A food cooperative or food co-op is a grocery store organized as a cooperative. Food cooperatives are usually consumers' cooperatives and are owned by their members. Food cooperatives follow the 7 Cooperative Principles and typically offer natural foods. Since decisions about how to run the cooperative are not made by outside shareholders, cooperatives often exhibit a higher degree of social responsibility than their corporate brethren.
The History of the cooperative movement started in the 19th century and the first notable food cooperative was started in Rochdale, England by industrial weavers known as the Rochdale Pioneers. The cooperative movement saw a resurgence in the 1970s when many "second wave" cooperatives started.
In the United States, the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) is a cooperative federation that is composed of 146 food cooperatives.
This page originally adapted from the Wikipedia page: 
- The food cooperative. Guardian.co.uk. 8 Dec. 2005.