To the Editor,
Many folks in Portland are feeling at a loss when it comes to buying groceries. In 2017 Amazon bought Whole Foods. Last month Portlanders learned that New Seasons Market, once a local and independent grocery store chain, will be sold by its parent company to Emart, the largest retailer in South Korea.
Fred Meyer, named for a Portlander, has been owned by the The Kroger Company since 1998, the US’ largest supermarket chain by revenue. Among so many mergers and acquisitions, co-ops remain a local option.
Portland is home to three member-owned grocery co-ops: Alberta Cooperative Grocery, Food Front Cooperative Grocery, and People’s Food Co-Op. Co-ops are owned and democratically controlled by the people who use or work for them. Members of the community purchase a share, and have a voice in what we sell, how we sell it, and where our food comes from.
Members elect our Board of Directors. Members shape our values: from economic justice to sustainability to supporting local farmers. Most importantly, members form the vibrant community which makes a co-op more than just a grocery store.
Conventional grocers owned by national/international entities understandably don’t share a co-op’s focus on its local community.
A 2012 report by the Cooperative Grocery Network found that the average food co-op creates 9.3 jobs for every $1M in sales. A conventional grocer creates only 5.8 jobs per $1M. That same report shows that for every $1,000 a shopper spends at their local food co-op, $1,604 dollars in economic activity is generated in their local economy. That’s $239 more than if they had spent that same $1,000 at a conventional grocer in the same community.
For those in Portland wishing to vote with their dollars, consider co-ops in 2020.
Board Vice President, People’s Food Co-Op
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