The Seven Co-op Principles

A food co-op is a grocery store owned by your neighbors (and by you, if you choose).
Unlike corporate chains, we’re totally independent and owned by the community members who shop here.

Here’s how it works: Everyone is welcome to shop, eat and hang out here. And everyone is welcome to join the co-op by making a one-time investment, and then getting back financial rewards and a vote to choose the board of directors and impact the direction of the business.

While each food co-op is unique and owned by the community, they’re also part of a network of neighborhood stores across the country that work together toward the day when everyone has the good, local, healthy food they deserve. Welcome to the table!

Like all cooperatives, Viroqua Food Co+op operates under the following guiding principles. The seven international Cooperative Principles are as follows:

1. Voluntary and Open Membership
Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.

2. Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership.

3. Members’ Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. The economic benefits of a cooperative operation are returned to the members, reinvested in the co-op, or used to provide member services.

4. Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.

5. Education, Training and Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperation.

6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

7. Concern for Community
While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.

The natural food co-ops are an amazing co-op success story. In the 1970s thousands of people became interested in organic, natural, and unprocessed basic foods that were not readily available in grocery stores. Communities organized co-ops to get these products. They built connections with local producers and vendors and experimented with forms of management and membership structures.

Through their efforts over many years, we now have a thriving organic and natural foods industry that is providing a market for producers who want to use earth-friendly and sustainable farming methods. Urban and rural folk have developed new bonds while consumers around the globe have grown more aware of their power to transform society through the products they purchase every day.

It is important to remember that the value of being an owner member is in the use of services. In other words, there are businesses that you could invest in, never use and yet still make money on your investment. Shopping here makes the business profitable, supports local farmers and employs your neighbors.