RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- Healthy, fresh and local. If that’s what you look for when you shop for groceries, then you might want to take a trip to the Great Basin Community Food Co-op.
The Co-op located in downtown Reno was recently found to be the fastest growing co-op in the nation by the National Cooperative Grower’s Association (NCGA). The NCGA is a Co-op of Co-op's, and includes 137 Co-ops across the United States. A majority of U.S. co-ops are part of NCGA.
The Co-op has made impressive strides in the Reno community over the last few years, including driving membership from 6 to 6,000. The idea for the Co-op began when a small handful of people wanted to have a grocery store close to downtown, where they could buy healthy and natural foods. The group came together as a buyer's club, sourcing natural foods, and providing them to local businesses.
Sales at the Co-op were up more than 38% last year, about four-times the normal rate for what would be considered a very healthy business.
What’s unique about Great Basin is that there is no one owner of the store. It is owned by more than 6,000 people, who pay only $20 per year. Membership, which makes everyone an equal-share member-owner, is open to the public, but you do not have to be a member to shop.
Co-op Manager Joelen Cook said that being a part of the Co-op is not just about buying food, but about being part of something much bigger.
"You really feel like you're part of the community," said Cook. "Not only because you can own a part of the store, but also because you can support the local food system. 85 local farmers supply us with produce, and we feature more than 30 regional food producers."
The Co-op recently became a member of the Riverwalk Merchants Association. As a member of the Riverwalk Merchants Association, they add a much-needed grocery retailer to the group, not to mention the downtown area. It gives a lot more potential to the callout for living downtown, as well as spending time there.
The Co-op is also a member of Buy Nevada, the Nevada Department of Agriculture effort that promotes food and agriculture produced in Nevada. They have an outstanding labeling system at the Co-op that calls out local products, BuyNevada products and non-GMO products, and sales items, too.
The Co-op defines local produce goods as those sourced from within our local waterways, the three closest river systems and their watershed/drainages: The Truckee River, the Carson River, and the Walker River.
Cook said those who are hesitant about shopping at the Co-op should consider the bigger picture when deciding on a grocery store. "Every dollar you spend at a co-op, there's 1.6 dollars that goes back into the local economy. When you shop here, you’re investing in something that is going to build and grow our local economy even stronger."
To get more information about the BuyNevada program, visit this website