Board Report: Community Food Security

"We're only secure when we can look out our kitchen window and see our food growing and our friends working nearby."  – Bill Mollison, founder of the Permaculture movement.

It may seem odd that a store that sells groceries would be encouraging people to grow their own.  But the two are not really at odds.  Not only do we depend on independent growers and producers in order to stay in business, but, as a member-owned cooperative, we encourage people to do everything within their power to provide food for themselves and others.

The BCS board of directors each year establishes an Education Committee which plans the year's focus for board learning.  This year the topic is "Democracy, What Does It Really Look Like?"  At its foundation, democracy is basically people taking charge of their lives and helping others to do the same.  We provide for the common good.  That usually involves the basics like food, clothing and shelter.

We have been taught that providing these basics was all that "primitive" people had time to do in their lives.  While not exactly true (a researcher of Native American tribes described their lives as "eat, dance, eat, dance, eat, dance."), indigenous people everywhere made sure that they did provide these basics to their people.

In our modern, high-tech, very busy world, we are not doing such a good job at seeing that everyone is fed.  Whenever people's needs are not being adequately met, people figure out ways to help themselves.  One of these ways is by organizing a democratically-operated co-operative business.

In a recent talk by Debbie Trocha, Executive Director of the Indiana Cooperative Development Center, Inc., we learned that about 33% of farmers' products are marketed through co-ops, and there are more than 2,500 farmer-owned cooperatives in the U.S.  8,000+ credit unions provide financial services to approximately 87 million members.  800+ rural electric co-ops provide electricity to more than 42 million people.  And, more than 223 million people are served by insurance companies owned by or closely affiliated with co-ops.  People began these businesses in order to provide services for our modern basic needs not being met by other businesses or government.

Even though we live in a country with an abundance of resources, we are not currently feeding all of our citizens.  And those we are feeding are not always getting the nutrition needed for good health due to pollution of soil, water and seed.  Therefore, in true democratic fashion, co-operatives of all kinds have formed to address this problem.  BCS is in the process of expanding to its fifth location, purchases as much as possible from local growers, supports the local Farmers' Markets, and contributes food, money and time to numerous food kitchens for those in need as well as being a major support for local events.  Eat. Dance.  Eat.  Dance.  Eat.  Dance.  Sounds good to me.  Let us celebrate and continue to share the harvest.  This is our true security.

Carol Bridges
for the Bloomingfoods/BCS Board of Directors