And why make one for Nashville?
A cooperative, or a co-op for short, is a for-profit, member-owned, and controlled company. Profits are usually re-invested in the organization, or distributed as dividends back to members. Right now, the Nashville Food Co-op has a volunteer board and committees focused on ways to bring value to current members.
Co-ops Are the Democracy of Food
Why a co-op?! Besides what I said back in post #1–namely, that it reflects and enhances our unique sense of place as Nashvillians–Nashville is the sister city to none other than Athens, Greece – where westerners love to celebrate as democracy’s birthplace. (Humans have existed on this planet for 200,000 years and we really think it JUST started a few thousand of those years ago? I mean…sure.) ANYHOO! We’re Athens’ sister city, and we’re a place full of creative-minded, caring people who all love to talk about Nashville, and are proud to say they live here. We deserve all the democracy we can get in this city!
A Local Economy
Look at the growth of the Participatory Budgeting Project. We can all help decide how the city spends ten million dollars! To me, that’s a TON of artist grants, supporting locals who live and work here by paying them to make our city better for all of us. That’s supporting the local economy. i.e. creating wealth and health IN Nashville FOR Nashvillians.
A food co-op does the same thing. Do you want affordable, healthy, fresh food that you know was grown close by? Do you want to make sure employees are treated fairly? When you join the Nashville Food Co-op you know you’re building an ecosystem where your dollars circulate and stay here. Where your voice matters. You’re creating jobs for your neighbors while you save money on the best food produced here.
Supply Chain Super Hero
By the way, that’s added supply chain security for Nashville. By diversifying and having generally 10x more suppliers than big grocers, food co-ops tend to act as a kind of safety net “when supply chains shudder.” If you bought a gun when covid hit for security, you should become a member of the food co-op. I mean, right? Idk, is that extreme? You were probably after that feeling of safety in a tough time, yeah? Food co-ops kept many farmers afloat during Covid and had stock on their shelves when big grocers were empty. That’s some good security right there. All those jobs were saved, not to mention food security. That’s nice.
Co-ops = Community
Could the power of our collective purchasing power bring discounts at our favorite local retailers around the city? Could it mean deliveries of fresh vegetables from local farms or discounts at farmers’ markets? Could it mean deals on cooking classes, honeybee-keeping workshops, or getting a behind-the-scenes look at how your favorite local jam gets from the field to your kitchen? Could there be events in partnership with local chefs and vendors, like discounted pop-up dinners, volunteer days at a local farm, or kid-friendly adventures to discover where our food comes from?
Delicious AND Nutritious
To too many people, healthy food means “fancy food.” This is backward. The healthiest lettuce you can eat is the stuff that was just picked and put in front of you. Fruit and vegetables that have traveled however long from their origin to a storehouse, maybe to another storehouse, to the grocery store to sit on a shelf until you get it home until whenever it is you eat that vegetable…that nutrition is…better than nothing! BUT it ain’t great. That’s science. Having locally sourced produce available is a human right if you ask me. It’s something we all deserve.
It’s democratic to get people onto an equal starting point in this life. Healthy food helps kids concentrate in school. Introducing city kids to food grown in the ground is important to get them to then eat it. It can help prevent many diseases, no matter how old or young you are, which could take some of the pressure off our beleaguered, burnt-out healthcare workers. Any way you slice it, a food co-op only improves our community. Because it can have so many direct effects on our day-to-day lives, and those of our neighbors, food is the center of society’s wheel in so many ways.
If you’re reading this as a member, what made you join up? And how do you hope the co-op will benefit you? If you’re not a member, what questions do you have for us? What would make you consider joining?
The Nashville Food Co-op acknowledges what we call Nashville, Tennessee was and is the traditional homelands of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Shawnee Peoples, stewards of the land and waterways, and their various inhabitants, and who are still here in this place. This place was more than likely changed from nature into the property in order to be commandeered, and it’s important to bear that legacy in mind whenever we’re talking about our connection to this place.
About the Author
Ariana Hodes is a performing artist by training—acting and singing since she could walk and talk. She is a photographer, videographer, writer, traveler, bartender, reader, and imbiber of media except horror. (Not gonna do it.)She finds spirit in nature, and thinks it was no coincidence she ended up working on a small natural farm in NH during the height of the pandemic learning from the kind of 3rd-generation land-steward we think of when we think “farmer.”