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Benalla Food Co-op

By Christine Holmes, Benalla Food Co-op Coordinator

It is hard to believe that the Benalla Food Co-op has been operating for exactly three years. During this period of time, membership has steadily increased and we currently have 63 members who have a strong commitment towards more sustainable food purchases. We now have 76 products in stock.

A number of products such as honey, walnuts and olive oil are sourced from local suppliers and we are keen to obtain more of these products as long as they fit within our Food Class Registration with Benalla Rural City.

It is interesting to note why people have chosen to become members of the food co-op, especially given the convenience of shopping at the large supermarkets. Late last year I asked members to give their reasons for joining the food co-op and the responses were:

  • ‘less food packaging, a reduction in food miles’,
  • superior quality of product, cheaper price in comparison to supermarket products,
  •  knowing where the product comes from,
  • ability to see the product,
  • to source organic products,
  • an independent group running it,
  • reduction in garbage,
  • a friendly atmosphere,
  • shopping where you can get to know people and enjoy the company of like minded people
  • the ability to communicate with the suppliers.’

So you can see there are many good reasons for joining a food co-op.

Other products we now stock are certified Fairtrade tea and coffee. The following information is taken from the Tradewinds website www.tradewinds.org.au: Fairtrade certification provides external checks that growers and producers are receiving a fair deal by setting a fairer price for their produce, stipulating an additional payment to be invested in social, economic and environmental development in the grower communities, protecting producers from world market price fluctuations and prohibiting the use of forced or abusive child labour.

Many of the Tradewind teas and coffees are also Certified Organic. Most are grown without the use of chemical fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides. Coffee growers use their traditional farming practices and grow small numbers of coffee bushes in their home gardens.  

Late last year we had a general meeting for the food co-op members whereby an official committee was elected.  The Benalla Food Coop continues to go from strength to strength. If interested please contact me on 0438624866 or chrispeth@bigpond.com.