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Since 1976, the Belfast Co-op has been serving the midcoast community with local and unique food options and friendly service that rivals that of any “big box” store. Their selection is carefully curated by their member-owners to meet the demand of the local food lovers who shop there regularly and support the farms and fisheries of Maine who keep their shelves stocked with the freshest of produce, meats, cheeses and more.
What makes a co-op different? At the heart of a co-op is the idea of community. The co-op is owned by its member-owners, who live in the community and have a vested interest in its success.
“I’m proud to be part of the Belfast Co-op’s workforce,” said Carisa Carney, the co-op’s marketing manager. “I work with an amazing group of individuals that share in upholding the cooperative principles and values.”
Co-op membership is voluntary and open to everyone, and with over 3,900 member-owners it is Maine’s largest food co-op (not to mention one of the oldest). Co-op membership is a $60 equity share. This can be paid all at once, or in installments. Then there is a $15 annual ownership fee for the first adult on the membership in the household, and $10 for each additional adult. This membership not only comes with voting rights and access to the annual meetings, but special discounts in store on certain items as well. Of course you don’t need to be a member to shop at the Belfast Co-op—their motto is “all are welcome.
If you are looking for raw organic milk, something you can’t find at a conventional grocery, you can find it at the co-op right next to pasteurized milk. Through a partnership with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, the fresh seafood in-store is selected to grow both the environmental and the economic sustainability of Maine’s fish stocks. It’s these thoughtful practices and sustainable relationships with local farms and fisheries that makes the Belfast Co-op a place you can feel good about shopping at.
Beyond the food selection is a vast beer and wine section with over 300 wines to peruse and over 150 beers and ciders in a walk-in cooler. Interesting in crafting your own homemade brew? They can help with that too with kits available for the budding brewmaster.
The co-op also has a wide variety of medical herbs you can purchase in bulk in their wellness section. You can also find locally-made soaps and lotions, beeswax candles, and even all-natural toothbrushes. The co-op applies the same principles to their wellness products as they do their food; natural, sustainable, and local products take priority on the shelves.
They even have stuff for your furry friends, too, with organic and natural pet foods, homeopathic remedies, treats, and supplements.
Perhaps the best part about shopping at the Belfast co-op isn’t the amazing cheese selection or the fresh baked bread. It’s not even the friendly faces that greet you at the door. It is the sustainable structure of the co-op. When you spend your money there, you are supporting the surrounding community. Your money is going to local farmers so they can keep growing the food you love to feed your family. It’s going to the local artisans who make the products you trust and can’t find anywhere else.
“At the end of the day, I feel good about where I work, and what we bring to the community,” said Carney.
For more information about the Belfast Co-op, visit belfast.coop.
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