If you shop regularly at the Viroqua Food Co-op, chances are you’ve seen theP6 labels and signs sprinkled throughout the store. But do you know what the label really means, and why we’re so excited to support products with that label?
P6 is an initiative that was designed by food cooperatives to help consumers choose products made in line with their values. It’s named after the sixth cooperative principle: Cooperation Among Cooperatives. It helps stores like the VFC, and shoppers like you, support equitable and just trade relationships between farmers, producers, retailers and consumers. It’s rooted in cooperative principles and values, and aligns well with our mission at the VFC.
In order for an item to carry the P6 label, it must be produced by a business that is at least two of the following three criteria: 1) local, 2) cooperatively owned (or nonprofit), or 3) small. As large corporations increasingly move into the organic food business, the P6 label helps consumers like me buy products from organizations with business models I want to support.
As an owner of the VFC, I’m proud our Co-op has been an early adopter of the P6 Program. Over 185 P6 Producers had products in our store last year. On March 26, we’ll continue our annual tradition of hosting a P6 Tailgate Party in the store’s parking lot. You’ll get the chance to meet local P6 Producers and try samples of their food.
Part of supporting P6 Producers is financing their growth. That’s why the VFC has established the Microlending Initiativeopen to any P6 Producers who supply the VFC. In 2016, our zero-interest loan is going to Wisco Pop! We were proud to provide the seed money necessary for Wisco Pop to start their bottling line two years ago. This year, Wisco Pop will use the loan to establish a certified organic line of their local sodas. Bringing organic options to our community is an important part of the VFC’s mission, so we’re excited to do this and support one of our P6 Producers at the same time!
Here in the Driftless we’re lucky to have many P6 Producers to supply our Co-op with delicious and nourishing foods, wellness products, and more. Next time you’re at the Co-op, I encourage you to look for the P6 label on the shelf and read the stories of P6 Producers throughout the store. And I hope to see you at the P6 Tailgate Party on March 26!
Leslie Kruempel, VFC Board of Directors