Real Pickles: A Co-op Month Success Story
The strength of a community that works cooperatively towards a shared objective cannot be understated in its effectiveness—and, for us here at River Valley Co-op, building and maintaining a just and resilient local food system is one of the most important objectives for us to achieve. We know how immensely fortunate we are to already have a healthy and robust food system well-established here in the Pioneer Valley, thanks in no small part to the extensive network of small farmers and food producers who call it home, as well as a mindful public that values the importance of buying and eating local. But it is this very same notion that best represents why cooperative values are also at the heart of our food system.
Much like how our own co-op relies on the collective and democratic will of its owners to thrive, so too does our local food system depend on its independent counterparts to work together to support its own existence. We simply cannot grow complacent and assume the system will continue to grow or even remain as strong as it is today without the commitment of all those involved, which is why it is also beneficial for said counterparts to encapsulate those values within their own ideologies and business goals.
Real Pickles is a shining example of how an area business can both understand and implement cooperative values thoroughly across each and every aspect of what they do. One of our longtime partners here in Western Massachusetts, they strive to not only contribute to a culture of respect, equity, and shared prosperity within our greater food system but also within their own walls. The small Greenfield-based business was launched with big dreams around the turn of the millennium after recognizing a dire need for healthier and more natural fermented food options in grocery aisles. By committing to sourcing their raw veggies from local farms, they would grow to develop equitable cooperative partnerships with local growers, distributors and retailers—values which they would come to mirror internally upon restructuring their business as a worker-owned cooperative. Today, they are a local staple and a force to be reckoned with, serving as a benchmark to exemplify the potential of delicious food in our region.
In honor and celebration of Co-op Month, we visited Real Pickles to learn more about why they became a cooperative, how they maintain and uphold their values, and what they are working towards to make our little area of the world an even greater destination for local food. Their story turned out to be one of community, longevity and positive energy, not for self-gain but for everyone to share in together. There is little doubt that our local food system would not be as strong as it is today without them—so, just as they support us with healthy, raw fermented foods to enjoy, it is likewise just as important that we band together to support Real Pickles and everything they stand for by sharing their story and purchasing their products at River Valley Co-op! Click below to watch.