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Newsletter #20: Fall 2015

Rewind & Fast Forward –

National Co-op Month is a busy time for showing Food For Change. In October 2014 there were 17 shows in ten states; I logged 9,000 miles, making seven presentations in the Florida Panhandle and the Pacific Northwest. This year, screenings occurred in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington for new and established co-ops, start-ups, and community groups.

I spent several years producing, directing, writing, and editing a movie about cooperatives because, as a member of my co-op and an internationally-recognized filmmaker, it was a chance to put my 30+ years of filmmaking skills to good use. I believe cooperatives are a superior business model for social, environmental, and health reasons. I want more people to know about them. I told the epic story of four generations of cooperators working together with the conviction that they could create a more just economic system, because I found it inspiring and it enabled me to portray three of the seven Cooperative Principles: education, working together, and concern for community.

Food For Change was an ambitious film to make. In making it, I forged relationships with over 200 co-ops and made many new friends. That job is now done. My heartfelt thanks to all of you who helped. I’ll take a bow now and move on….

Not so fast! I didn’t do this just to tell a good story, I made Food For Change to make a difference. And that goal hasn’t been reached. Food For Change isn’t just another food documentary. It’s a film that makes you want to buy healthy food from a co-op. It identifies co-ops as the authentic choice in the fierce and growing competition for natural foods. Read More…

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Newsletter #19: Spring 2015

Attention Cooperators!

So much is happening with Food For Change! Since the film’s release it’s been shown at over 100 events in 30 states. And it’s just the beginning. The advent of the online digital age has changed the map of media distribution. If we are able to put in the time and effort needed to build connections between people and organizations, there is little to stop us from reaching millions of people on the benefits of belonging to a co-op. Please read our Outreach & Distribution Plan. Let’s work together, following Cooperative Principles 5, 6, & 7. Now is the time for a National Cooperative Education Campaign!  Read more here…

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Newsletter #18: January 2015

A $10,000 grant from Frontier Co-op will help co-op members, the general public, and college and high school students across the country learn about cooperatives using the documentary Food For Change! Their contribution will help up to 30 co-ops receive a discounted copy of the two DVD set of Food For Change. Also in this newsletter, we give an overview of the Co-op Month screenings nationwide, and Steve Alves’ tour to six cities around the country. Read it here.

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Reactions To Food For Change

I felt energized by the movie. I loved all of the historical background and couldn’t help feel that what we’re doing will be historic someday too. The movie made me believe that we can do anything!

– Steering Committee Member, Food Shed Co-op, Woodstock, IL (formerly known as the McHenry County Food Cooperative Start-up)

We hosted a very successful screening to about 150 people in our community, and were able to sign up 16 members on that day. People reported that they enjoyed the framing of the co-op movement within a historical context.

– Malik Yakini, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network and Detroit People’s Food Co-op Start-up

We are brand new food co-op in Fargo ND. We used the movie as part of our membership drive / awareness raising campaign and had about 100 people out to view it at the historic theatre in our downtown…Being able to give historical and nationwide context to the food co-op movement is key. Many of our members attended the viewings and I think having co-op members with a strong understanding of the history and role of food co-ops will only serve to make our co-op stronger.

– Kaye Kirsch, Prairie Roots Food Co-op Start-up, Fargo SD

After the pre-showing of the movie this afternoon, my mind has been on over-drive and my heart so full of inspiration and emotion. It’s hard to believe that after so many years of thinking I was the only one who had “these” thoughts, it was enlightening to be watching the predecessors of my train of thought going into action. And then for me to be surrounded by fellow believers in the push for sustainability within our communities. This is EXCITING!

– Steering Committee Member, Food Shed Co-op, Woodstock, IL (formerly known as the McHenry County Food Cooperative Start-up)

I saw this film a while back and I fell in love with it. I want to help spread the word on how wonderful cooperatives really are.

– Dani Lapiano, board member of the Mountain View Market Co-op in Las Cruces, NM

I just finished the film, and it blew me away; the archival footage and history went far deeper than I’d expected, and I’m impressed.

– Matt Cropp, Cooperative VT

I just wanted to thank you for making such an excellent movie and resource to help us be successful. Everyone loved your film at our public screening and it really helped to solidify why we are all volunteering to make our coop such an important initiative for our community. We just started selling ownerships and I would guess 15 are because of the movie. We have many more out there that are working to save money for the ownership because they were inspired by the movie!

– Doug Close, Steering Committee, Food Shed Co-op, Woodstock, IL (formerly known as the McHenry County Food Cooperative Start-up)

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What’s Next

Now that Food For Change is complete, the work to spread the idea of cooperation is just beginning. We are currently developing a marketing plan to identify groups and individuals we’d like to reach such as high schools, colleges and universities, community groups, and libraries. Send us your thoughts and suggestions about potential audiences.

The plan includes an outreach director, coordinator, and promotional advisors. Our goal is to have the time and resources required to create a study guide, a content-rich website, and an outreach effort to spread the film nationwide. And yes – we will need funding to achieve these goals. It’s a new phase of the project and we are very motivated to get going on it. 

Check out five ways that you can help spread the word, and contact us to sign up to become an active promoter of the idea of cooperation.

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Spread The Word!

5  Ways  To  Spread  The  Word:

The response to Food For Change has been overwhelmingly positive. But the challenge still remains to get it seen by more people, especially those who know nothing about coops. We’ve developed an outreach and distribution plan to spread the important story of co-op history and the principals of cooperation. Join the movement to help raise awareness nationwide. If you want to help, sign up for our mailing list to receive alerts and information.

1. Tell  Your  Friends,  Family,  and  Co-Workers

Your enthusiastic endorsement is the best way to bring the idea of co-operation to more people. Tell people about the film. Share our information on your social media accounts. We are especially looking for individuals who would be willing to take an active role in promoting the film, and in return receive a free link to watch the film. If that sounds like you, or anyone you know, please contact us.

2. Join  us  on  Facebook  and  Twitter

Join our Facebook and Twitter communities. Share our accounts with others in your social media community.

3. Host  a  Screening

Screen the film for your church group, non-profit, garden club, or town community. Contact us for information.

4. Join  Our  Mailing  List

Sign up here to receive our regular email newsletters and to stay up to date on news and upcoming campaigns such as a week of free online streaming, DVD sales, and more!

5. Help a Start-Up Co-op

Over 100 co-ops are in development across the country. Several have already purchased the film and are using it to raise funds. Many others would benefit from owning a copy of the film to grow their membership but lack the funding to do so. Contact us to purchase a copy for a start-up co-op, and help strengthen the cooperative movement!

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Learn  More  About  Co-ops  And  Food  Politics

Check out our bibliography below for books referenced in the making of our film, and download our annotated script from the film.

We’ll be adding to this list as our Outreach Campaign gets under way. Stay tuned for more articles and original content!

Co-operative  History

A summarized article about the history of co-ops can be found at Stronger Together, including a video about the Rochdale Pioneers, the first co-operative members in the world.

A thorough list of resources on the history of worker co-operatives in the US can be found at the American Worker Co-operative website.

All  About  Co-ops


Stronger Together’s YouTube channel hosts a range of videos about food co-ops, buying bulk, recipes, and more.

What’s to Love About Food Co-ops? Stronger Together compiles recent data to show the impact food co-ops are making in the US.

video about the Rochdale Pioneers, founders of the first co-operative in the world.

UN’s International Year of The Cooperative, 2012. A nice summary of co-operatives’ impact around the globe.

Food  Politics

The issues surrounding our food system are broad and complex. Here are a few food-related topics making the news. Stay tuned for Food For Change original articles on some of these complicated stories.

The Honeybees’ Decline:

Several new findings have recently come out relating to the alarming rate of honeybee deaths in recent years.

“Smiting the Mite To Save The Bees” (NPR’s The Salt, April 30, 2014)

“World’s No. 1 Pesticide Brings Honeybees To Their Knees” (The Christian Science Monitor, May 9, 2014)

Want to Get Involved? “Saving The Bees: 13 Groups Buzzing With Solutions” (The Christian Science Monitor, May 2, 2014)

GMO Labeling:

Currently, 64 countries require GMO labeling. Some states in the US have passed laws to require the labeling of products containing genetically-modified organisms, but only if a certain number of other states pass similar legislation. Vermont is the only state to adopt such a law outright.

“Vermont GMO Bill Expected To Face Major Legal Challenges” (NPR’s Food For Thought, May 7, 2014)


Agricultural breeders have been saying it for years; the less diversity we have in our animal and plant breeds that we depend upon for food, the more vulnerable we are to epidemics that can wipe out entire industries. This has been the argument for maintaining diverse species in our food supply, whether it be in turkeys, wheat, or apples.

“Bacon Prices Rise After Virus Kills Millions of Baby Pigs” (The Christian Science Monitor, April 8, 2014)


Here is a partial list of the works cited during our research for Food For Change.

Bolles, Joshua K. The People’s Business: The Progress of Consumer Cooperatives in America. New York, NY: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1942.

Cohen, Lizabeth. A Consumer’s Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003

Estabrook, Barry. Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Put Most Alluring Fruit. Kansas City, MI: Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, 2011.

Furlough, Ellen & Strikwerda, Carl. Consumers Against Capitalism? Consumer Cooperation in Europe, North America, and Japan, 1840-1990. Cumnor Hill, England: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1999.

Gide, Charles. Consumers’ Co-operative Societies. New York, NY: Alfred. A Knopf. 1922.

Hewitt, Ben. The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food. New York, NY: Rodale, 2010.

Kelly, Marjorie. Owning Our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolution. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2012.

Knupfer, Anne Meis. Food Co-ops in America: Communities, Consumption, and Economic Democracy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell university Press, 2013.

McMillan, Tracie. The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s Farm Fields and the Dinner Table. New York, NY: Scribner, 2012.

Nadeau E.G. & Thompson, David J. Cooperation Works! How People Are Using Cooperative Action to Rebuild Communities and Revitalize the Economy. Rochester, MN: Lone Oak Press, LTD, 1996.

Parker, Florence. The First 125 Years: A History of Distributive and Service Cooperation in the United States, 1829-1954. Superior, WI: Cooperative Publishing Association, 1956.

Restakis, John. Humanizing The Economy: Co-operatives in the Age of Capital. Gabriola Island, Canada: New Society Publishers, 2010.

Ronco, William. Food Co-ops: An Alternative to Shopping in Supermarkets. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1974.

Shermer, Michael. The Believing Brain: From Ghosts to Gods to Politics and Conspiracies – How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths. New York, NY: Times Books, Henry Hold and Company, LLC, 2011.

Voorhis, Jerry. The Little People’s Chance in a World of Bigness. Danville, IL: The Interstate Printers & Publishers, Inc., 1975.

Warbasse, James Peter. Cooperative Peace. Superior, WI: Cooperative Publishing Association, 1950.

Wilson, Edward O. The Social Conquest of Earth. New York, NY: Liveright Publishing Corporations, 2012.



“Chemicals, n:  Noxious substances from which modern foods are made.”

~Author Unknown


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