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Monday, April 11, 2011

What is...A Food Coop?

There is no question that food is one of the most expensive things that you have to buy. That and with the fact that you actually have to continue to buy it no matter what - or you will literally starve.

There are lots of studies done on food; the right food, the wrong food, etc, etc, etc.... but for the most part organic, and fresh is the best way to go.

I live in a cold climate where the growing season is less than 4 months at best, so I supplement my family's diet with food from a Organic Food Buying Coop.
The way that it works is that you find an existing coop (the easiest) or start your own by finding 4 or more family's that want to work with each other cooperatively to save money on food.

You have to find a Company that then ships to a Distributor in your city. We use Horizon who is okay with food buying coops. We only have the rules of having to have a credit card on File and that we need to order a minimum of $1200 every order (be that monthly, every two months, every 10 weeks or even quarterly.)

Once you set up your Coop, you need to figure out a way to organize the order. We use which offers free software to keep track of what people order out of the catalogue, the invoices etc.

We have 2 people who follow the order from the beginning to the end, by making sure that we add our cases in a timely matter, call/email in the order, and arrange for pickup.

The great thing about a Food Coop is that you share the costs by splitting cases. You also save money because you take out the middle man. The Cooperative part is that you have to give up a few hours of your day on a Sunday or Saturday every two months (or so) and then go to the distributor and pick up the food, put it in your vehicle, sort it out and shop. :)

You may be skeptical, but I can honestly say that my 250g Goat Cheddar costs between $7 - 11 dollars at the store and costs me $5.90/bar from the food coop. (and that is just cheese!)

Any thing that you buy from a natural or whole foods store is available (minus the fresh produce), is available for 25 - 50% off the price.

Couple this with shopping at farmers markets and buying meat in bulk (direct from farmers), help to keep my family healthy.

We spend $250/every two months on Food Coop, $125-150/week for Fresh Food, and $100/month on Meat....for a family of 5.

I think that it is worth it.


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