Leveraging the Local: Cooperative Food Systems and the Local Organic Food Co-ops Network in Ontario, Canada
AbstractCooperative food systems are based in cooperation, encourage inclusion, reconnect farmers and consumers, champion the local, and support more environmentally sustainable food systems. This exploratory research proposes a new economic framework for strategizing how to strengthen cooperative food systems. It also presents the example of a cooperative food system emerging in Ontario, Canada, the Local Organic Food Co-ops (LOFC) Network, to illustrate how to use the framework, drawing on the experience of the third author, who is the animator of the Network. Applying this analytical tool to the LOFC shows that the sixth cooperative principle — cooperation among cooperatives — is crucial for the viability of the Network, along with alliances and education. It also highlights the strength of horizontal linkages and the importance of leadership.
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