In celebration of the International Year of Cooperatives, Co-operative News is releasing a series of free eBooks that show how cooperatives make a difference worldwide in a number of industries. The first eBook in the series, Co-operative Enterprises Build A Better World Through Food, highlights food cooperatives and their mission to establish food security, which is when “all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.”
In one featured story, Helen Usiri, a newly widowed woman in Tanzania, was left to care for her seven children and six cows when her husband passed away. No longer able to take care of six cows, Helen gave four of them to women in her community. The women agreed that when the cows gave birth, they would keep one female calf each and give any others back to Helen. This formed the Nronga Women’s Co-operative. Although men mocked Helen and her dairy business, it proved to be a success, and the women gained a sense of pride from earning their own income. Due to the success of the cooperative, Helen was able to send all seven of her children through school.
Another story details the cheese cooperatives of Italy, which produce 90% of the world’s Parmigiano Reggiano Parmesan cheese. When an earthquake devastated the area in May, nearly 330,000 wheels of cheese were damaged. However, 6,000 volunteers embraced the cooperative spirit and took action to help the co-ops limit economic loss. With over 8,100 co-ops in the region, jobs and money are kept local, resulting in a thriving local economy and strong sense of community.
Food cooperatives help the communities they reside in by supporting farmers, fueling the local economy, and striving for food security. Like SMCU, food co-ops operate by the 7 cooperative principles to make the world a better place.
Read more about food co-ops in the free eBook.