By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Oklahoma Food Cooperative, Oklahoma’s only online farmer’s market, invites the public to its 2016 annual meeting and open house. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, January 30, at Epiphany of the Lord Church, 7336 W. Britton Road in Oklahoma City.
Members and non-members are invited to attend this free event to meet local farmers, taste food samples and learn first hand about the Co-op.
During the annual meeting, Co-op President and Founder Bob Waldrop will explain to participants the advantages of shopping through the Co-op, which he says goes beyond the convenience of shopping online.
“The Co-op has more than 5,000 items from over 100 local producers selling food, home and personal care items, which is way more variety than any other choice you can make in Oklahoma,” Waldrop said.
The meeting will begin with a “meet, greet & eat” with dozens of Oklahoma farmers and artisans. At noon, attendees are welcome to stay for the business meeting. Updates will be given on financials, operations and marketing efforts.
Guests are asked to use the west parking lot and enter at the Family Life entrance.
“Every single item we offer has to meet strict product guidelines. There has never been a recall from a processor inspected by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture. We visit every farm and ranch to certify producers are doing what they claim to be doing.”
The Co-op began in 2003 with 60 members and four pick-up sites. Today, it has over 5,700 members and 52 pickup locations.
The Co-op offers a wide variety of all natural meats and poultry: pastured chicken, grass finished beef, custom-fed pork, grain and grass fed lamb. All flocks and herds are free ranging and humanely managed.
“We offer Oklahoma wheat and flour, peanuts, and processed and prepared foods like cheese, salsas, breads, pies, cookies, jams, and jellies made right here in Oklahoma,” Waldrop said. “And we have eggs from free-ranging chickens and yogurt from the only dairy with grass-fed cows in this state.”
Non-food items available include soaps, laundry detergent, clothes, art, crafts, and plants.
On the third Thursday of each month, Co-op producers bring orders received online to the Operations Center located at the Old Farmers Market near downtown Oklahoma City.
Volunteers sort the products into individual customer orders, which are then delivered to one of the 52 locations around the state where the food items and craft goods are available for pickup. Payment is due online prior to store closing or at the time of pick up. Home delivery is available in select locations.
Those interested can sign up for a free one month Co-op access account. A lifetime membership can be purchased for a one-time fee of $51.75. Monthly shopping passes can be purchased for $6, or an annual pass is $25 (non-refundable).
The organization has been in business for 13 years and is looking to revive Oklahoman’s love for fresh, local food.
“Our producers work hard to be good stewards of their lands and that is a blessing to the entire planet,” Waldrop added.
“Every dollar spent at the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, where about 78 cents of those dollars go to the producer – compared with less than a dime at the big box stores – is also an investment in a sustainable local economy that can carry us through whatever the future may bring,” he said.