Sunday, May 3, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Cooperative principles run deep at Davis institution

By
From page A14 | May 06, 2012 |

food coopW

By Desmond Jolly and Luis Sierra

The United Nations has declared 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, highlighting the massive contributions of cooperatives to global socio-economic development. In its declaration, the Assembly noted that cooperatives generate employment, promote social integration and lift people out of poverty.

Locally, the Davis Food Cooperative is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Globally, more than 1 billion people in 100-plus nations are members of cooperatives that generate more than 100 million jobs around the world. In California, more than 10 million residents belong.

Cooperatives are diverse. For example, under the World Council of Credit Unions, 49,000 credit unions serve 177 million members in 96 countries, and under the European Association of Cooperative Banks, 4,200 banks serve 149 million members.

In the United States, 900 cooperatives produce electricity for 37 million households. Cooperatives are found throughout the food chain, from inputs to marketing to consumption. Co-ops increase economies of scale in production and marketing, enabling members to increase their incomes and quality of living.

In Norway, New Zealand and the U.S., co-ops produce 80 to 99 percent of the milk produced. In Korea, co-ops produce 70 percent of the fish and in Brazil, co-ops represent 40 percent of agriculture. In the U.S., agricultural co-ops have nearly 3 million members and do more than $100 billion of business.

Over its first 40 years, the Davis Food Cooperative has grown from an idealistic counter-cultural alternative — a buying club that operated out of a house on the west side of the UC Davis campus — to become a Davis community icon along with the Davis Farmers Market and the UCD Arboretum. Early on, the buying club moved off campus and, after a few years — when it had grown to about 300 members and needed a more suitable space — moved to a 500-square-foot unit on L Street.

Today, the Co-op sells its unique array of organic, sustainable, conventional and locally sourced products in a 25,000-square-foot building that it owns. In turn, the Co-op is owned by its 10,000 members, mostly from the Davis community.

Davis supports the Co-op because the Co-op is deeply embedded in the community; it sponsors a diversity of education, outreach and service efforts. It is involved in “One Farm at a Time,” an effort to save family farming for future generations. Its cash and in-kind contributions to dozens of community organizations are substantial — more than $72,000 last year. Because of its deep roots in the community, the Co-op has been able to withstand each new wave of competition in the grocery business.

In her 2002 Small Farm News article, Ann Evans, one of the founders of the Co-op, quotes one Page Webb as to her motivations for patronizing the Co-op: “There’s more to the co-op than just food, the environmental aspect and sense of community and ownership. Everything is interconnected for me.

“I have a say in what products are available there. I can bring my own bags, buy fair-traded coffee and buy locally grown organic produce or not. I can do as much or as little as works for me. The co-op offers me a variety of choices.”

It is this same set of motivations that is driving a renaissance of interest in cooperatives in California. Placerville’s Natural Foods Cooperative started up in 2011 when 500 people got together, raised capital and bought out Noah’s Ark.

Lake County’s Community Cooperative began as a small group of citizens with a vision to develop a local food system that would include community gardens, farmers markets and local food distribution. They started with an online buying club for organic foods — not easily accessible in Lake County. The group sourced products from local producers in Lake and Yolo counties, as well as from wholesalers.

Other cooperatives are developing in rural Sonoma County, in Vallejo, Riverside, Reno, San Clemente and Altadena. And following Cooperative Principles, more established co-ops are assisting new startups.

When Reno’s Great basin Co-op ran into financial difficulty, Quincy Natural Foods Co-op helped it review its pricing policies. Now the Co-op is five times as large.

Likewise, Davis Food Co-op and Briar Patch Food Co-op provided training to Placerville’s startup. And Ocean Beach Co-op recently shared its information technology expert with Point Arena Market, a small startup.

So while big-box stores and large chains of organic and convenience stores have grown, the alternative food system — locally owned and democratically governed — continues to take root and thrive in our food system.

This is indeed the year of the Co-op. Happy Birthday, Davis Food Co-op!

— Desmond Jolly, an agricultural economist, is a member of the board of directors of the Davis Food Co-op; director emeritus of the University of California’s Statewide Small Farm Program; and a former vice chair of the USDA National Commission on Small Farms. Luis Sierra is assistant director of the California Center for Cooperative Development.

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Breaking barriers: For Prieto, it’s all about hard work

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Council to hear about drought pricing

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

    Nigeria: Nearly 300 freed women, children led to safety

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    For the record

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Peaceful Baltimore demonstrators praise top prosecutor

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Graveyard thefts land three Woodlanders behind bars

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3

    Downtown altercation leads to injuries

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

     
    Woman arrested for brandishing knife on overpass

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

    Yolo DA launches monthly newsletter

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    A Scottish setting for local author’s next book

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Can plants talk? UCD prof will answer that question

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Free beginner yoga class offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Video discusses surveillance of prostate cancer

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    NAMI support group meets May 10

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Dr. G featured on the radio

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Fee proposed on rail cars that haul oil, other flammables

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Indoor Fun Fly comes to Woodland

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
     
    Internships move UCD doctoral students beyond academia

    By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Make Mom a warm vanilla sugar scrub

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    The secret to Mother’s Day gifting success: Give time, not stuff

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Letter book is series of collected missives thanking Mom

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    If your mom fancies something fancy, consider a tea party

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    Out of Africa and back to Davis: James Carey will give special presentation

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Big Day of Giving makes philanthropy easy

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    Tuleyome hosts Snow Mountain camping trip

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    Tuleyome Tales: How are a snake and a mushroom alike?

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12 | Gallery

    .

    Forum

    Advancing education for California’s former foster youths

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

     
    With sincere gratitude

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    A wonderful day of service

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    Please help Baltimore

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    End of life doesn’t mean life must end

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4 | Gallery

     
    Eyewitness to the ‘fall’ of Vietnam: It was not a bloodbath

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5 | Gallery

     
    Dangers from prescription pills

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

     
    .

    Sports

    UCD softball splits with Titans

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Trifecta of Devil teams open playoffs Tuesday

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Defending champ DHS clinches a baseball playoff berth

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Making memories at Aggie Stadium

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: DHS boys win to reach lacrosse playoffs

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    UCD roundup: Aggie women speed past Hornets

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12 | Gallery

     
    Pro baseball roundup: Hudson pitches Giants past Angels

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    Arcadia partners on soybean trait to improve yield

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Marrone opens new greenhouse

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    New firm helps students on path to college

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A8

    Yolo County real estate sales

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, May 3, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B8