What is Membership?
Since the beginning, GreenStar's mission focused on making nutritious, whole food available to its members. But membership means more than just access to good, healthy food...
When you join the Co-op you become a Member-Owner of a locally-owned and cooperatively operated values-based business. We focus on the social and environmental impact GreenStar makes on our local and global community, as well as economic performance. We put our values first, and return all profits back to the Co-op or donate them to the community.
One Member – One Vote means your voice truly counts!
Like all consumer co-ops, GreenStar is owned and democratically run by the people who use the store. Unlike traditional corporations where the amount of a stockholder's investment determines his or her voting power, every member at GreenStar has equal voting rights. As a Member-Owner, you have an equal say in the future direction of GreenStar.
By investing and participating in your co-op, you're putting your values into action.
Through your Equity Share investment and patronage, GreenStar supports the health and well-being of our member-owners, our community and the planet by:
- Purchasing from local farmers and businesses
- Paying a livable wage
- Using clean energy and recycled office supplies
- Supporting organic agriculture and fair trade producers
- Offering health insurance to employees
- Donating to local charities and events
- Providing education on nutrition, health and sustainability
- Improving access to healthy food to those on limited budgets through the FLOWER program
Tuesday, 01 January 2013 22:33
By Alexis Alexander,
Throughout GreenStar's history, member-owners have voted on a number of member referendums that stipulate various requirements regarding the products GreenStar can sell. The very first member referendum, in 1991, allowed certain chocolate products to be sold, while another in 1992 allowed the sale of certain poultry and fish.
In 2003, member-owners voted on two referendums allowing red meat to be sold in the store. Meat Referendum #1, "Permission to Sell Meat with Conditions," specified that GreenStar can sell red meat provided it's organic, or as close as possible to organic, and otherwise complies with our existing Product Line Guidelines. Meat Referendum #2 placed two more restrictions on the red meat sold at the Co-op. Specifically, 1) the Co-op could only sell red meat from farms located within 40 miles of Ithaca, and 2) GreenStar had to perform two unannounced inspections of the farms each year, reporting on the living conditions of the animals on the farm, the animals' water sources, and the methods of slaughter; if the supplier was not certified as organic, the inspection also involved verifying that the animals' food, including forage, was organic.
Both referendums passed, allowing red meat to be sold in the Co-op for the first time. The requirements were so strict, however, that at the time there were no farmers who met the requirements. Since that time, only a few farms have qualified to sell their meat at GreenStar. While the 40-mile requirement itself is limiting, the biannual inspections are even more so. GreenStar does not have the expertise or resources to conduct the inspections and testing called for in the referendum. The inspection component also constitutes a significant restriction that is not placed on other vendors, producers, or farmers.
Why a New Meat Referendum?
Due to these restrictions, for the past several years GreenStar's retail departments have been unable to fulfill numerous requests by member-owners for a wider selection of meat products in both our Grocery and Deli departments. Local and regional farmers have had limited access to GreenStar member- owners and vice versa, forcing our non-vegan and non-vegetarian member-owners to go to other retailers to purchase their meat products. Therefore, to improve the Co-op's ability to meet the needs of our member-owners who consume red meat products, and to better support the local and regional farmers who raise animals sustainably and organically, GreenStar management, in collaboration with member-owners and farmers, initiated a member referendum petition this past summer to repeal Meat Referendum #2, "Additional Conditions on the Sale of Meat." The referendum was submitted to Council with the required 100 member-owner signatures in July.
The proposed meat referendum leaves Meat Referendum #1 intact, meaning that GreenStar would still be required to sell only meat that is organic or as close to organic as possible. By repealing Meat Referendum #2, the Co-op would be doing away with the most limiting parts of the current meat policy — removing the requirement that the farm be within 40 miles of Ithaca and removing the inspection requirement. This means that we'd be able to carry meat from regional farms that fall outside of the 40-mile radius, allowing GreenStar to enhance our support of both local and regional farmers. It would also allow GreenStar to carry products desired by our member-owners that we cannot source locally or regionally.
Furthermore, to ensure that any meat product sold at GreenStar conforms to our rigorous Product Line Guidelines, the referendum encourages Council to add to the current Guidelines the following preferred criteria for red meat products. These criteria would be used by our buyers when making purchasing decisions: 1. Local/regional emphasized; 2. Humane treatment of animals; 3. Sustainably raised; 4. Grass-fed emphasized, where applicable; 5. Hormone- and antibiotic-free; 6. As organic as possible (per the current Product Guidelines and Meat Referendum #1).
In July, Council approved the referendum for a member-owner vote this coming spring. Over the next three months, we'll be providing more information to our member-owners on the upcoming vote both in the store and on our website. As part of our standard referendum process, we'll be issuing a pro and con statement to help member-owners weigh both sides of the issue before voting. We currently have a volunteer to write the pro statement and still need to find a member-owner to write the con statement. If you're interested in writing the con statement, please contact Dan Hoffman or call him at 607.273.1323.
I can't stress enough the importance of member-owner participation in the voting process. Your vote, combined with the votes of all our member-owners, provides the best measure of what our member-owners, as a whole, really want from the Co-op. I encourage everyone to get involved in the dialogue this winter and spring about the referendum. The more member-owners involved in the discussion and voting process, the better our Co-op's democratic process.