2020: A vision for the future through Co-ops and local food

As the 2010s come to a close, the “20/20” eyesight analogy couldn’t be more appropriate for the new decade. With our eye on the future, there’s clearly a sense of urgency and awareness of the unique times we’re living in: a changing climate, increases in costs of living, and the shared pressures of a globalized world. 

We face a decision in the coming decade where we prioritize convenience and cost, or community and climate. It’s my hope as General Manager that shopping at the Co-op provides you community through our classrooms and events, as a place to meet and eat with friends, and convivial customer service; and offers hope for our climate, through our local buying practices, and our sustainability and zero waste initiatives. But I also don’t want you to compromise on convenience and cost, because it seems clear that healthy local food and a healthy local economy are intertwined.

Put another way, it’s the way the Co-op has always been run: people, principles, and the planet before profit. And it’s by sticking to this maxim that the cooperative model will continue to thrive in the ‘20s. Shopping at the Co-op is sort of a way to ‘vote with your dollar’ and know that it’s being maximized in our community. Here are a few ways that’s happening:

The planet: We continue to be the most sustainable grocer in Southern Oregon and we’re on pace with our 2030 zero waste goal - now just ten years away. The Co-op’s sustainability coordinator and strategic energy management intern have been working on further reducing energy waste, from simple things like lowering the blinds at night to prevent heat loss, to storewide impacts like lowering the temperature of our water heaters. 

And in 2020, the Co-op joins four other Ashland restaurants for the Rogue To Go reusable take-out container program, set to reduce the amount of take-out waste - a big move for the busiest restaurant in Ashland (yep, the Co-op!). 

One of the biggest greenhouse gas contributors is the factory farming industry, which is why we go to great lengths - but not distances - to get local, grass-fed meats from sustainable producers like Magnolia Farms and Emerald Hills Farms, and to source other meats from responsible and sustainable sources, like Beeler’s Heluka and SmartChicken. Meanwhile we continue to expand our vegan offerings in store and in our kitchen.

Principles: With over $29,000 in grants to non-profits last year, and another $2,450 in donated gift cards, your shopping trips at the Co-op are - in no small part! - helping out the organizations doing important front-line work on food and education in the Valley. Read more about 2019 grant recipients here.

People: We understand that one of the Rogue Valley’s biggest issues is cost of living. To that end, over 70% of our employees earn a living wage and 96% have access to affordable health care. When you shop at the Co-op, you’re supporting over 160 employees and their families who contribute to our community and the local economy. There are a lot fewer than six degrees of separation here in the Rogue Valley - if you don’t already know a Co-op employee, one of your friends probably does!

I’m excited for the sustainable, responsible path that we are on in order to face the challenges of the coming decade. Thank you for being a part of our community and for supporting our efforts to advance it.

In co-operation,
Emile Amarotico 
General Manager


More Co-op News

Coronavirus Preparedness at the Co-op

The Ashland Food Co-op acknowledges and shares our community’s concerns about protecting against the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The safety and health of staff and customers is a top priority for the Co-op. We are taking proactive steps throughout our store to maintain a clean atmosphere to work and shop.

March 30 update

Since March 1, staff are receiving a 'hero' differential pay as an acknowledgment of their essential service to the community.

Ashland Food Co-op employees are heroes, worthy of respect and gratitude

Until a crisis like this occurs, few think of Grocers as essential service providers. However, our employees have been here day in and day out, risking their health and the safety of their loved ones, to provide food for our community. This is not a job that can be done from home or from what is now considered a safe social distance. Our employees have worked with the utmost professionalism, care, and concern for shopper well-being.

5 Things You Didn't Know the Co-op Carries for Cold, Flu & Immune Protection

  1. Wishgarden Herbs - Kick Ass Immune: Your total frontline immune defense!
  2. Oshala Farm - Oshala Fire Cider: Locally made in the Applegate. It tastes so good you could craft a healthy dressing with this fire cider!
  3. Mickelberry Gardens - Elderberry: Great Immune support for kids and adults. Made in Oregon.

Choose To Reuse

by Rianna Koppel, Co-op Sustainability Coordinator

At the Ashland Food Co-op, we are committed to becoming Zero Waste by 2030. Along the way, we’ve learned a lot about packaging and single-use at our store. Our owners care deeply about reducing plastic waste, and we do too! 

Reusable Bags 

At the co-op, we have many different bag options… So what's the best choice?

Lisa Beam: Why I'm a Board Member

Why serve on the Board of Directors at the Ashland Food Coop? This was the question that I was faced with about a year ago.

I have lived, worked and shopped in Ashland for the last 20 years. Many of those years I have actively participated on non-profit boards, civic organizations and committees. However, in the last few years I stepped away from those responsibilities to focus on family and business life.

Henry in the Garden: The Pollinator Plan

By Henry Herting, Co-op garden volunteer

It's that fun time of the year when we get to plan our gardens. This year since our pollinators are taking such a hard hit, we are planning a pollinator garden.

Some plants that are considered good for pollinators are not so good fo the gardeners. They are invasive; they are weeds. Nobody likes weeds in their garden - who likes getting down on their knee pads and clawing at deep-rooted weeds growing in places where you don't want them?

Rogue To Go at the Co-op

We are excited to announce the official launch of Rogue To Go at the Ashland Food Co-op!

Rogue To Go is a reusable container pilot program. The pilot connects five participating restaurants by offering a reusable container that can be used for meals to-go and help eliminate single-use boxes. These O2GO containers are made locally in Bend, Oregon by OZZI. The bright green containers are 100% recyclable through a specialty recycler - truly zero waste!

How can you start using Rogue To Go? Check out the steps below and follow along with a walk-through video.

Apply for an AFC Gives community grant

For over 25 years, the Ashland Food Co-op has been re-investing in the local community by awarding grants to non-profit organizations doing important work in the Rogue Valley. Putting the seventh cooperative principle, "concern for community," into action, over $30,000 was donated in 2019 - and in 2020, there are even more opportunities for non-profits.

Click here to apply for a 2020 community grant.

The Co-op is getting a refresh

We are giving our store a much-needed fresh coat of paint. We think you'll enjoy the changes!


The painting team will begin our project on February 5th, 2020 with a start time of 9pm.


The entire retail store, deli serving area and interior seating area will receive a fresh new coat of paint.


If all goes as planned, our painting project should be finished by February 20.

Will Store Hours Change?

No. We will be painting from 9pm to 5am.

Explore citrus!

Looking to explore some new citrus varieties? Know more before you go! Check out the many types of sweet, sour and somewhere in between that you can enjoy at the Co-op! (Availability may vary due to seasonality.)

Explore citrus varietiesMore citrus varieties


Taste for Life winter wellness giveaway

It's a month of giveaways from Taste for Life!

Giveaway #1 has finished up - so it's time for #2! This giveaway runs 1/27-2/2, so sign up below.

This package includes: NOW's Sabucus Zinc-C lozenges, Mushroom Wisdom's SX-Fraction, Bluebonnet's Stress Release formula, ChildLife's First Defense immune formula, Vitafusion's Organic Women's Multi vitamin, Quantum Health's Eye Health supplement, Kyo-Green Sprouts Blend digestion supplement, Solgar's full spectrum Curcumin supplement, and Solgar's No. 7 joint comfort supplement. 

Rogue Co-ops College Scholarship

As part of the Rogue Co-ops, a group of Rogue Valley cooperative businesses that includes Ashland Food Co-op, Grange Co-op, Medford Food Co-op, and Rogue Credit Union, we're excited to offer a scholarship opportunity to local high school students planning on attending college.

The Rogue Co-ops have collectively funded a $2,000 scholarship (and Grange Co-op offers an additional eight $1,500 scholarships) for students (in public, private or home school settings) who meet the following requirements:

Become an Owner-Volunteer with the AFC Board

The AFC Board of Directors is looking for owner-volunteers for three board committees: the Owner Engagement Committee (OEC), Board Development Committee (BDC), and AFC Gives Committee.