Opinion: The Fort Collins Co-Op creates community through a local and healthy driven lifestyle

It’s that time of the week to talk food again! And healthy, quality food nonetheless; which I have been loving talking about lately. As I explore different options throughout Old Town of where to find some fresh, local eats — I cannot skip out on discussing the amazing Fort Collins Food Co-Operative, or the Co-Op for short.

An outside view of The Fort Collins Co-Op. Photo credit: Pinterest

This local natural grocery store is small, historic, and provides Fort Collins with some of the most organic based products in town. Established by CSU students back in the 1970s, the concept stems from a little thing that Fort Collins continuously and seemingly strives for: community. Located in the heart of Old Town, and I think on the best road in Fort Collins, at 250 E. Mountain Ave, the quaint shop supports locally grown and produced goods, and is all organic.

Different options of local food, coming in all different shapes, sizes and colors. Photo credit: Alex Lee

What I find so incredible about this company is how they want people to know what they are eating and encourage a consumption awareness of food and how it is all sourced. I know not everyone is as into it as I am, but I think it’s important stuff and I’m here to try and convince you why you should too. It’s critical for us as a younger generation to make the right habits now so that we aren’t looking back and wondering why we didn’t make healthier choices earlier on to prevent diseases that are so prevalent today such as diabetes and obesity.

For those unaware of what a co-op is all about, they all begin with a community driven mindset. According to strongertogether.coop, “in the United States, there are more than 29,000 co-ops.” And yes, ‘coop’ has its own website domain because it is that (in)credible. There is an across the board commitment to health and community, but it extends much further as cooperatives actively work towards supporting local organizations in any way they can, and by shopping at a local co-op, your business is going towards a much greater good than you might think.

The Fort Collins Co-Op’s charity of the month is the Fort Collins Rescue Mission serving the homeless by providing shelter, meals, and guidance. Through efforts like charity of the month, the Co-Op strives towards continual outreach and education services in the local community and have done an amazing job of bringing people together through what matters the most.

Of course, people argue that co-ops are too expensive or you have to be a member to shop at one of them. And yes, organic food can be expensive, but it’s real food that you are investing in - not that fake crap that people just buy because it’s cheap. Obviously not everyone can afford it, including myself, and I totally get that. But here and there when I want to go out to eat, I’ll instead go pick up a couple of organic groceries which equals out to being just about the same if I were to go buy a $12 meal somewhere else, and I would not be receiving the same health benefits from buttery, fried restaurant food. On the other side, I used to feel like I couldn’t shop at the Co-Op unless I was a member, but I soon found out that was not true. Members just receive a lot of additional rewards and discounts on what they are purchasing, like 10% of vitamins and herbs every day. Check out more of their membership deals here!

A fresh line of local and organic produce to choose from at the Co-Op. Photo credit: Alex Lee

Whenever I am looking for a little pick-me-up before work or as I am perusing downtown for something health conscious to eat or drink, the Co-Op is an amazing option to grab something as simple as an apple, locally made granola bar, or pre-made dairy-free and gluten-free chicken curry or vegan breakfast burritos. The deli food is rationed out by weight, so the prices vary. They have a wide array of options, just in a more limited and local, fresh, and organic manner. It is remarkable how conscious the Co-Op is about where everything comes from, and I think the community driven business is an incredible addition to the beautiful town of Fort Collins. In fact, I believe we need more organic and local options to choose from when it comes to food.

Head down to the co-op and pick up some lunch, a few staples, or even just to check the place out to get a feel of the good vibes. With a college budget, it’s sometimes hard to fathom spending a little more on local food items and organic products, but it is definitely worth it in the long run. Making an effort in small ways now will benefit us all later down the road, and it’s important to be aware of our health and shop at local places to support our community and well-being.

Photo credit: Pinterest
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