Middlebury Food Co-op Details Purchasing Guidelines

I read with interest the press release from Healthy Living on its new Product Ingredient Standards. While we at Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op applaud Healthy Living’s move towards more stringent purchasing guidelines, we are a little concerned that the impression was made that Healthy Living is the first store to do this in VT and to date, the ‘Healthiest Grocery Store in the Northeast’. Our Co-op, as well as many of our sister Co-ops in VT, has strict buying criteria, including all of the restrictions that Healthy Living has lately adopted, plus a strong emphasis on Local and Organic products. Here is our current list of criteria:

MNFC strives to select food that is local, organic, and free of:

· Added Preservatives, Colors, & Flavors

· Added Hormones & Antibiotics

· Transfats

· High Fructose Corn Syrup

· Parabens

· Animal Testing

· Irradiated Ingredients

One of the biggest differences between our Buying Criteria and theirs is that we’ve had a set of guidelines since 1976 (with amendments over time, as research into food substances has become available).

For most Food Co-ops, especially in VT, getting choosy about what we put on our shelves and into our bodies has always been a huge part of our purpose, not just a trend to help vault us forward in the face of competition (hey, we were doing this Buying Criteria thing way before it was popular!). Over the years, we’ve made hard decisions to eschew popular brands and sometimes lower wholesale prices in order to favor Local and Organic products, produced with stricter standards. This is a price we’ve happily paid for over 40 years, from our start in the living rooms of a few buying club members, to our current status as a successful community-owned business, providing 100 jobs to local people and boasting over $4,000,000 in sales of VT products alone last year – all of which met our strict Buying Criteria.

There are a lot of reasons to adopt buying criteria, and ours are driven by the reasons why our Co-op exists:

• To provide Healthy Food

• To promote a Vibrant Local Economy

• To promote Environmentally Sustainable and Energy Efficient Practices

• To promote Cooperative Democratic Ownership

• To help our community Learn About These Values

Our buying criteria help us support our triple bottom line. Because we are owned by the community we serve, the community helps us make tough decisions about what we buy, and from whom we buy it. We thank our members for keeping us honest and holding us to a standard we can all be proud of.

I really appreciate your news organization’s motto: “news in pursuit of truth”. It is in the spirit of this conviction that I am reaching out about this topic, and I welcome your further thoughts. You can find out more about our Buying Criteria right here:

https://middlebury.coop/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Buying-Criteria-Handout-Combined-1.pd

VT Digger October 28, 2018

Karin Mott
Marketing, Education and Membership Manager
Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op
[email protected]

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