BCS/Bloomingfoods Board Studies Cooperative Businesses and Consumer Trends

As part of our ongoing education activities, this past month board member Danielle McClelland researched co-op pharmacies. She found three types: 1) retail stores with pharmacies included; 2) worker cooperative pharmacies; and 3) regional independent pharmacies which have banded together for greater purchasing power and support.

The board discussed the potential of supporting a local pharmacy that would include such things as a greater selection of homeopathic and herbal remedies, educating the public on alternatives to chemical medicine, as well as supplying some of the medication prescriptions needed by members. There are many differing views on this subject, and a pharmacy is not currently in the works for BCS; we are simply looking into what others are doing in order to expand our own horizons.

Cooperative business is a very common business model in Great Britain, yet these co-ops are not necessarily founded on the Cooperative Principles (stated on the back page in this newsletter). It is simply a legal structure rather than a philosophy. See the back page of each issue of  Bloomingfoods News, “Co-op 101,” for more about the cooperative priniciples and other information about this business model.

Board member Tim Clougher researched “green” stores. This is an area which is actually quite “gray.” Calling oneself or one’s product “green” these days is often just a marketing ploy. There are many ways to suggest that something is “green” and, therefore, good for the environment, but when looking into how it was made or how much cost to transport it or the treatment of workers or other involvements of the corporation making the product, a lot of questions arise. We can at least be glad that the general public want things to be “green.” If marketers are aiming for us, we know that a trend is happening, and, in time, people will sort through the fake from the real in order to sustain life on the planet.

“Fair trade” and “sustainable” are also popular words attempting to describe some aspect of green living. Many fair trade groups supply such things as coffee mugs, books, gift and kitchen items, bags and baskets that are made by small producer co-ops, particularly from other countries where a small wage can go a long way to give the workers a decent life. You will find many fair trade products for sale at all three Bloomingfoods stores.

The board continues to look into what others are doing to find ways to do business that assure people in Bloomington and South Central Indiana will have:
• a market for local, organic and healthy products, meeting the needs of consumers and producers
• increased co-operative ownership that strengthens the local economy and community
• a model of sustainable, profitable business
• an increased understanding of the local food system and its importance

Your membership and purchases are aimed at fulfilling these goals. Thanks for helping us make the world a better place.