It was August 1973 when our Co-op took root in Moscow. At that time, the nation was riveted by a Senate investigation into any illegal or unethical acts by the Nixon Presidential campaign related to the Watergate break-in at the Democratic National Committee office.
Jim Croce’s recently released “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” was in heavy rotation, spending two weeks at number one in July.
And E. F. Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful – Economics as if People Mattered” was hitting bookstores and deepening growing concern that modern economic practices are unsustainable.
It was a fertile time for growing a cooperative grocery store in Moscow. 1960s counterculture ideas and increasing concern about soil, water, and air pollution were spurring the formation of natural food cooperatives all across the country in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
So too in Moscow, when University of Idaho students Rod Davis, Jim Eagan, and David and Kate Mosel decided to start a natural foods store to address their concerns about rising food costs and the environmental impact of corporate food production.
First called the Good Food Store, our founders opened our doors at 112 East Second Street with an inventory that consisted of peas, lentils, cheese, spices, and a few miscellaneous items. We were run entirely by volunteers, and in our first month sales totaled $126.88. In the second month sales grew to $1,000 – it was clear that Moscow wanted its Good Food Store! Then, with 25 members and a few grants and individual loans in place, the Good Food Store officially became a nonprofit cooperative association with the state of Idaho on April 25th, 1974.
Six homes and 41 years later, we’re now guided by more than 7,000 local owners who engage in the cooperative business model to build a socially responsible food and goods system.
Throughout this history the Moscow Food Co-op has always been more than the buildings from which we’ve sold lentils and our pesto rolls. Our cooperative is the community of owners who sustain this store for the benefit of our broader community.
With each issue of Rooted we will explore stories from our history as a cooperatively owned grocery store as well as the current fruits of our work together. Do you have any stories from our past to share? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 882-8537.