Over the past few years, you have undoubtedly seen signs that say “Salt Lake needs a food co-op” on lawns in front of houses or businesses or at the downtown farmers market. The Wasatch Cooperative Market, an enterprise that is now 13 years in the making, aims to bring a member-owned-and-operated food co-op to the Wasatch front. Volunteer organizers of the market are currently in talks to potentially lease a building on 900 South in Salt Lake City — and, eventually, they’d like to expand into other storefronts around the region.
Co-ops have a long history in Utah. Just as one example, the Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution or ZCMI was a Mormon experiment in collectivism that began in the 1860s in downtown Salt Lake. The philosophy behind the cooperative model is that decisions are made by a collective of local owners and the benefits derived from the business stay in the local community.
But what does all of that really mean in practice? And how close is Utah’s first food co-op to becoming a reality?
Stephanie Buranek, board member with Wasatch Co-op
Barbara Pioli, Co-op development coordinator
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