‘Food co-op’ is a term that many have likely heard, but may not know the meaning of. First, a co-op refers to people working together to meet mutual needs. In this instance, it is an organization that is owned by the people who use it. Food co-ops have been described as places to purchase tasty, high quality food, places to gather, and can also be major economic forces in a community. Sound familiar? Many farmer’s markets, like Findlay Market, are mainstays in their neighborhood and have this open, welcoming atmosphere that invite people in and persuade them to stay and shop. It is within reason that today’s farmer’s markets could one day evolve into something more along the lines of a food co-op. What if we could bring the farm closer to the farmer’s market, and change the fundamental structure of the way the market operates? How will we get there? First, we must ask ourselves some questions.
What cultural, social, political, economic trends today might lead to a collapse of Capitalism and the creation of a new political economy?
The dollar loses its value due to what Streeck refers to as “phase four”– the part of capitalist evolution in which we’ve essentially resorted to printing money. Eventually the bottom falls out and inflation rises so high that things become unaffordable. Then follows a lack in labor and a growing trend toward strikes as people lose faith in the system due to ever widening divisions in social status, prompting an upheaval of the current economic model.
What is the nature of the post-capitalist political economy?
The political economy I’m envisioning for this post-capitalist community in downtown Cincinnati is something more akin to market socialism. In most cases, the means of production are owned by the public or are cooperatively owned, but this economy still utilizes currency and monetary value along with market competition to drive innovation without emphasizing maximizing profits.
How might emerging technology or pioneering science steer those topics?
Bringing the farm to the farmer’s market could be fairly plausible in the case of Findlay Market and the growing ‘Market District’ in OTR thanks to aquaponics. Aquaponics is a form of indoor farming using an entirely sustainable system of plants grown in water using waste produced by fish. These facilities could be implemented in some of the vacant lots in and around the Market District.
Additionally, by implementing a food co-op structure in the large scale form of a farmer’s market, the people and the community can thrive. Like the new economic model a co-op market is owned by its members and the good sold there are produced by local farmers in both the traditional sense and in new and innovative forms of farming like aquaponics.
How does it shape everyday life around a specific topic, domain, object, or social ritual?
By bringing the farm to the farmers market, the community can also have a chance to grow closer and more united as the co-op model will rely on many citizens to last and thrive. This will not only alter the way we shop for groceries and how they are produced, but can also provide opportunities for employment and education. Those in need of a job will have greater opportunities in a district full of community markets, and people of all ages can learn about a process that we rely on daily, but also take for granted just as often- growing our own food. This is of course all in addition to the traditional feel of shopping and relaxing at the market, as it will still maintain monetary exchanges for goods and provide a place for people to gather.