In celebration of Co-op Month, Jonah Fertig-Burd, CDI’s Director of Cooperative Food Systems, gave a talk at the Portland Food Co-op on October 26th. Jonah’s presentation examined the ways in which cooperatives have benefited farmers, food producers, and eaters through worker, consumer, and producer cooperatives. Jonah compared this to the corporate-controlled food system that continues to consolidate ownership into fewer and fewer hands, particularly evidenced this fall with Amazon’s buyout of Whole Foods.

Within the context of discussing the corporate consolidation of our food system, the presentation looked at the benefits of cooperatives, the power they have to bring people together to increase food, market, and land access; and how they support our local economy.

Jonah spreads his arms wide and talks while addressing a group of people in a colorful room at the food co-op.
Jonah presenting at the Portland Food Co-op

The Portland Food Co-op was originally started in 2006 when a natural food store, the Whole Grocer, was bought out by Whole Foods before they opened their Portland store. Community members, including Fertig-Burd, came together then to organize a co-op to meet the need of having a locally-owned store that provides local and organic foods. Now, 11 years later, the Portland Food Co-op is highly successful with over 4,000 members, a growing staff, a large selection of local products, and a visible popular storefront in downtown Portland.

CDI continues to provide education and presentations to a wide range of different groups including presenting at co-ops, economic development meetings, schools, colleges, and in other communities. If you are interested in having CDI present about cooperatives in your community, please get in touch!

The Power of Cooperatives in an Ever-Changing Food Economy