P6 Products Support Local, Co-op, and Small Farmers

Find local, small producer, cooperatively owned and traded products at Bloomingfoods.

Food co-ops have long brought nourishing, fresh food to our communities. At Bloomingfoods, we’ve defined ourselves as cooperative trade leaders with a focus on local, sustainable, organic, and fairly traded foods.

Our commitment to these values demonstrates our members’ concerns for positive environmental impacts, better health, and strong local economies. We became a founding member of The Principle Six (P6) initiative in 2010, in order to join other co-ops in featuring products and companies that embody these values.

When talking about food, an important question to ask about all products is who owns them and who benefits from their purchase. Because Bloomingfoods is committed to building an economy that reflects and promotes the interests of consumers and of local and international small farmers, we helped launch a breakthrough new initiative in fall 2010, called Principle Six (P6): the Cooperative Trade Movement.

Along with five founding food co-op partners nationwide, and the worker-owned co-op Equal Exchange (recognized as a leader in fair trade), we highlight products that exemplify our primary ideals and principles. The goal? Increasing market access for small farmers, building cooperative supply chains, and ultimately changing and improving our food system. Four more food co-ops have recently joined us, launching the P6 initiative in their stores.

P6 promotes small farmers across the world, cooperative and nonprofit businesses, and local farmers and artisan producers. Our goal is to make it clear which products are part of P6, empowering consumers to use their purchasing dollars to create an economy that embodies these values. Join the conversation and use your own purchases to show your support for these values.

Positive change is also happening behind-the-scenes at P6 member co-ops as buyers and staff work to champion P6 farmers and producers, bringing more P6 products to the shelf. Together, the P6 cooperative trade movement works to build stronger cooperative relationships between farmers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers and consumers.

What are the criteria for each P6 element?

• Small farmer or artisan producer
• Cooperative or nonprofit
• Local

Local defines a product grown or produced in our region, or having value added in that region. Products from members of the Local Growers' Guild, a multi-level agriculture cooperative, are P6 local products.

Small producer is defined using these guidelines: a) Independently owned and operated, and b) Selling direct to store(s) or through a local distributor with a regional distribution area. Equal Exchange defines small producers according to the guidelines established by the Fairtrade International (FLO) for those international producers organized in cooperatives. Small producers are involved in human-scale enterprises.

Co-op is defined by cooperative ownership of the business or nonprofit status.

If a farmer, producer or business meets at least two of the three above criteria, their products qualify to be part of P6.

What are the cooperative principles and values?

The International Cooperative Alliance, founded in 1895, is an independent, non-governmental organization that unites, represents and serves co-ops worldwide. The seven cooperative principles they established are guidelines by which cooperatives put their values into practice. P6 was named in the spirit of the sixth principle.

1. Voluntary and Open Membership
2. Democratic Member Control
3. Member Economic Participation
4. Autonomy and Independence
5. Education, Training and Information
6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
7. Concern for Community

In addition, cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.

What is Equal Exchange?

Equal Exchange is a worker-owned cooperative based in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts. IN the early 80s, it was the first company to develop a fair trade system for coffee. For more than 20 years, Equal Exchange has partnered with small farmer co-ops and family farms in hopes of building a more equitable food system. Bloomingfoods carries Equal Exchange coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate, oilve oil, and domestically grown nuts and berries. Today, Equal Exchange is a leader of the Authentic Fair Trade effort, standing with small farmers.

How can I tell which products are P6?
We are taking an inventory of our P6 products, and will be including more P6 labels on our shelves. In many cases, P6 products don't yet have signs identifying that they qualify for the program. Over time, you will see more information in the stores. The back page of our monthly newsletter focuses on P6 product profiles, to also appear here on the web.

Why should I buy P6 products?
The dollars spent on P6 purchases support the farmers/producers who contribute to an economy in alignment with the Bloomingfoods values.

P6 helps tell the story of what co-ops do well and what differentiates us from other stores. P6 products are a culmination of our cooperative values and principles. Because they embody the highest criteria of those values, we use the P6 initiative to draw attention to these products.

What is the Bloomingfoods definition of local?

At Bloomingfoods, products are considered local if:

• They are grown or produced in our region, especially those within a 100 mile radius from Bloomington.

• It's possible to contact and visit the grower directly—within, say, a day's drive.

• Some level of production (beyond repackaging) takes place locally. For example, a local coffee roaster (such as Bloomington Coffee Roasters) is considered local. Although the raw product is not grown here, the coffee is roasted and packaged in the area, supporting local business with value-added production.

• Foods prepared by our own delis and commissary kitchen are considered P6. While all of the ingredients in them may not be P6, the fact that they are locally produced by a cooperative means that they contribute to the health of our local community, its small farmers, and the cooperative supply chain. When possible, we adjust these products with the addition of more P6 ingredients, using the initiative as a standard of quality in our own baking and meal preparation.

How can I tell if a P6 item is local?
A significant majority of P6 items are local to us in Bloomington, Indiana. As time goes by, P6 signs will sometimes replace or supplement the local label for these products.

Equal Exchange products are an obvious exception, as are others from more distant cooperatively-owned or operated companies. These products reflect the local standard within their geographic region, fostering the value of "local" around the world wherever small farmers and human-scale artisan producers keep alive the food or product traditions that directly support their communities.

Do I get a discount if I buy P6?
Look for specials on P6 products throughout the year. P6 products are not automatically discounted because of the label.

Where can I get P6 products?

There are five founding retail co-ops across the United States involved in the P6 initiative, with new food co-ops joining the effort over time:

• Bloomingfoods Co-op (founding member, Bloomington, Indiana)

• Community Mercantile Co-op (founding member, Lawrence, Kansas)

• Davis Food Co-op (founding member, Davis, California)

• Eastside Co-op (2012 member, Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Seward Co-op (founding member, Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Three Rivers Market (2012 member, Knoxville, Tennessee)

• Viroqua Co-op (2012 member, Viroqua, Wisconsin)

Weaver's Way Co-op (2012 member, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

• Willy Street Co-op (founding member, Madison, Wisconsin)