Real Food

Real Food Co-op

We turned off highway 101 and onto Rhododendron Drive. Right at the turn was a tiny store with a sign on the window, Real Food Co-op. I collect Co-ops like some people collect recipes or old cars. We didn’t have time to stop as we were overdue to meet my brother and his wife at their new Florence home. Sometime during the evening I asked them if they had visited the co-op. My sister-in-law said “yes, but they don’t have anything on the shelves. I think mostly what they have is different kinds of handmade soap.”

This sounded sad to me and I debated if I even wanted to go see a grocery co-op with only soap on the shelves. A couple days later we did go. The general manager was standing at the counter with a beautiful welcoming smile on her face. I felt instantly at home and never did see the soap. Instead there was a row of bulk basics, grains, beans, flours, etc…also a row of liquid bulk foods, oils, vinegars, and more. I found my favorite brand of canned salsas, enchilada sauces, and pickles from a Eugene company who only uses locally grown certified organic ingredients. The cold case contained all the dairy products that I buy as staples and there was a small freezer case with an assortment of frozen locally raised meats. The back of the store was given over to a three compartment sink and counter for washing and prepping produce. The produce selection was limited but looked very good. Jen Nelson the manager told me that a fresh shipment was due in that very afternoon from a Eugene distributor who also supplies Ashland Food Co-op. They deliver to this little coastal co-op twice a week.

To my brother and sister-in-law I said, “This is how it all starts, small and with a great deal of integrity. Jen told me the co-op has been here for four years and is in the black with 200 owners. It will continue to grow and serve its community. People say shop the perimeter of a grocery store, not the middle. This little co-op only has a perimeter, that’s why it may feel to you like there’s nothing on the shelves. If I lived in Florence I would shop here because everything I need to make quality meals is on these shelves.”

More Co-op News

Meet Board of Director Trine Ostergaard

Trine Ostergaard is a newly elected Ashland Food Co-op Board of Director. She brings a world, literally, of experience to the table and has a sincere passion and love for the Co-op. We are thrilled to have her aboard and asked her to answer a few questions.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Meet Board of Director Dean Williamson

Dean Williamson is a newly elected Ashland Food Co-op Board of Director. He brings to the table a plethora of co-op experience and a love of chocolate chip cookies. We are thrilled to have him aboard and asked him to answer a few questions.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Staff Picks: Favorite Local Products

September is Love Local Month!  All month long we’re celebrating our local farmers and vendors with demos, events and more. Here are some of our staff's favorite local products.


Meet Pachamamma Coffee Cooperative

By Lauren Taber, Pachamama Coffee Cooperative

Pachamama Coffee Cooperative started in 2001 with a few simple questions in mind: what would it look like to take Fair Trade a step further? How can coffee farmers be in direct relationship with end consumers in the United States?

We found that the answer was even simpler: cooperative ownership. Pachamama Coffee has been 100% farmer-owned since day one, and is currently owned by 140,000 small scale family farmers across the coffee producing regions of the world.

Community Cider Backyard Fruit Drive

How often can you browse the shelf at your neighborhood grocery store, see a bottle of hand crafted, local cider and say, “Hey, I help make that!” Well, at the Co-op you can.

2018 Board Election Results

The AFC Board of Directors is pleased to announce the results of the 2018 Board Election. There were three excellent candidates running for two Board positions. In total, 905 votes were cast.

Congratulations to the following candidates who will serve three-year terms on the Ashland Food Co-op Board of Directors.

Thank you for voting!



Beat the Heat

When the heat of summer takes over, it can be hard on our bodies and moods. Don’t let the scorching temps get you down, cool off with one of these refreshing Staff recommendations.

Report from the Board of Directors: Strategic Plan Update

By Jeff Golden, External Relations Committee Chair

Ashland Food Co-op is striding into the future with careful intention. We’re especially focused on the three top priorities of our strategic planning process, a collaboration of our board and management team. A quick update:

Riding off into the Sunset


By Annie Hoy, Retiring Marketing Manager

Since I was born and raised in far West Texas, I cannot help but use some imagery from what is so familiar to me.

Staff Picks: Summer Hikes and Trail Snacks

Our staff loves to head outside and enjoy the gorgeous Oregon outdoors. Here's a few of their favorite trails and the Co-op snacks they like to take with them.