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Food Co-ops in AmericaCommunities, Consumption, and Economic Democracy$
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Anne Meis Knupfer

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780801451140

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801451140.001.0001

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Food Cooperatives before the Great Depression

Food Cooperatives before the Great Depression

(p.14) 1 Food Cooperatives before the Great Depression
Food Co-ops in America

Anne Meis Knupfer

Cornell University Press

This chapter explores the practices and ideologies of food co-ops established prior to the Great Depression. Before the Civil War, most buying clubs and food co-ops were formed by workingmen's associations to resolve unfair working conditions and wages as well as high food prices. After 1865, labor groups such as the Knights of St. Crispin, the Knights of Labor, and the Sovereigns of Industry renewed their interest in cooperatives, hoping to replace capitalism with cooperation. Their working-class solidarity fostered their hope for economic democracy through the creation of co-ops. This interest in food cooperatives occurred alongside the growth in grocery chain stores nationally. In most cases, grocery chain stores outsell smaller stores and co-ops in ethnic neighborhoods through lower prices and customer selection. But in other cases, members remain loyal to their co-ops.

Keywords:   food co-ops, Great Depression, buying clubs, Knights of St. Crispin, Knights of Labor, Sovereigns of Industry, grocery chain stores, capitalism, food cooperatives

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