There is a lot to celebrate in October. The local pumpkins have arrived and they are big, beautiful and a great price! The harvest season is in full swing, bringing with it local and delicious winter squash and root vegetables. Pumpkin spice flavored goodies abound, including lots of fabulous fall flavors at the Grain Train Cafe, and we are gearing up for our Annual Spooky Kids tasting events in Petoskey and Boyne City. Be sure to come to the stores after the Halloween Parades to try all our spooktacular treats!
October is also National Co-op Month. And Non-GMO Month. And Fair Trade Month. Heck, it is even Squirrel Awareness Month! Though holding a selfie contest with your friendly neighborhood squirrel was a tempting topic, we thought instead that we would share what we love about being a co-op and offering fair trade products!
There are more than 29,000 co-ops across the country, including worker, producer, service, housing and, of course, retail cooperatives. The Grain Train is a natural foods cooperative that was formed in 1971. That means that we use a cooperative business model that is based on the seven cooperative principles — check them out here if you'd like to know more. The International Co-operative Alliance definition of a co-op is, "Cooperatives are people-centered enterprises owned, controlled, and run by and for their members to realize their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations."
To us, being a co-op means being your community-owned grocery store, and Co-op Month means that we will be celebrating our mission, Making A Difference One Bite At A Time,that has been at the heart of why the Grain Train is here from the beginning. Of course, we celebrate that year-round! The words of our mission may have evolved over time but today we think they get right down to the heart of why we are here. If you want to know more about what makes us a co-op or how to become a member —and we would LOVE to have you as a member—just ask any staff person or check out our website. Everyone has always been and will always be welcome. There are perks to being a member, but you do not have to be one to shop our stores.
One of the co-operative principles is cooperation among cooperatives and there are some really great companies we do business with that are not only cooperatives themselves but also practice a fair trade model. Riojana is a cooperative in Argentina that offers organic, fair trade, cooperatively produced olive oils and wine. We are really proud of our relationship with them, from the delicious fair trade products we are able to bring to you, to all of the good that is coming to the Riojana community through the sales of these wines and olive oils. If you haven’t tried their wines, stop by to find your new favorite! At $6.99 a bottle, you can’t find a wine that you would feel better drinking.
Another company we love to do business with is Equal Exchange. They are all about “Fairness to farmers. A closer connection between people and the farmers we all rely on.” Their mission is “To build long-term trade partnerships that are economically just and environmentally sound.” They work to “foster mutually beneficial relationships between farmers and consumers and demonstrate the contribution of work-co-ops and fair trade to a more equitable, democratic and sustainable world.” When you see their name and logo on a product you know that not only will it be delicious, it will also be sustainable. Check out all the deals on Equal Exchange available right now!
There are endless reasons we are excited to be your community-owned grocery store and, like we said, we celebrate that every single day. But since it is National Co-op Month, we want to make sure you know how thankful we are that you are a part of the Grain Train—members or not, you are the reason we are here and it’s an honor. There are a lot of amazing fair trade items on our shelves and we think that you will really like the stories behind each and everyone one of them. Check them out as you shop and remember, whatever you are celebrating this month, we have you covered and look forward to seeing you at the stores!