhouse

This last August, I decided to go to the corner farmers market. Not so much because I really needed any produce, but after the last year, what I was really craving was people.

Just past the tomatoes and flowers, I spotted a tent that read Screw City Food Co-op. My heart sang and I literally danced over to the table. There I met two friendly people, Raymond and Susan, both co-op owners.

I quickly learned that, no, we do not have a brick-and-mortar location in Rockford yet, but if I joined, I could be a part of growing a community-based grocery store. Sign me up!

What’s the big deal about grocery stores? Rockford folks may remember Hilander, Logli, and our beloved 320 Store. The owner of 320, Dennis, not only knew my name but he also knew my favorites (figs and raspberries), and that meant a lot to me.

These were not co-ops but locally owned stores that have slowly been replaced by big box chains.

Food co-ops take it a step further -- not only locally-owned, but owned by the community. By you and me -- if you decide join us, that is. Anyone can shop there; however, as an owner you get a small discount and a vote as to what is sold and other decisions. We get to have input!! How great is that?

Co-op principles include education, cooperation, and community. They support local farms and producers, pay fair wages, and by being locally owned much of the profit goes directly back into our own community. Honestly, they're just kind of cool.

Does any of this line up with your interests and values? Would you like to make a positive impact on our community? We’d love for you to join the movement...in Rockford or through the co-op closest to your own town.

I’m Christyn Rittenhouse and that’s my Perspective.

Christyn Rittenhouse graduated from Northern Illinois University with a major in psychology and minor in sociology. She works as a life coach and clutter coach/consultant. This Rockford resident is a travel, art fair, and community enthusiast.