What do you think of when you hear the word “co-op”? Most people will likely envision a small health food store or perhaps their local credit union. However, these are just part of a myriad number of businesses that follow a cooperative structure.
Consumer demand for craft beer is off the charts, but without locally grown, craft ingredients it’s really just the same old beer, isn’t it?
The Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA) and Taste the Local Difference (TLD) have a long history of supporting the local food community in Michigan. In 2017, the organizations began partnering to exchange service benefits, providing even more support to the state’s local farms and farmers markets. Participating members/partners of either organization now receive reduced rates on services from the other.
Darren Mercier didn’t imagine he’d be spearheading the effort to establish a natural food cooperative. But, when he moved to Iron River on the western border of the U.P. seven years ago, he and his wife missed the easy access to the healthy foods they were used to eating. The Merciers aren’t the only people in Iron River who want more healthy, organic, and local options. More than 50 people have already become members of The Co-op of Iron County before the doors have opened and many people have told Darren when the store is open, they plan to become members as well.
It’s a typical Thursday morning, and Detroit Public Schools’ Office of School Nutrition Executive Chef Kevin Frank is chopping carrots and celery for a school catering event, directing staff on lunch prep and coordinating with vendors to place orders and schedule deliveries. All the while, he’s thinking ahead to what he’ll serve on next month’s menu.