Last month I visited the Crow Wing Food Co-op in Brainerd. They've been around for 30 years, but because of the push to support local food producers and a move to a newer, brighter building, the co-op is exploding.
Desiree Hopkins is a mother of 3 and a member of the coop. I asked her why she shopped there. "The girls of course" she said. "And they are super smart and seeking out healthy, local food."
When you walk into the coop - the bells on the door ring, and more often than not, someone greets you with a smile. While I was there for about an hour I saw a young woman with a baby buying organic baby food, a mother and daughter who asked about using food stamps, a member dropping off older editions of Mother Earth News, a woman who sat at one of the tables with her laptop, using the Co-op's wi-fi and drinking coffee with her gluten-free cookie... as well as farmers dropping off produce and tourists stopping in on their way to Duluth.
So why, in this down economy, have the food co-ops in our listening area not just been able to stay afloat, but find themselves expanding? Throughout the summer I'll check in on the Natural Harmony Food Coop in Virginia and Harmony Natural Foods Coop (who is also expanding) in Bemidji. You can listen hereto the audio story of Crow Wing Food Co-op.