In recognition of the International Year of Cooperatives, we will be sharing the stories of different cooperatives throughout the year. This month, we're highlighting Frontier Natural Products Co-op. Read on and enjoy!
Since its beginnings in 1976, Frontier Natural Products Co-op® has been a member-owned cooperative dedicated to supporting and advocating the values of the cooperative community: integrity, openness, social responsibility, and respect for the environment. In other words, they have chosen to grow and prosper by contributing to the world rather than exploiting it.
In one of Frontier's earliest planning sessions back in the 1970s, the founders expressed their cooperative commitment perfectly: "In all that we do, at all times and with all people, we will conduct our affairs and the affairs of the company with absolute integrity." This commitment is as strong today as ever.
Take, for example, the cooperative’s Well Earth® Sourcing Program, which is “Fair Trade” Frontier style. When Frontier’s line of body care products (produced under one of the co-op’s brands, Aura Cacia, began to use baobab oil, a botanical from Senegal, Africa, in its skin care products, they didn’t just go in, take as much as they could for as long as they could and get out, as most companies do.
Some baobab trees are one to three thousand years old and provide crucial sustenance to their communities. The bark is used to make fiber and rope; its leaves provide nutritious feed for animals; and the trees produce football-shaped fruits that contain nutritious fiber. The fruit also contains seeds that are so hard, they can pass through the digestive tract unscathed. There wasn’t much use for the seeds because of that. But when pressed, the seeds produce a fantastic oil. Because the seeds hadn’t been used, sourcing the seeds and their precious oil for Aura Cacia products takes nothing away from the traditional uses of the tree.
But, as PR director, Joe Coffey, points out, “The neatest thing is that when you use the oil, you’re tapping into something even deeper. This tree is so important in Africa, it has spiritual significance. It’s the center of the community. If you live in a village that’s surrounded by baobab trees, you’re surrounded by life.” And with the economic development provided by the seed oil, communities now see economic value from their trees, as well.
The cooperative’s third brand, Simply Organic, produces organic seasonings, dip and dressing mixes. Fueled by the exceptional popularity of their products, Simply Organic is a leader in organic seasonings. Organic Valley has a close relationship with the brand when it comes to cross-pollination of initiatives and projects, which only makes sense when you consider both our brands are all about delicious, nutritious food!
“Our connection goes deep,” Joe says. “Not only do we do business cooperatively, but we’re on the same page when it comes to being committed to why and how we do what we do, and who we’re doing it for. We’re trying to do the right thing for people who are looking for good quality products made by companies who are very aware of what happens to the earth and the communities we source our ingredients from.”
“Like Organic Valley, we're proud to run an honest, responsible business, and we believe that's how the people who use our products want it to be run. Our goal is to leave future generations with a healthier world than the one we live in today.”
The wonderful thing about food co-ops is that they belong to their communities in ways that go far beyond the footprint of the store itself. As Elizabeth Archerd, membership and marketing manager of the Wedge in south Minneapolis, Minnesota, puts it, “We are so much more than a grocery store.”
Forgive us if we get a little teary on this one, because this month’s profile highlights a partnership with an organization that was there for us from the get-go. While our partnership today with National Farmers Organization (NFO) is more equitable, we are nevertheless “joined at the hip,” as CROPP CFO Mike Bedessem likes to say.
All of our cooperative partners who work to get Organic Valley and Organic Prairie products from farm to table are crucial to our success. However, consumers don’t see the result of that hard work until they walk into stores like the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op and find our products on the shelves.
Organic Valley's Northwest Pastures™ Milk goes from farms to tables across the northwest via a network of cooperatives that work with each other in spite of the fact that they are also competitors. This month we spotlight two fellow cooperatives who make our own regional milk program possible.
Who knew the purchase of some of the tastiest chocolate on earth or the finest “cupping” coffees could be so deeply satisfying? Equal Exchange fans tend to sum it up perfectly: “It’s easy to choose organic and fair trade when it tastes great!”
Founded in 1976 by 300 families seeking healthy food, La Montanita Co-op Food Market now tallies about 15,000 members and serves New Mexico out of six locations in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Gallup. Learn what sets La Montanita apart from your basic grocery store.
Most folks think of Organic Valley and Organic Prairie as sources of delicious and healthful organic foods. What they don’t know is that the key to our success is our cooperative business model known as Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools (CROPP).
In recognition of the International Year of Cooperatives, we will be sharing the stories of different cooperatives throughout the year. Please join us this year to celebrate the benefits of working together!