Mother Earth Living

Food-Buying Clubs

Save money by getting your friends together and buying bulk from wholesalers.
By Debbie Ortman
September/October 2001
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As demand for organic food grows, so does the need to know where to find the best values. Food-buying clubs may be the answer. These informal groups organized to buy directly from cooperative food warehouses (wholesalers) can save health-conscious consumers substantial amounts on groceries. With a minimum order requirement, warehouses allow groups to order in bulk and then divide their order among themselves. Each member volunteers time toward the task of ordering, bookkeeping, and distribution. You can start a food-buying club in your neighborhood or at your workplace, church, community center, or with a group of friends.

Your savings come from buying directly from the wholesaler at a significantly discounted price, sometimes 20 percent less than at natural products stores. Buying in bulk provides even greater savings and also means less packaging and waste going into landfills. And watch for great sales, too!

Cooperative food warehouses across the ­United States supply food to retail co-ops and buying groups, maintain listings of cooperatives within their service regions, and provide technical assistance to individuals and groups interested in starting food-buying clubs. These warehouses are most often owned and controlled by the local cooperatives they service. They all have ­catalogs and will usually send you one free copy on request.

For help in organizing a food-buying club or joining an existing one in your community, contact the closest cooperative food warehouse in your state.

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