Andrew Zitcer (Drexel University) recently published an article in Antipode, where he explores the topic of exclusivity at food co-ops, using Mariposa and Weavers Way as case studies.
Consumer food cooperatives constitute a vital part of the alternative food movement in the United States, alongside farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture, community gardens and other initiatives. Like these efforts, food co-ops seek to counter the dominance of industrial agriculture and the decimation of local economies. Yet food co-ops wrestle with a paradox of exclusivity, whereby some practices and people are inadvertently left out in order to create conditions for a strong identification among others with particular ways of being and doing. This article explores the paradox of exclusivity through an in-depth study of two food co-ops in Philadelphia, PA. Exclusivity manifests itself in what the co-ops sell, their business practices, and how they market themselves to potential members. Overcoming the paradox of exclusivity requires efforts towards affordability, accessibility and reflective practice in order for co-ops to realize their transformative social and economic potential.