Iowa Food Co-op Gaining Popularity - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Iowa Food Co-op Gaining Popularity

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By Ron Marasco


Tucked away on a small wing of the Merle Hay Mall, you'll find a small, seemingly empty storefront.  But soon the rush comes.

"I just thought it was intriguing," said co-op member Lisa Hokomoto. "I tried some of the items and (it) sucked me in."

"(We found) lots of new customers we would have never got to had it not been for Iowa Food Co–op," said Bob Howard of Country View Dairy in Hawkeye, Iowa.

130 different Iowa farmers send their products to the co-op.

"We're trying to make the world a better place," said Janice Marquardt of Wild Rose Pastures.  "We're trying to farm sustainably, and the product just tastes better."

Shoppers can choose from more than a thousand items, all from Iowa.

"People love the Iowa Food Co–op because they want to know where their food comes from," said IFC Communications Coordinator Jennifer Miller.

Food, Miller says, that's generally healthier and safer than grocery store food.

"(For example) people love to get grass–fed beef," said Miller.  "The health benefits have become known recently, and people really care about what they're eating."

"It's delicious," said Hokomoto.  "The meat is... it tastes so much better than anything that's been sitting in styrofoam or under plastic."

"It makes you feel good that you're eating well... organic, healthy," said longtime co-op member Jerry Weiner.  "And I happen to be a vegetarian, so this is one of my main sources of food."

Members simply shop online and then every couple weeks come to one of the co–op's locations to pick up their food.

"Actually this is easy for me to do," said Hokomoto.  "There's usually plenty of items to choose from."

Marquardt says her eggs sell out within hours.

"I mean the cart opens at midnight, and we have people that sit at home at midnight, (and) wait for that cart to open and stick eggs in their cart," said Marquardt.

While co–op food may be a little more expensive than grocery store food, Miller says it's cheaper than eating out.

"We found that from the food co–op, a family of four could eat for about $20, whereas at McDonald's they could eat for about $28," said Miller.

And some members say price isn't everything.

"I'm teaching my kids that we can buy things from local farmers and local producers," said Hokomoto.  "We don't have to buy it from something that's pre–packaged."

The Iowa Food Co–op says they're waiving their $50 membership fee for six months so new members can try it out.  If you want more information on the co–op, we have a link to their website here, and their Facebook page here.

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