We recently checked out the Doylestown Food Co-Op, where we found a whole new way to think about local food…and popcorn (more on that in a minute). The co-op opened its doors earlier this month in a storefront at 29 West State Street, Doylestown, Pa. The official grand opening will take place on February 8. For details, check out http://www.doylestown.coop.org.
So, What Is a Co-Op?
A co-op is a business that’s owned and governed collectively by a group of people who are members. While most co-ops start as food businesses, some have eventually branched out, providing other services of value to the community. Like other co-ops, the Doylestown Food Co-Op offers the opportunity to become a member by purchasing equity shares of the grocery. In exchange, member-owners have a say in decisions about the business, receive discounts on some of their food purchases and enjoy a variety of other benefits.
Co-ops became popular in the 1960s as experiments in alternative living. They challenged the idea that a business had to be owned “privately” and focused almost entirely on profits. Instead, co-ops emphasized collective ownership and management, focusing on the needs of the co-op community. The underlying idea was to “do well by doing good.”
Today’s generation of co-ops may share many of the aspirations of their forerunners. But they’re also motivated by a desire for alternatives to our industrial food system. The Doylestown Food Co-Op grew out of a network of friends who decided to work together to access fresh local food for their families. As interest in their group mushroomed, they realized the time was ripe for a larger endeavor. After much planning and fundraising, the co-op opened a few weeks ago, offering a range of local, organic and otherwise sustainable products to members and non-members alike.
A Few Things to Know About the Doylestown Food Co-Op
The co-op says its mission is “to be a member-owned grocery store that provides convenient access to a variety of locally raised or produced foods and other products and to foster a healthy and economically viable environment for our farmers and our community.”
- You can join the co-op or get involved by dropping by the store or visiting their website, http://www.doylestown.coop.org. A variety of options are available to help make membership dues affordable on any budget.
- You can find a current list of the co-op’s local producer/suppliers at http://www.doylestown.coop/our_producer_community.
- Member benefits include discounts on selected items at the co-op and on products and services from other local (and mostly green) businesses.
- The co-op also hosts a variety of social and educational events. On February 11, at the Doylestown Bookshop, they’ll host a book discussion with Judy Wicks, author of Good Morning Beautiful Business, original owner of Philadelphia’s White Dog Café and “godmother” of the movement for “local living economies.”
- The co-op’s purchase of goods from local farmers and producers, its discount program with local businesses and its community outreach are all great examples of localism — a commitment to strengthen our local economies for everyone’s benefit.
Now, the Popcorn
When we visited the co-op in early January, they were selling fresh popping corn…still on the cob. Not that we’re obsessed with popcorn, but some readers will notice that this is the second post on the subject. The first post suggested cooking organic popcorn on the stove instead of buying the microwaveable kind. With fresh on-the-cob popping corn, there are two ways to go:
1. You can place the cobs in a brown paper bag and microwave them until the corn is popped. (The remnants of our efforts are shown above.)
2. Or, you can scrape the kernels off the cob and cook in a pan with a little canola oil, as described in the earlier post.
Either way, you’ll be able to enjoy popcorn that’s about as fresh and local as it gets.