Jon Steinman

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since Aug 07, 2019
Nelson, British Columbia, Canada
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Recent posts by Jon Steinman

So great to hear about your co-op in Australia! Congrats.
1 month ago

Laurie Gallant wrote:My question for you - would you like to be a speaker at our event in 2020? and also, what do you think about my approach? A cooperative processing facility with mobile equipment that can be lent out at affordable rates?

Thanks for your questions Laurie. Indeed, I'd be more than happy to attend your conference. Email me at

On your other questions. Absolutely. Mobile processing sounds like a wonderful initiative. I don't know the circumstances around food production in that part of the province so I don't know how helpful I could be in offering feedback. That said, increasing processing capacity is no doubt one of the most impactful ways that I've witnessed to aid in localizing food system and keep locally grown/raised food from being exported out of the region while at the same time attracting new entrants to primary food production as a result of that processing capacity. One initiative here in the southeast of the province that from what I've heard has been successful is a mobile juice press -  I've also been inspired by these initiatives in Wisconsin and Vermont:
1 month ago

Nicole Victoria wrote:Interesting! I’m in Canada on the West Coast and the closest co-op to me is a gas-station- I haven’t really looked into where the closest co-op grocery store is. It definitely has me thinking.

Hi Nicole, A food co-op directory was set up on the book's web site to help folks find the nearest one and to find those that are in development.

One thing to note about the directory though is it doesn't include all of the food co-ops in Canada - notably the co-ops that are members of Federated Co-op and some of the former affiliates of Co-op Atlantic. It's a bit of a complicated story behind that reasoning but I generally focused the book (and directory) on co-ops that have maintained a strong level of autonomy in how they're managed and a commitment to charting a more sustainable and responsible food future. Among those that fit that definition, there really aren't that many in Canada and my hope is that the book will inspire and support a new wave to emerge.
1 month ago

Davin Hoyt wrote:Hi Jon!
I've been wanting to set up a CSA vending machine. Any thoughts on that?

Hi Davin,
Interesting idea. I think I'd need a little more info as to what would define a CSA vending machine (or did you mean a 'co-op' vending machine)? Intrigued.
1 month ago

Travis Johnson wrote:We do not have a lot of co-ops in Maine.

Indeed there aren't many, but after having the pleasure during my spring book release tour to visit 4 of the 8 food co-ops in Maine, I'd say Maine is doing pretty well in the food co-op movement - particularly given the highly seasonal demographics in the state. Each of the co-ops I visited were really inspiring (Norway, Damariscotta, Gardiner and Portland). There's a great story in the Grocery Story book about the emergence of the food co-op in Portland. That co-op opened up after the largest Whole Foods in the country opened its doors just down the street. The co-op is actually doing really well despite this! Over in Blue Hill, the co-op there just moved into a shiny new store. Pretty exciting. And I unfortunately couldn't make it to Belfast but I only ever hear amazing things.

Here's a directory of food co-ops -

and an excerpt from the book....

The launch of the Portland Food Co-op (PFC) in Portland, Maine,
helps tell this story of ambition and resilience in the face of seemingly
impossible odds.

When it opened in 2014, PFC wasn’t the first food co-op to have
operated in the city; the previous one had closed its doors in 1997. This
left eaters who were interested in alternatives to the big grocers to rely
on the Portland Public Market, The Whole Grocer (a privately owned
natural food store), and one location of the Wild Oats natural food
chain (which, by the way, to much disdain, had opened literally nextdoor
to The Whole Grocer in 2003). Then, in 2006, the Public Market
closed and Whole Foods moved into town. Whole Foods staked its
claim by purchasing The Whole Grocer and commencing construction
on a megastore that opened the following year. Whole Foods shut
down The Whole Grocer location, then announced its nationwide
plans to acquire the Wild Oats chain. Portland’s Wild Oats location
was soon shuttered. Whole Foods had effectively colonized the alternative
food scene in Portland, Maine.

Rather than surrender to the Texas-based grocer, in 2008, residents
launched the Portland Food Co-op — a buying club that relied on
distributors like UNFI, Frontier Natural Products Co-op, and local
suppliers. By 2012, 350 member–owners were purchasing $200,000 a
year through the co-op’s online ordering system. In their move toward
a storefront, a core group of fifty members began forming committees
in 2013, and by 2014, membership had grown to two thousand.
The required $1.3 million was raised to open the store — $800,000
of it provided by members, with the remainder contributed by the
Cooperative Fund of New England and the City of Portland. The store
opened in 2014. A pretty incredible story of “what’s possible.”

1 month ago

James Freyr wrote: I've noticed that after the small competition was extinguished, prices slowly started to rise.

My perception is that once the national corporation undercut the competition, running most of them out of business, can now charge more, even price gouging, reaping massive profits.

Here's an excerpt from the book that describes grocery pricing in areas of different levels of market concentration. It demonstrates how when the number of grocery options decreases, prices do indeed rise.

1 month ago

Steven Lindsay wrote: there's a lot of little things going on.

Steven, I see you're in Atlanta? There's one consumer food co-op there - Sevananda Natural Foods. For others interested in finding out where the nearest food co-op is to you, there's a directory available of food co-ops across the U.S. and Canada. There's also a directory of startup food co-ops (groups without a storefront but working towards it) -
2 months ago
Looking forward to engaging with you all August 19-23 to discuss my new book: Grocery Story - The Promise of Food Co-ops in the Age of Grocery Giants. Thanks for bringing attention to this important topic. :)
2 months ago