Board Corner: April 2022

Greening Our Co-op’s Future

 

Just as what we eat impacts our health, our daily food choices also have a dramatic impact on our planet. Food production — in particular, the industrial food production system (“Big Ag”) — is responsible for ¼ of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to Our World In Data. Since we all have to eat, what can we do to address this major cause of climate change? The purpose of the East End Food Co-op is to exist as a sustainable business, enhance the health of our community, and present a creative vision for the future. Since climate affects all of these things and we all affect the climate through what we eat, we need to think about planetary impact as part of the Co-op’s identity.

 

You’ve probably heard the term “Net Zero,” which refers to reducing and, when reduction isn’t possible, offsetting emissions to the point of elimination. The Co-op is a long way from “Net Zero,” but we’ve started talking about how to get closer. This will involve choices we make as we expand to new premises, decisions about what products to offer while maintaining affordability and food access, and visions of what the shopping experience could look like in a plastic-free future. Ultimately, the Co-op on its own is only a piece of the larger food system. Perhaps the biggest opportunity we have to enhance our community’s long-term health is by working with co-ops around the country to support and develop robust and resilient food systems.

 

The path to a greener future will be messy. The effects of climate change are already contributing to instability in our food system. Globally, we’ve seen drought, disease, flooding, and fires that have already made getting certain products harder or more expensive. Our own Co-op has started feeling the impacts of climate change, with products that have become harder to find, more frequent storm-driven power outages and supply shortages, and subtle price increases in staple products that are becoming more challenging to grow (like flour). To remain a sustainable business, we’ll have to adapt and respond nimbly to these and other challenges in the years to come.

 

This Earth Month, I hope you’ll take a moment as you shop to consider the climate impacts of the food you’re eating, and to learn about the ways your Co-op is already working to build a resilient and climate-aligned food economy.

 

Ultimately, as member-owners of this business, it’s up to us to envision a green and healthy future for our Co-op and to work toward creating that reality. If you’re interested in getting involved, please consider this your invitation to join the Co-op Resilience Committee. We meet on the 4th Thursday of every month to discuss these issues and more. To learn more, you can email me directly at brian@brianalderman.com or write to boardofdirectors@eastendfood.co-op.

Brian Alderman

Board Member & Resilience Committee Chair