Back to Eden

Co-ops at their core are a community of people. We come together to own and jointly support a vision for change through the vehicle of a business. Our CGFC community is made up of almost 6,000 people who own a share in CGFC and regularly support the business.

A little over six months ago, in July of 2014, CGFC posted an article on facebook about a controversy surrounding one of the leaders in the organic food industry, Eden Foods. Eden Foods, like Hobby Lobby, chose to sue the U.S. Government over the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate. The owner of Eden Foods, the largest independent organic foods company in the U.S., is owned by Michael Potter, who objects on religious grounds to providing birth control to his employees and has never done so in their employee benefits package.

Community is built through conversation, especially through having the conversations that are not easy. We put the article about Eden Food's out there to encourage community conversation, to offer information you could base your purchasing decisions on, and to ask for your voices. CGFC's 2nd End, is that CGFC exists to be an educational resource on food issues and we believe offering this information to our owners and shoppers is part of CGFC's Ends. 

We got the word out through social media and our newsletter, then we listened. What we heard immediately was that there was a diversity of strongly-held views. I received a few dozen phone calls and e-mails from owners and a few dozen more engaged in a lively social media conversation on CGFC’s Facebook page. I heard from those wanting CGFC to ban all Eden Foods products immediately; I heard from those that wanted Eden Foods products to absolutely stay on their co-op’s shelves; and I heard many nuanced opinions in between.

After listening to owners for a month, CGFC took the following actions:

  • I wrote a letter to Eden Foods on behalf of CGFC, find here

  • We offered all owners and customers comment forms in store on Eden Foods that we shared with Eden Foods in addition to the above letter

  • we “flagged” Eden Food’s products on our shelves, offering information to all shoppers on why some CGFC owners wanted them not to support Eden Foods, policy here

  • we began reviewing all the Eden Foods products CGFC carried to see how they were currently selling, what replacements might exist and committed to tracking their sales over the next 6 months.

At the end of 6 months, we did a final review of Eden Foods products. These were the results:

  • Overall, all Eden Foods as a category grew 12% in sales, on par with the rest of the CGFC grocery department.

  • 19 Eden Foods items actually saw above average growth in sales compared to the rest of the department during this period.

  • Due to lack of review of this brand’s sales previous, we discovered that 7 Eden Foods’ items did not sell very well and did not justify space on CGFC shelves, these items were discontinued and are no longer carried at CGFC:

    • Rice & Beans - lentil and rice (canned)

    • Rice & Beans - curried rice and lentils (canned)

    • Rice & Beans - spicy pinto bean

    • Pasta Sauce - parsley garlic

    • Pasta Sauce - spaghetti sauce

    • Pasta Sauce - spaghetti sauce, no salt added

    • Tomatoes - whole romas w/basil

Part of our commitment to you, as owners of CGFC with almost 6,000 other members of your community is to listen to you and allow what you share to shape what CGFC is. Through your feedback we learned we needed a way for owners to communicate with fellow owners in the aisles about product concerns and ask that the store do an in-depth review of the products. From this input we created the “flagged product” policy through which any owner can submit their information and research on why they feel a product should be flagged.

Bringing potentially controversial information to you about products to help you make educated purchasing decisions and provide space for your input is core to what makes a co-op different than any other business you will ever support. We want you to have that information and we want to hear you. We will and do spend hours researching product concerns and have in depth conversations with owners about what is on CGFC’s shelves and we wouldn’t have it any other way. To me, this conversation is what it means to be a co-op.

In Cooperation,

Jacqueline Hannah

General Manager

Common Ground Food Co-op