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Sen. Tim Mathern, Published February 05 2014

Letter: Prairie Roots Food Co-op will emphasize local foods

We congratulate the editorial board at The Forum for recognizing and highlighting two important consumer trends. Consumers want to know what’s in the food they eat. Consumers want to know where the food comes from.

Already through its online market, the Prairie Roots Food Cooperative is enabling members to access locally raised food and speak directly to food producers about how that food was grown and/or processed. Once membership goals are met and a bricks-and-mortar grocery store is opened within the F-M community, members and nonmembers alike will be able to access foods that meet their demands for wholesomeness and transparency.

Nationwide, food cooperatives are experiencing rapid growth. Minnesota now has the nation’s largest concentration of food co-ops, with the Twin Cities hosting many of these grocery stores. Besides satisfying their concerns about food safety and sourcing, co-ops meet people’s needs for affordability and flexibility. A case in point is the bulk food section that most food co-ops feature. Shoppers can buy as much or as little of the bulk products as they wish, thereby matching their needs to their food budgets.

Food co-ops offer a broad array of additional benefits. For example, because the co-op is local owned, the money generated will recirculate in the community – creating what economists call a multiplier effect. By comparison, the income generated by big-box stores and national chains leave the community. In addition, many food co-ops offer educational classes to ensure that community members will be better equipped to prepare and preserve local foods grown in season. And finally, cooperatives are essentially team-building entities creating synergies at every stage of interaction with other co-ops, businesses and groups.

We encourage anyone who isn’t already a member to join Prairie Roots Food Cooperative today at www.prairie-roots.coop.

Mathern is a state senator representing Fargo District 11. Also signing this letter: Gretchen Harvey (college professor), Jenn Faul (hospital manager), Noreen Thomas (farmer) and Miguel Danielson (attorney) – Volunteer Board members, Prairie Roots Food Cooperative, Fargo.