The Co-op's Online Revolution

February  8, 2011

It used to be that belonging to a co-op meant you’d have to stock the shelves and actually go to the store to shop for your food. Now, a number of start-ups are bringing the co-op to your laptop, so you can connect with other like-minded shoppers and collectively buy local food. We're calling it techno-locavorism. Here are a few of the most interesting efforts:

The Inland Organic Produce Buying Club    A Photo from IOPBC Meetup

•, the interest-driven group networking site, has proven to be the perfect forum for gatherings of local eating/buying enthusiasts. One example: The Inland Organic Produce Buying Club, based in Redlands and Cherry Valley, CA, pools their money every week to make a group purchase from an organic wholesaler or local farm, and divides the produce evenly amongst the participants. In other words, it functions like a classic CSA -- except they met up on the internet.

NYC Meatshare  NYC Meatshare

Shop the Story

• It's not just produce available at the burgeoning online farmers market. New York carnivores have also taken to Meetup, by banding together to buy whole animals at NYC Meatshare. Based in Park Slope, Brooklyn (arguably the most locavoracious NYC borough), the group gets together to order a whole & half pig from B&Y Farms or to plan grassfed cooking lessons. Sign us up!



• At Wholeshare, retail consumers band together to navigate the wholesale marketplace as one powerful buying block -- skipping the middle man, supporting local producers, and saving money. It's invite only (for now) -- sign up here.


This Batch

• A weekly email update out of Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, called This Batch takes root in the notion that not everyone wants a bushel of rutabaga or a sack of rye every month from their CSA. Instead, they dispatch an email each weekend with what's fresh the following week -- you can opt for either a single or family-sized portion for pick-up.



• At Plovgh, you can sign up as either a farm or a consumer and get hooked in to your local food culture, no matter where you live. Help kick-off this "neighborhood farmstand" at Plovgh's official launch party on February 12th!

If you know of other online co-ops, please share in the comments below!


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • ShannonConnealy
  • annette_campbell
  • sboulton
  • heidi_pomeroy
  • cheese1227
Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.


ShannonConnealy February 9, 2011
Bountiful Baskets serves Arizona and a couple other states
annette_campbell February 9, 2011 does exactly what you are talking about:

"SplitStuff is a geo-mashup application facilitating the formation of local ad hoc micro-cooperatives by people and businesses seeking to reduce expenses and effort through bulk purchasing, fractional ownership, local community cooperation and collective buying power."

Our neighborhood had been using traditional sharing techniques for years, but now we're using SplitStuff to find new participants and organize the logistics of each "split".
sboulton February 8, 2011
Wow, this is fantastic! The Park Slope Food Coop has come a long way since I was a member in 1981! It was fabulous then, and even more so now. Go!
heidi_pomeroy February 8, 2011
There are a number of hybrid co-ops that are operating across the country on a model the Oklahoma Food Co-op started over 5 years ago. Basically, member producers (all local) post their available goods online, member consumers place orders and then once a week/month the producers deliver to a central location and volunteers pack orders. The orders are then dropped at pick-up points for consumer pick up. Here's a link to the OFC & other co-ops around the country:
cheese1227 February 8, 2011
Interesting concept for city-bound folks.