Co-operatives: Alternatives to Industrial Food III

cooperativesindexPart III – The Heritage Foodservice Co-operative

Listen to a few broadcasts of Deconstructing Dinner, and choosing food may suddenly become an intimidating adventure. It is of the utmost importance that we also bring our listeners examples of alternatives to the industrial food system that is spiraling out of the control of Canadians.

Enter the co-operative model of operating a business. Long an example in Canada of how people can assume control over our needs and resources, co-operatives as an alternative to the industrial food system will be the focus of this series. This is an exciting series, as we ourselves at Kootenay Co-op Radio are a co-operative too.

How does a co-operative differ from a traditional business? Most importantly, a co-operative is owned and democratically controlled by the people who use the services or by those working within the co-op. A co-op is operated for the benefit of members and members have a say in decisions affecting the co-op. In the case of food, such a premise directly challenges many of the pressing issues Deconstructing Dinner explores on a weekly basis.

On this Part III of the series, we look at the Islands Good Food Initiative and the Heritage Foodservice Co-operative. The co-operative is looking to reclaim greater control over the regional food system on Vancouver Island. Once producing 85% of the food consumed on the Island, Vancouver Island now only produces less than 10% of the food consumed! The Island represents an important window into the future of food security in North American communities.

This new co-operative will challenge the common supply chain model whereby farmers most often receive the short end of the stick, and replace it with what is known as a value chain. Within a value chain, every link is ensured a fair price of that final food dollar. The Heritage Foodservice Co-operative will look to connect farmers with labour, with processing and packing facilities, with transportation/distribution and with institutional food purchasers (restaurants, colleges, public facilities, etc.). Is this a model for other Canadian communities to adopt?


Sandra Mark and Frank MorelandEdible Strategies Enterprises (Fanny Bay, BC) – A small consulting group working with partners to develop approaches to relocalize the food system. They offer a variety of services to enterprising non-profit organizations and co-operatives. Edible Strategies has been integral in the creation of the business plan for the Heritage Foodservice Co-operative.

Karin LenggerGeneral Manager – Vancouver IslandSPUD (Small Potatoes Urban Delivery) (Victoria, BC) – In business since 1998, SPUD is Canada’s largest organic grocery home delivery service. The business serves over 6000 customers in the Lower Mainland, Greater Victoria, Vancouver Island, Calgary and Seattle. SPUD is committed to protecting the environment by buying local, organic, minimally packaged, and eco-friendly products.

Bill CodePresidentIsland Farmers Alliance (Duncan, BC) – The IFA is an alliance of farmers on Vancouver Island and surrounding islands who work to ensure the sustainability and growth of Island agriculture by promoting local foods and farmers.

Graham MorryExecutive DirectorNanaimo Association for Community Living (NACL) (Nanaimo, BC) – NACL supports and advocates for citizens with developmental disabilities and the people that care for them by promoting inclusion through various residential and community opportunities, activities, and services. They currently operate seven residences and a day program in the Nanaimo area. They also provide respite care and community respite by referral.

Marjorie StewartChairNanaimo Foodshare (Nanaimo, BC) – Whether they’re developing small-scale businesses, teaching a canning workshop, or distributing locally grown produce through the Good Food Box program, Foodshare helps people develop the skills they need to increase food security, build community, and be self-sufficient. Through programs, workshops, and community networks, their aim is to educate and empower by sharing not just food — but also information, resources, workloads, and new opportunities.

James StreetPresidentNorth Vancouver Island Chefs Association (Courtenay, BC) – Founded in 1979 to represent chefs and cooks from Bowser to the northern tip of Vancouver Island, the Associaiton is a branch of the Canadian Culinary Federation. Their goals are to promote culinary excellence, aid the growth and development of the industry, and provide a network for membership.

Musical Selection (name/title/album/label)
Theme/Soundclip – Adham Shaikh, Infusion, Fusion, Sonic Turtle (CDN)