Some people argue that it is too difficult to buy local products. It is rare that everything you need is together in the same place and trips to many different stores may be required. Local products are also limited by season – certain products, especially produce, are only available during specific times of the year. In the end it’s just easiest to purchase what’s available, regardless of whether it came from a different state or country.
The Iowa Food Cooperative is a unique way to purchase local products on a regular basis and allows you to shop from the comfort of your own home. Launched in 2008, the IFC has grown to 650 member-owners, more than 100 of which are producers. Members can shop online, choosing from almost 1000 products. Twice a month, members can pick up what they’ve purchased from one of four metro area locations. Sales over the last two years have exceeded $150,000, 90% of which goes directly to local farmers and producers. 100% of the products sold in the IFC are locally grown and produced. We have been proud members of the IFC for over a year now and have loved the products that have been available to us.
The cost of joining the IFC is $50 with a $10 fee annually after that. In a recent price check of 28 products against Whole Foods, it was found that the IFC prices were 22% lower. Whole Foods aims for 20% of their products to be locally grown or produced (as opposed to 100% at the IFC). All money spent at the IFC stays in Iowa. We asked IFC General Manager Gary Huber what buying local means to him. “Buying local means knowing the people and farms who raise our food – who they are, what they do, where they live, what they value – and caring for them in ways that affect lives for the better, both theirs and ours.”