Grocery Activism: The Radical History of Food Cooperatives in Minnesota, Craig B. Upright
Numerous scholars and journalists have examined how movements respond to social injustices driven by capitalist markets. Far fewer have studied how movements sometimes constitute those markets, shaping everything from consumer behavior and supply chains to industry norms and standards. With Grocery Activism, Craig B. Upright has given us a refreshing, insightful, and highly readable account of how one movement exercised such a constitutive influence.
Upright’s book tells the story of Minnesota’s “new wave” grocery store cooperatives—why they emerged, how they survived, and, most importantly, how they helped transform the supply, demand, and valuation of food in America. He shows how, during the 1970s, these cooperatives banded together to create a market infrastructure for “organic” or “naturally grown” foods. At the time, Upright explains, the federal government and mainstream grocers mostly dismissed popular interest in sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives to industrialized agriculture. Cooperative activists, on the other hand, embraced this interest, developing the customer relations, distribution networks, and regulatory practices needed to satisfy it. In the process, they also ensured their survival by differentiating themselves from larger competitors and associating co-op membership with
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