Leveraging the Local: Cooperative Food Systems and the Local Organic Food Co-ops Network in Ontario, Canada

  • Jennifer Sumner University of Toronto
  • J. J. McMurtry York University
  • Hannah Renglich Ontario Natural Food Co-op
Keywords: Cooperatives, Cooperative Food Systems, Economic Theory of Cooperative Food Systems, Leakages, Leveraging, Linkages, Local Food, Local Organic Food Co-Ops Network

Abstract

Cooperative food systems are based in cooperation, encourage inclusion, reconnect farmers and consumers, champion the local, and support more environmentally sustainable food systems. This exploratory research proposes a new economic framework for strategizing how to strengthen cooperative food systems. It also presents the example of a cooperative food system emerging in Ontario, Canada, the Local Organic Food Co-ops (LOFC) Network, to illustrate how to use the framework, drawing on the experience of the third author, who is the animator of the Network. Applying this analytical tool to the LOFC shows that the sixth cooperative principle — cooperation among cooperatives — is crucial for the viability of the Network, along with alliances and education. It also highlights the strength of horizontal linkages and the importance of leadership.

Author Biographies

Jennifer Sumner, University of Toronto
Adult Education and Community Development Program; OISE, University of Toronto; 252 Bloor Street West; Toronto, Ontario M5S 1V6 Canada.
J. J. McMurtry, York University
Business and Society Program, York University; S712 Ross Building, 4700 Keele Street; Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3 Canada.
Hannah Renglich, Ontario Natural Food Co-op
Local Organic Food Co-ops Network, c/o Ontario Natural Food Co-op; 5685 McLaughlin Road; Mississauga, Ontario L5R 3K5 Canada.
Published
2016-09-24
Section
Cooperatives and Alternative Initiative Call Papers