Why Shop Co-op?

What is a Co-op?

Cooperatives are member-owned, member-governed businesses that operate for the benefit of their member-owners according to common principles agreed upon by the international cooperative community. In co-ops, member-owners pool resources to bring about economic results that are unobtainable by one person alone. Most simply put, a cooperative is a business:

  • voluntarily owned by the people who use it, and
  • operated for the benefit of its member-owners.

Ownership is not required to shop at Natural Harvest Food Co-op. Everyone in the community is welcome to shop at the Co-op!


Cooperative Principles & Values

Co-ops are based on values not unlike those we subscribe to individually, including self-responsibility, democracy, equality, honesty, and social responsibility. In addition to these common values, seven basic international principles serve as guidelines to provide a democratic structure for co-ops around the world. While adoption of these principles is not required, most co-ops choose to adopt them for their business.



The 7 Cooperative Principles: 

Voluntary and Open Membership

Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership/ownership, without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.

Democratic Member Control

Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their member-owners, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership/ownership. In primary cooperatives, member-owners have equal voting rights (one member-owner, one vote), and cooperatives at other levels are also organized in a democratic manner.

Member Economic Participation

Member-owners contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Member-owners usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Member-owners allocate surpluses for any of the following purposes: developing their cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership/ownership.

Autonomy and Independence

Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their member-owners. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.

Education, Training, and Information

Cooperatives provide education and training for their member-owners, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public – particularly young people and opinion leaders – about the nature and benefits of cooperation.

Cooperation Among Cooperatives

Cooperatives serve their member-owners most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.

Concern for Community

Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities, through policies approved by their member-owners.

Find Us

732 N. 4th St.
Virginia, MN 55792


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