We are all in this together

Anna Louise Batchelor - 04 July 2012

Food marketA famous politician once said that we are 'all in this together' and he is right. Whilst he was talking about the banking crisis and the resulting recession, I'm talking about community. For me there is such a thing as society.

It's easy to be pessimistic about the economy and worry about Britain's future. Over a million young people are unemployed and being failed by an economy that struggles to provide skilled, stable work. In the International Year of Co-operatives let's fix the broken economy ourselves. I advocate looking at the model of co-ops for the way forward.

Co-operatives are defined by the United Nations as 'business enterprises owned and controlled by the very members that they serve' with '...decisions made in co-operatives are balanced by the pursuit of profit and the needs and interests of members and their communities'. This means co-ops not only serve their members, they serve wider society, a goal I would say is synonymous to beliefs held by the founders of the Soil Association.

You are probably aware of the big co-ops in Britain like The Co-operative which boasts a range of businesses from food to funeral services. However, did you know that nearly 13 million people in the UK are involved in co-ops? Co-operatives UK has developed a phone app so you can find one wherever you are, whatever service you may be looking for.

Right there at the forefront of a new wave of co-ops you will find food. The Real Bread Campaign is demonstrating how putting real loaves back at the center of our towns and villages through community supported bakeries has been really positive. A great example of this approach is 'Loaf', a community bakery, cookery school and soon to be shop in partnership with the South Birmingham Food Co-op.

Make use of the Sustain food co-ops finder to see what's already happening in your area.

If we are in this together, let us be in it for the long haul; for the young people seeking rewarding, stable employment; for a society based on economic equity and transparency; for a food future with communities based at the heart of it.

Anna Louise Batchelor is an environmental scientist who has worked in academia, government and industry. For the last six years she has been part of Reading's True Food Co-op.

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06 July 2012 09:09

Me too, would recommend anyone setting up a food co-op. It's not as hard as you may think.

Racheal Jones
05 July 2012 16:16

I'm a member of a food co-op and it's been great for our local community.

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