It’s no secret that I love food and love to cook.
The real secret lies in how much my family eats. We have a running joke in our family that anyone who invites us over for a meal is in for a rude shock. Truth to be told – we eat a lot. Food makes up our most significant family household bill.
To be fair, we eat most of our main meals at home and enjoy a freshly cooked meal at every one of those meals (yes, including breakfast). Over the past few years, we have shifted our entire family’s diet so that plants make up the majority of our plate. So, between 4 people for at least 20 home cooked meals each week, that means we need a huge amount of fresh produce.
As my kids grew older their appetites increased. Variety is important to us because we really enjoy having a different menu daily. So put together the pieces of wanting to feed a family fresh home cooked meals, with high quality produce, in great variety, I quickly realised I needed to find a more economical way to feed us.
I first joined a food co-op about a decade ago. My first co-op had a local pick up point, there were other local families involved and it offered some flexibility around the weekly produce that was offered. The lady that was running the co-op at the time ended up taking an extended travelling stint in Europe with her family, leaving her position vacant.
I was quite the food enthusiast already, and it was the perfect weekly job to do even with young children by my side. It only required a few hours each week to pack our co-op’s boxes. A lovely way to connect to the local community, it allowed me to form a social network I may not have otherwise had being so busy with the kids.
My kids are a little bit older now and I have grown that original co-op from 10 families to 50 families. I also run another co-op on a different day with another 50 families. It is a humbling thought that I am helping to bring fresh produce to 100 local homes every single week. The relationships within the co-ops that I run have matured and evolved and it has created a lovely community of like-minded people. Running a food co-op is a little bit vintage and old fashioned and so are we. We love talking about cooking, pickling, preserving, jamming, air-frying, roasting, stir-frying you name it. We are food geeks and aren’t afraid to show it.
Why you should begin your own Food Co-op story
Joining a food co-op means that the connection between farm and table is much shorter. Consequently, the produce is so much fresher and more affordable. We almost feel like we know our farmers because we often hear updates on what they are growing, what is working and what is not. We are also satisfied in knowing that we are paying them fairly – i.e. they earn more than what they would from the larger supermarket chains.
I highly encourage you to seek out a co-op in your local area. If you have more mouths or bigger tummies to feed- my encouragement to you is even more. There is absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. You’ll become part of a wonderful community, your pocket will thank you for it, and you’ll be supporting your local economy.
May the food you prepare bring you joy!