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written by Robynn Shrader, CEO of National Cooperative Grocers Association

Every day the food co-op members of National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) celebrate the farmers, the people and the communities that they support, and that, in turn, embrace and sustain the cooperative business model. Food co-ops play a unique role in building local foods systems and vibrant economies.

This year, the United Nations provided a global platform for all co-op enterprises to share their stories by designating 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives. This year is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for food co-ops to raise awareness and celebrate the social and economic contributions of cooperative businesses, as well as help more people across the country discover what food co-ops are all about.

To get the word out, we teamed up with celebrity chef and passionate local foods advocate Kevin Gillespie. Together, we traveled around the country and captured food co-op stories on film to create a 13-part video series airing throughout this year. In the videos, Kevin treks through farm fields and grocery aisles, sharing stories about good food – everything from raising heritage breeds and five-star eggs to urban gardens, aluminum mulch and community-driven food sourcing.

I am excited to share these videos and the international celebration of cooperatives with Slow Food USA. Together, our shared passion for good food and desire to create vibrant and sustainable communities can go a long way toward building a better food system. We hope you will join us in celebrating the International Year of Cooperatives here!