Why Buy Locally?

Buying from local farms and businesses builds and strengthens our overall economy.  It supports your friends and neighbors, and reduces our environmental impact with less use of fossil fuels.  Our research shows that if we can increase our local food economy, we can create sustainable jobs that produce healthy, local food (Ken Meter - W. Montana study).  Ken Meter has studied food systems in 58 regions in 25 states. Through his many years of intensive agricultural research, he has come to believe that as a society we need to re-think how a community functions or else risk continued harm to our personal health, economy and general well-being.  The Montana Co-op owners are committed to positive change and our solutions include:
*Create more healthy  
food products and share throughout the state.  This immediately creates jobs and more options for healthy foods.
*Help people understand that a reliable supply of fresh local produce promotes better health and food security. 
*Encourage relationships between local producers and consumers, as this is an essential component of improving food systems.  

The Montana Co-op is  setting up a Food Hub in every community that will make those consumer and producer connections.  This is just the beginning of the many benefits of a Food Hub.  Knowing your local farmer has become a valued aspect of connecting with food, and with it brings a relationship, knowledge, and a clear understanding of how food is raised and who is raising it.  With the Montana Co-op service model, locally grown food is immediately delivered to your family table when its taste and nutritional value are at their peak.  

Many of the Montana Co-op Food Hubs will give local food 
access to rural towns that have lost their Main Street and grocery store, and have limited access to food without traveling long distances.  Most of the population in our rural Montana communities are over 55, there are few new developments to bring in jobs, and people are getting older and more tired.  We can revive these small towns by first giving them a Food Hub, and then go from there.  We have a shared website for simple ordering with weekly, year-round delivery (with future phone/catalog ordering); each Food Hub can receive orders and has the potential of opening daily to support their community food needs.

We also know from Ken Meter's presentation (Crossroads Research Center) that the only way we're going to make our food economy better is if we join together, local producers and consumers, local and state government, local organizations and institutions, and transporters and distributors.  To work together towards a common goal will take a lot of trust and commitment on all of our parts.  The Montana Co-op is connecting and rallying behind every great cause, for every Montana community, and supporting each other with good food and great company.  Join in our plans and projects, and we will do the same for you!  

Consumers that buy local foods dramatically reduce the costs and negative health impacts associated with transportation of food.  On average, food on your table travels between 1,000 and 1,500 miles.  This results in decreased nutritional value, increased dependence on fossil fuels, and an increased possibility of food contamination.  Click here to help understand the importance of "Buying Locally?"
To view some of our local research during our feasibility study, click here.  

Support the Kids Co-op by investing in our future, offering healthy food and recycled products, and providing services that benefit the community.

Question:  What are the consumer benefits of being a Montana Co-op member-owner?
- A $20 life-time ownership fee gets you access to over 100 local producers with a click of your mouse.
- Get connected with your local community that is working hard to keep money local by buying locally.  Know and feel that your support is needed and appreciated.
- Access the freshest food possible: produced, processed, or prepared locally.  
- No commitment to buy; pick and choose what you want and when you want it (grocery store model). 
- To make sure you get your favorite local food products, you can purchase an annual share of multiple items (i.e. eggs, cheese, meat, produce, etc.).  These consumer commitments help us reach our goal of producing and consuming more Montana made products.  On behalf of the local producers, it really helps them with growth strategies.
- Access all Made-In-Montana product from one source (www.montanacoop.com) and have it delivered once a week (home or pick-up).
- When a new  consumer joins the Co-op, it increases our buying power and generates better pricing for local wholesale purchasing. 
- The Co-op provides a year-round local market place that we all share.
- Participate in the growth of our local food system to provide food security, healthier food options, and economic stability with quality jobs.
- As an equal owner, you will have a vested interest in the Co-op’s success.  You have many avenues of getting involved and providing input to shape the Co-op's direction.
- Be part of a Food Hub in your community that will bring you and your family many great resources.  

For more customer questions and answers, click here.

Question:  What are the producer benefits of being a Montana Co-op member-owner?
- Get connected with your local community that is working hard to keep money local by buying locally.  It's important for producers to have many local avenues for sales.
- The Co-op producers can focus on more production, with less focus on marketing, internet sales, and social media.
- When a new  producer joins the Co-op, it increases the marketing and outreach for every other producer. Each producer is asked to send their customers to the Montana Co-op to buy their products; while the customer is there, they can now buy other local products.
- The pricing that is generated for the producer is higher than other retail or wholesale options because of the direct connection to the consumer.
- Producers can sell their projected quantities in advance by earning pre-order commitments and deposits from local consumers.
- The Co-op provides a year-round local marketplace that we all share.
- The Co-op provides collaborative transportation with other local producers.  This transportation service and coverage will gradually expand as the business develops.
- Participate in the growth of our local food economy to provide food security and economic stability with quality jobs.
- Partner with other like-minded producers that want to build community and collaborate with producers and consumers
- As an equal owner, you will have a vested interest in the Co-op’s success.  You have many avenues of getting involved and providing input to shape the Co-op's direction.
- Sell publicly to your local community while reaching new markets.

For more producer questions and answers, click here.

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