As we lead up to the Change Food Fest, we will be highlighting individuals and organizations hosting Viewing Parties. Viewing Parties have the opportunity to engage with the Change Food Fest by livestreaming our speakers from anywhere in the world. This month, we had the opportunity to get to know Bluff Country Co-op in Winona, Minnesota. Stay tuned to hear more from our Viewing Party hosts each month!
CF: Tell us about your organization. What is your mission? Where are you located?
BCC: We are a food co-op located in Winona, Minnesota, which is a Mississippi River valley town in southeastern Minnesota. As a co-op, we are guided by the seven cooperative principles, and our ends statements reflect this.
Bluff Country Co-op exists so that…
…our community has access to sustainable organic local products and services.
… our community is knowledgeable about food from farm to table and how our food choices affect health, economy, and the environment.
… our community has a vibrant local economy.
… the cooperative model is promoted and supported.
… we may promote and engage in fair and equitable economic relationships with our suppliers, employees, member-owners, and shoppers.
… our member-owners feel a sense of community, connection, and fellowship.
CF: What specific projects are you working on?
BCC: Because we partner with so many different organizations within the community (for example, The Women’s Resource Center and Big Brothers Big Sisters), at any given time we are working on multiple projects. The biggest project we are currently working on is our expansion. We recently purchased the building in which we are located, and we plan to expand our store to fill the building, which will nearly double our square footage.
This project will allow us to:
–Support more local farmers, producers, and artisans.
–Promote healthy eating and sustainable agriculture practices.
–Improve our downtown.
–Help consumers keep more of their money in the local economy.
–Create more local jobs.
CF: What is one way we can make the food system more healthy and fair?
BCC: Change the cultural mindset that food should be cheap.
CF: What initiatives within your community are you proud of?
BCC: A new Community Food Network has formed to address issues of food access, healthy eating, hunger, and fair prices for farmers. I am hopeful that something will come out of this.
CF: What upcoming changes are you most excited about? (e.g., community gardens, farmers’ markets, other cool initiatives)
BCC: Our expansion.
CF: What does a healthy food system look like to you?
BCC: Farmers using methods that sustain, rather than destroy, our earth. Consumers paying prices that sustain, rather than bankrupt, our farmers.
Eaters making food choices that sustain, rather than damage, their bodies.
Government subsidizing farms that sustain, rather than impoverish, our communities.
Eating practices that lead to less waste and less hunger.
CF: Why is improving the food system important to you?
BCC: When we improve the food system it has a ripple effect and we improve so many areas of our lives, like our physical and mental health, our land health, and our community health.
CF: What part of the fest inspired you most?
BCC: That it is focusing on solutions currently being enacted.
Change Food aggregates the best of the best already working toward healthy food change, amplifies their voices through our events and programs, and advance their work and the goal of the food movement – to provide healthy, safe, delicious, fair food for ALL. To learn more, visit ChangeFood.org. Follow and support us on Patreon.