As shoppers, how much can we truly say we know about where our food comes from? Aside from the occasional sticker saying California or Mexico on your strawberries or peppers, the source of food is still a broad mystery to most consumers.
However, some people are becoming increasingly concerned and inquisitive about where their food is grown. The health risks caused by cross-country travel to bring food to national supermarkets, as well as pesticide usage and genetically modified food production, have caused people to question the methods that bring food to their area.
Food cooperatives offer the opportunity for members to participate in the process of bringing food to the home, and a new food co-op is in the works for Buffalo.
From its very name to its mission statement, one thing is clear about the Workers’ Food Co-op: This will be an establishment dedicated to closely connecting shoppers with wholesome and beneficial foods at the lowest realistic cost.
The creation of an organization like this on the West Side will help bring wholesome food to a blossoming neighborhood in need of a community program such as this.
The WFC is unique in that it will be staffed by, as well as owned by, its members. Becoming a member is free, but each member is required to do a four-hour work shift every four weeks.
By employing members, the food co-op decreases its labor costs, which allows it to offer much lower prices for higher-quality food.
The organizers are putting much thought into the suppliers of the goods that will stock the co-op. Local, organic food will be the basis of the products in the store. Beyond that, companies that have unsustainable, inhumane or unsafe backgrounds will not be considered as a source for the co-op. Any products that contain GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) or that stem from a company that supports the use of GMO ingredients will not be carried at the WFC. Corporations that do not support the mandatory labeling of all foods that contain GMOs also will not be supported, as the co-op firmly advocates labeling of all such food.
If you’re wondering if your food is produced with GMOs, it probably is. More than 80 percent of conventional processed food contains genetically modified ingredients. The worst part? Sixty-four countries around the world have deemed GMO products unsafe for consumption, an opinion shared by the 91 percent of Americans who support the labeling of all products containing GMOs.
At the WFC, no products containing genetically modified ingredients will be sold, providing a guarantee that the co-op only markets food that is safe.
Young people can play a role in this process. Teens ages 14 and up can be active members of the WFC as long as they are equipped with working papers. As a child- and family-friendly enterprise, the WFC also gives youth in the community the opportunity to participate in making a positive impact in the area, as well as to spread awareness that affordable, healthy food is not an impossibility, or even a luxury. It is attainable. If “you are what you eat,” shouldn’t we all try and eat healthier? Especially if the food is being sold at an affordable cost?
The WFC is in the preliminary stages and has not yet opened for business. Those who are interested in playing a role in the startup process can contact Theresa Baker at email@example.com, or visit the Workers’ Food Co-op Facebook page for more information.
Valerie Wales is freshman at City Honors School.
The WFC is unique in that it will be staffed by, as well as owned by, its members.