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

May Day Community Block Party

Photography by Chelsea Whitney Art

On May 1st, several Southern Oregon businesses came together for a block party to provide a space to gather as a community after a rough spell due to the pandemic and fires. The May Day Block Party was hosted on Main St in Phoenix, where the scent of food trucks mingled with artisan goods such as local cheeses, locally farmed flowers, and even fresh-baked pastries.

May Change for Good Recipient: Rogue Valley Farm to School

May's Change for Good Recipient is

Rogue Valley Farm to School

Rogue Valley Farm to School educates children about our food system through hands-on farm and garden programs, and by increasing local foods in school meals.

"We inspire an appreciation of local agriculture that improves the economy and environment of our community and the health of its members." 

A Visit with Rolling Hills

Visit Rolling Hills Farm and learn more about owner Dave Belzberg, who the Ashland Food Co-op is so honored to partner with for more than thirty five years.

A Visit with Magnolia Farms




Visit Magnolia Farms and learn more about owner Elissa Thau, who the Ashland Food Co-op is so honored to partner with for more than twenty years.

A Visit with Emerald Hills

Visit the Emerald Hills Ranch and learn more about this fourth generation ranching family that the Ashland Food Co-op is so proud to partner with for more than twenty years.

A Conversation with Katie Falkenberg, Photographer and Filmmaker

Katie Falkenberg's photography and filmmaking has taken her all over the world, and lucky for us - she's been calling the Rogue Valley home for a couple years now. Exquisitely and harmoniously capturing the world around her, she is documenting not only through the lens but also through her peaceful and loving spirit. Katie reached out to us in hopes of collaborating after falling in love with the co-op soon after moving here.

January Change for Good Recipient: Rogue Valley Mentoring

Since 2005, Rogue Valley Mentoring (formerly the Rose Circle Mentoring Network) has trained over 500 adults who have mentored over 2,000 youth in our valley; letting young people know that they are not alone. A caring and compassionate ear shows them that they matter, and they they are experts of their own experience.

Rogue Valley Mentoring Circle

Coronavirus Preparedness at the Co-op

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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.

Shopping Safely & Efficiently


As coronavirus cases increase in Jackson County, the Co-op is taking extra precautions to protect shoppers and employees. 

To ensure social distancing in the store, the number of persons allowed in the store at once has been reduced to 50% capacity. Understandably, this may lead to a short wait outside of the store, but please be assured the line moves quickly.

In order to keep the wait as short as possible, here are a few steps you can take to help out:

10 Ways to Shine Your Light in Dark Times

By Allan Weisbard L.C.S.W.


Since 1963, autumn has been a difficult time for me. Two months shy of my 13th birthday I lost my younger brother to cancer, then shortly afterwards, President Kennedy was assassinated.

Masks Required for All In-Store Shoppers

To protect the health of Co-op staff and shoppers, all shoppers and other visitors on Ashland Food Co-op property must wear face coverings over mouth and nose except when dining in an approved area. As of November 11, 2020, face shields will not be permitted unless worn with a mask.