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

Explore citrus!

Whether you're celebrating the weekend's citrus sale, or just exploring 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.)

Citrus sale 20% off - 1/24-1/26!

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. 

Sustainability Update: Building on a Strong Foundation

Sustainability Update

Our team has been working on many different projects throughout the year, taking great steps to fulfill our four sustainability goals. Our four goals to achieve by 2030 are: carbon neutrality, zero waste, eliminating toxic chemicals, and being a leader in our sustainable community. We look forward to our sustainable success in the upcoming decade! 

5 Items to Try: Spreads, Condiments & Snacks

It's fun trying new things! Here are five items you can find at the Co-op with a distinctly international flavor. Whether you're spreading them on some bread or naan, mixing up a salad dressing, or just want something salty and crunchy to snack on, try these out next time you want to elevate your dishes.

10 Ways to Enjoy: Ginger Spread

Sometimes you might come across a product at the Co-op and ask, "That looks good, but how in the heck can I use it in my cooking?" To answer that question, we picked this Ginger Spread made by The Ginger People (famous for their Gin-Gin candies). Grab a jar and try some of these unique applications in your own kitchen - or get inspired to utilize it in another way.

Meet Your Board: Melina Barker

Hello, Co-op members! My name is Melina Barker, and I joined the AFC Board of Directors this July. Since then, I have been busy learning about all the work the previous members have done to craft strategic goals to support the success of the AFC.

Melina Barker


Smart Chicken® Holiday Giving in 2019

During the month of November, Co-op shoppers can nourish their own families and help fight hunger in the Rogue Valley.

Over the years, Smart Chicken® and Ashland Food Co-op have teamed up to donate thousands of pounds of chicken to ACCESS. Smart Chicken® will once again donate Smart Chicken® products based on the total volume that shoppers purchase at Ashland Food Co-op to ACCESS.

Henry in the Garden: Already Preparing for the Spring

The bane of all gardeners is powdery mildew - that white substance that collects both on the tops and bottoms of the leaves of your healthiest vegetable plants. Cucumbers and zucchini seem to be more easily affected by this scourge than many others.

GM Report: Gratitude for a Great 2019 at the Co-op

It’s the season of gratitude and reflection on the year that has passed, and there is so much to be thankful for as a Co-op owner. 

2019 started off with the news that over $13,000 in emergency donations had been raised from Co-op owners and shoppers for support and relief efforts after Paradise, CA was leveled by a wildfire. This outpouring of our support was critical in the months after the fire, after the news trucks had left and the work of rebuilding began. I know how grateful we all are for the much calmer smoke season that our region experienced this summer. 

Rounding Up in October

Part of what makes co-ops unique are the guiding 7 Principles of Cooperation. One of the seven that is felt strongly in Ashland is "Concern for the community" - and that's why the Co-op is offering a new way to give back to our community for the month of October. When you pay at the register, you can round up your total to the nearest dollar. For example, $11.68 becomes $12, and $0.32 is donated.

Donations in October will go to the Ashland Food Co-op Community Fund, which funds the Community Grant program (over $29,000 was provided last year to local non-profits).

Fall Staff Picks

Thanks to alpine trails and shaded valley creeks, outdoor recreation is year-round in the Rogue Valley. But fall usually makes for more frisky feet, so we asked Co-op employees for their favorite fall activities and recommendations for what they grab before they head out. 


Applegate products joining Co-op Basics

Just in time for the school year, Applegate products are being added to the Co-op Basics program! The Co-op carries a variety of Applegate products, like sliced deli meat, cheeses, bacon, and sausages. Now as part of the Co-op Basics program, you’ll be saving up to $2 on Applegate products across the store, every day. 

Applegate sandiwhc