Film examines food co-ops as a community-based economic movement
Food co-ops are bringing their story to 50 cities, across the U.S. in the acclaimed documentary Food For Change. The screenings are occurring during October, National Co-op Month, and include college campuses and PBS broadcasts. A local show will take place in Putney, VT, on Tuesday, October 16, at Next Stage Theater, hosted by both the Putney and Brattleboro Food Co-ops. The eventing will begin at 6:30pm with a welcome and intro, with the screening at 7pm and a brief Q&A period after light refreshments social time.
The film tracks the ups and downs of cooperatives from the Great Depression to the present through rare archival footage, animation, graphics, and interviews with co-op leaders. Co-ops are organizing screenings to educate their members and the general public about the nation’s longest surviving alternative economic system, which is also a social movement based on principles of cooperation.
Steve Alves, an internationally-acclaimed filmmaker and member of the Franklin Community Co-op in Greenfield, Massachusetts, narrates the film he directed. He sees the story’s theme of cooperation as particularly relevant to today’s political climate. “It’s American history, from the Great Depression to the present, with co-ops as the protagonist,” says Alves. Food co-ops introduced whole and organic foods to the American diet in the 1970s; today they are the champions of local food systems.
“Across the U.S. we’re experiencing both a renaissance and a challenge to food co-ops,” says Sean Doyle, General Manager of the Seward Co-op. “As food co-ops have grown to be successful businesses with annual sales of over $2 billion, they are facing fierce competition from corporate chain stores in the natural foods market they created. We want the public to know our story and what we stand for.”
“[We’ve had] measurable impact in our region due to our collaborative approach to a sustainable future. We return about 37% of our revenue to the community in the form of local purchases, goods and services, payroll, and taxes. We partner with over 130 area organizations and schools through collaborative programs, outreach opportunities, and donations,” says Sabine Rhyne, Brattleboro Food Co-op’s own General Manager. “…our cooperative endeavors get at the most important stuff and work, often too quietly, on making our region truly sustainable and vital.”