When we moved here a couple years ago, I was quite pleased to realise that there’s not a lot in the way of big supermarkets about. Instead our local convenience shop is a medium sized East of England coop. I also like the fact that they carry local food, clearly labelled – our mushrooms travel all of two miles up the road, and it means I can choose local and in season easily. Makes my drive towards mindful consumerism just that little bit easier. I assume they have some relationship with the cooperative group overall, as they stock many of the fairtrade cooperative lines I was familiar with from shopping at coops in Yorkshire.
The roots of the cooperative movement go back a long way in northern areas. All the way to 1844, when the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers was founded. They were the prototype that is now used by modern cooperative societies, in which members get a dividend back from their spending, and form a part of the governance if they wish to. As well as the Cooperative group of food shops, you can now find pharmacies, opticians, electrical stores, and can be assured that your money is going to an organisation with high ethical values, and that some of your money will be fed back into the community, here and overseas.
Perhaps it will go to support the formation of cooperatives in Kenya – allowing small tea growers to band together, and achieve Fairtrade status, meaning that you can then buy the Coops Fairtrade tea in good conscience.
I keep returning to the ideas I’d like to be involved with locally. I’ve got an allotment now – there’s a share table there, for gluts of crops. I do wonder if there’s a way to improve on that process – perhaps the allotment society could form a cooperative to sell excess foods on a market type stall? Maybe I should bite the bullet and get involved with the allotment society first though! Whatever I do, you can be assured that I’ll be continuing to be as ethical and mindful as I can be – will you? Oh go on, join the revolution