Green Top goodness

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Natalie Weimer

It’s easy and even popular to support “green” causes, but how many of us actually take action to address an environmental issue? If someone asked me how concerned I was about the environment, I would say I was very concerned. And if someone asked me to describe the ways in which I contribute to global sustainability efforts, I would say I recycle. (But like, a lot. And every single time. Even when the trash can is closer.)

Obviously there’s a disparity here, and I’m fairly certain that there are other Illinois Wesleyan University students guilty of participating in the same lethargic activism. Instead of falling on tired excuses or shifting the responsibility to someone else, college students need to start incorporating environmental sustainability efforts into their lives.

This can be achieved, of course, in a myriad of ways, but there is one movement in particular that warrants the support of Illinois Wesleyan students. Green Top Grocery is a community-owned grocery store co-op which illustrates the significant demand for local food products in Bloomington-Normal.

According to their website, a co-op grocery store is a full-service grocery store, owned and operated by those who purchase equity shares in the co-op. “Owners” include anyone who supports their mission and purchases a $200 share. Green Top Grocery was established by community members in 2012 as a way to support local farmers and, as reported in the Pantagraph, they reached a total of 356 owners this month. When they reach 500, they can begin looking for a brick and mortar location. This means the grocery store doesn’t actually exist yet; they need 1,825 owners to fully function, but this is predicted to happen in late 2014 or early 2015.

There are numerous community benefits that result from a co-op grocery, and as part of the Bloomington-Normal community, Illinois Wesleyan students should be aware of them.

First and foremost, Green Top Grocery would support local farmers. The Pantagraph mentioned that co-op grocery stores typically support about 157 local producers, whereas conventional grocery stores only support about 55. Green Top Grocery would also create local jobs, keep money in the community and increase business for existing local food stores. Their website points to The Common Ground Food Co-op in Urbana, which started out in 2007 providing $150,000 to local producers and grew to $1 million in 2012, as an example of what they’re trying to bring to Bloomington-Normal.

Becoming an owner is a tremendous way to support Green Top Grocery (and if you are unable to pay $200, they offer installment payments and financial assistance), but it is certainly not the only way to contribute to this local green movement. Spreading awareness is especially valuable—consider liking their Facebook page called “Green Top Grocery.” Reach out to those in the community that may be interested in ownership, like professors or local businesses. Check out their website (www.greentopgrocery.com) to get informed and visit the contact page if you’d like to get involved.

Doing nothing to support environmental sustainability, food justice, and availability of healthy options is not without consequences. When it comes to these concerns, doing nothing means doing damage. Sustainable development and good food are ripe to grow in Bloomington-Normal with Green Top Grocery.