Deconstructing Dinner: Co-operatives - Alternatives to Industrial Food I


29 Mar 2007 |
View all related to cooperatives | Deconstructing Dinner | Food | Local Food

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V

Listen to a few broadcasts of Deconstructing Dinner, and choosing food maysuddenly become an intimidating adventure. It is of the utmost importancethat we also bring our listeners examples of alternatives to the industrialfood system that is spiralling out of the control of people.

Enter the co-operative model of operating a business. Long an example of howpeople can assume control over our needs and resources, co-operatives as analternative to the industrial food system will be the focus of this series.This is an exciting series, as we ourselves at Kootenay Co-op Radio are aco-operative too.

How does a co-operative differ from a traditional business? Mostimportantly, a co-operative is owned and democratically controlled by thepeople who use the services or by those working within the co-op. A co-op isoperated for the benefit of members and members have a say in decisionsaffecting the co-op. In the case of food, such a premise directly challengesmany of the pressing issues Deconstructing Dinner explores on a weeklybasis.

On this Part I of the series, we look at how co-operatives can provide analternative to the retail and distribution sector of the food system. Theprovince of British Columbia in Canada has some of the most innovativecooperatives in the country, and the two co-operatives featured on today'sbroadcast are both located within the province: the Kootenay Country StoreCo-operative in Nelson, and FoodRoots, a newly established distributorsco-operative in Victoria.

Deconstructing Dinner is designed to educate listeners on the impacts our food choices have on ourselves, our communities and the planet. The show, hosted by Jon Steinman, is produced at Kootenay Co-op Radio (CJLY) in Nelson, British Columbia, Canada.


Abra Brynne, Board President - Kootenay Country Store Co-operative (Nelson,BC) - The Kootenay Co-op is a large, member-owned cooperative offeringnatural, organic foods and products in Nelson. Since its inception in 1975,the Co-op has taken a leading role in promoting natural, organic foods andproducts, sustainable living and supporting local, organic farms andbusinesses and fair trade organizations. With over 7,000 members, the storeis a leading example in Canada of an alternative to the conventional modelof food retailing. Abra has been a member of the store since 1991, was astaff member until 2000, and is now the President of the Board. Abra washeard on the inaugural broadcast of Deconstructing Dinner in January 2006. Apresentation she gave at a November 2006 community food forum has also beenarchived on our web site.

Jocelyn Carver, Human Resources Director - Kootenay Country StoreCo-operative (Nelson, BC) - In March 2007, Jocelyn helped organize anevent/meeting for the 55 staff members of the Kootenay Country StoreCo-operative. The meeting explored food sovereignty and food security, andinvited local farmers and suppliers to come and speak to the staff. Such ameeting would be unheard of within the conventional retail system, andJocelyn was invited onto the show to share this experience.

Staff of the Kootenay Country Store Co-operative - Joy Farley, Anneke Rosch,Niels Petersen, Allana McConachy and Ben Morris

Lee Fuge and Susan Tychie, Co-Founders - FoodRoots (Victoria, BC) -Incorporated in October 2006 as a co-operative, FoodRoots has been formed topromote a local sustainable food system by creating the infrastructure linkbetween the eaters/consumers and the growers and processors in the Victoriaregion. They promote sustainable food grown naturally as close to home aspossible, and place a priority on Certified Organic. FoodRoots works hard toeducate eaters/consumers about local agriculture and food security issues,and the co-operative challenges the conventional distribution systemscontrolling Canada's food system.

Additional audio at

AudioDeconstructing Dinner: Co-operatives - Alternatives to Industrial Food I (audio) (length 58 min): download, stream