If you’re looking for good, clean, wholesome food and you love the idea of supporting local producers, then the next time you head to the grocery store make a stop at the Muskoka North Good Food Co-op.
You’ll find them at 1 Crescent Road in Huntsville, and it really is worth the visit. They’ve been working on their space for some time and thanks to senior government funding and thousands of volunteer hours, the transformation has been remarkable.
The Co-op held its official inauguration on Tuesday, October 23 where guests were treated to some local culinary delights. Their space is warm and inviting and their products are locally sourced wherever possible. From fresh produce, meats, eggs and dairy products to baked goods, coffee and cereals, you’ll find everything you need to make a fantastic meal. If you’re a little shy about your culinary prowess, no worries: They’re also working on a community kitchen, where you’ll learn everything from preparing your own meals to canning your own food.
“We’re really trying to help to kind of boost food literacy in the way that people can become more self-reliant and resilient in harvesting that great food at its peak potential—canning it, drying it— doing whatever they do so they can eat it through the year,” said Co-op founder Kelli Ebbs.
The motto of these entrepreneurial visionaries is simple: Create a local food economy for consumers and food producers in the area, which will not only spur more local production but also encourage other food producers to move to the area.
“A co-op is food democracy in action,” said Ebbs. “It is people actually standing up on their two feet and saying this is what we want in our food system. This is what we want to eat. This is what we want to support. These are the worker values we want to support. This is where I want my well-earned money to be spent and reinvested—because all of our generated revenue goes back into our business and back into the community. So it’s really like a huge moral compass and we are seriously voting with our dollars when we’re shopping at a food co-op.”
Asked about the price of food, Ebbs said if you were to purchase similar products elsewhere, you’d probably find that the prices at the Co-op are pretty reasonable. But, she said, you should compare apples to apples. She said you can’t compare a locally grown organic apple to one grown overseas, where you don’t always know what chemicals have been used to produce it.
Muskoka North Good Food Co-op operates as a not-for-profit organization and is member-owned. “The people who own it are owners because they want to take ownership of the food system that they live within and they recognize that if you take ownership of your food system, you will secure your food system,” she said.
“Our priority is to provide the easiest access to the cleanest food we can to everyone. So believe it or not, the more turns we make in our grocery market, the more people that walk through the door and support the market, the less expensive our food will become,” she said.
There are currently about six paid positions at the Co-op market and Ebbs is hoping that will increase. “We have an amazing, exceptionally skilled staff. We pay above fair living wages, we always have from the start and we strive to even do better than that.”
Ebbs and Co-op Board of Directors Chair Kelly Picken thanked the many volunteers, members and friends of the Co-op for helping make the vision a reality. They also thanked the building owner, Mike Harrower, for believing in the Co-op. There was a sense of jubilation among those who attended the event. You can find out more about the Co-op here.
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