French Broad Food Co+Op

The Bulk Basics

The Bulk Basics

French Broad Food Co-op boasts the largest selection of bulk herbs in the Southeast! We’ve got just about every bulk herb, tea, and spice that you could imagine. In addition to the herbs and spices, we have all fair trade coffees, grains, nuts and flours (including rice and flours for those who are on gluten-free diets).

Buying in bulk is one of the most economical ways to shop natural foods! It’s also one of the most Earth-friendly. You save money by not paying for packaging and that’s less cardboard and paper products used in the process. 

We welcome you to bring your own containers:

Just weigh the empty container on the scale in the bulk room and write down the weight before you fill it up.

One benefit of Co-op Ownership is special Owner sales, and the next one features our amazing bulk department! This January 22nd Owners save 10% on bulk foods, liquids, and herbs all day long.

If you aren’t an Owner yet, joining the co-op involves completing an application and making a payment toward the $250 equity share. This payment can be made in yearly installments of only $25 over ten years. Get for more information here.


Who Owns Your Grocery Store?

By JON STEINMAN is the author of “Grocery Story: The Promise of Food Co-ops in the Age of Grocery Giants” (New Society Publishers, 2019).

“Who owns your grocery store?”

It’s the question emblazoned on the back of a van that has ferried me across 34 states to visit 128 consumer-owned grocery stores (food co-ops) and another 20 in development.

I spent 13 years investigating every facet of the food supply. It led me to the conclusion that the grocery store is, hands down, the most influential force shaping food, the planet, and our health. So I wrote a book about it, bought a tour van, and took the book on the road. The message I’m sharing is that it’s time to pay a lot more attention to who owns the grocery stores we shop at and what those answers mean to the future of food and the future of our communities.

We have invested considerable energy over the past decade into deepening our understanding of how and where food is grown and who grows it. Organic food has exploded into a $50 billion industry in the United States. Farm-to-table restaurants are plentiful. Farmers markets are thriving and community supported agriculture models are enabling new generations of farmers to usher in a new food paradigm. But there remains a cavernous gap in the effort—where we buy our groceries. If 10% of our weekly food budget is at a farmers market, what about the other 90%? It’s almost certainly being invested in a grocery store. So what are we investing in?

If it’s The Fresh Market, you’re investing in Apollo Global Management—a firm that includes the former Blackwater in its portfolio. If it’s Trader Joe’s, you’re investing in Aldi Norda German multinational grocer. If it’s Whole Foods, you’re investing in Amazon and lining the pockets of the wealthiest person on the planet. And what of the smaller chains? The trajectory of grocery consolidation suggests you’re investing in what will likely become an acquisition by one of a handful of hungry grocery giants.

Look at Canada and the U.K., where market concentration in grocery retail is remarkably high. In Canada, two companies alone receive over half of Canadians’ grocery dollars. Combined with the next three largest grocers, those five companies command 80% of the market. The numbers are similar in the U.K.

What happens when a market becomes this concentrated? Take Loblaw Co. Ltd., the largest of Canada’s grocers commanding 30% of the market. December 14, 2017: Loblaw admits to the Canadian public that they’ve been cheating their customers for 14 years – alleging they had colluded with four of their most notable competitors to fix the price of bread. It’s understood Canadians were spending $1 more per loaf of bread than general rates of food inflation would have predicted. Back in 2007, over in the highly concentrated U.K. grocery market, Asda and Sainsbury’s admitted to fixing the price of dairy between 2002 and 2003. The scheme was said to have cost consumers the equivalent today of $438 million.
If 10% of our weekly food budget is at a farmers market, what about the other 90%? It’s almost certainly being invested in a grocery store. So what are we investing in?

As a Canadian, I’m particularly interested in what will come of the investigation into bread price fixing, but despite the ongoing investigation it appears we have already moved on.  On April 9, 2019, Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister announced Loblaw would receive a $12 million subsidy to upgrade refrigeration units at 370 of their stores. Company admits to cheating Canadians. Canadians gift them $12 million. Incredible.

Are Canadians outraged? Are they switching grocery stores? Absolutely not. Loblaw is doing just fine.  Granted, there aren’t a whole lot of alternatives. Four other grocery giants are alleged to have participated in the scheme. In many areas of the country, those five grocers are the only options available.

Similar levels of market concentration are also emerging across the United States. After Walmart’s explosion into grocery in the late 1990s and early 2000s, waves of grocery mergers and acquisitions followed, leaving only a handful of grocery giants operating in any one geographic area. As I traveled through the eastern states this past spring, it became clear how few people are aware of the companies behind the banners. The once regional chains are no longer so regional. Hannaford, Food Lion, Giant, Stop & Shop, all are now subsidiaries of Ahold Delhaize (Netherlands.) Fred Meyer, Harris Teeter, Ralphs—now Kroger banners. Safeway, Shaw’s, Star Market and Vons—all now part of Albertsons.

With the exception of some areas of the country where fierce grocery store battles are playing out, we eaters are generally at the mercy of one of a few giants. In rural communities and many urban neighborhoods, there might be just one single option available—textbook monopolies.

“Well, that’s capitalism for ya,” some will say. No doubt. But this is different. This is about food. Grocery stores are not, in any way, just some other “business.” These buildings operating in our neighborhoods bear tremendous social and economic responsibilities.

Take human health. The connection between food and health is now well understood. Studies show that the common cold, diabetes, and heart disease can be prevented, curtailed, or managed through the foods we eat. Food is medicine. So what responsibilities have we placed upon these grocers that are proportional to the vital health services they’re providing? What have we done to ensure all people, regardless of income, race or geography, are provided access to healthy, wholesome, and risk-free food at the grocery stores in their neighborhoods? Not much. We’ve left the health implications of our grocery stores entirely in the hands of market forces.

A grocer’s economic role is also deserving of scrutiny. Ten years ago, it was nearly impossible for local/regional food producers to get their products on the shelves of a major national chain operating nearby. Whereas some progress has been made in this regard, there remain many producers who continue to come up against substantial barriers when trying to access the shelves of their local/regional grocers. These barriers effectively throttle local economic development and diminish the wider social benefits that extend from the presence and growth of a diversity of local businesses.

For the past 100 years, grocers have also been shaping the entirety of the food system. With only a handful of grocers dominating any one region or nation, they have effectively acted as bottlenecks within the system—gatekeepers to the foods that will and won’t make it to market. It’s the grocers who are determining the how, where, and who of food production both locally and globally. Grocers are determining the future of food.

As there is no regulatory oversight of grocery store behaviors and practices in these three key areas of influence, where can we eaters find modest assurance that grocers have our interests at heart? And how might a grocer’s commitment to our community be sustained for generations to come? I believe it comes down to who owns your grocery store. It should come as no surprise that the most locally owned grocer is most likely to be the most accountable and responsive to the community it serves. After all, the owner(s) and senior management are often residents of the town/city/neighborhood in which the store is located.  As long as our neighborhood grocer is privately owned, any assurances of long-term commitment are precarious. No question there are many independent grocers out there who are in it for the long haul and dedicating themselves to their customers, but it’s risky for any of us to place the future of our neighborhood grocer entirely in the hands of a single individual or family. Just as closures of chain stores are commonplace, so too are closures of independent locally owned grocers, particularly in today’s hyper-challenging climate of grocery retail. Acquisitions are also a risk to the future of the grocery stores in our neighborhoods. In both cases, community consultations are not required despite the enormous repercussions a closure or acquisition may have on food access, health, community and economy. If it’s merely a change in ownership, the unique characteristics that may have set a store or chain apart often erode into the culture of the acquiring chain. The accountability and commitment to the community often goes with it.

What defines a consumer food co-op? Rather than any one individual or company owning the grocery store, consumer food co-ops spread ownership out to however many people want to become a shareholder.

In August 2019, Musser’s Markets, with three locations in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, was acquired by Giant (a subsidiary of the Dutch multinational Ahold Delhaize.) This followed Giant’s single store acquisition in May of Ferguson & Hassler in Quarryville and prior to that, Darrenkamp’s in Willow Valley in September 2018.

In January 2019, the Long Island-based King Kullen (c. 1930) with 32 locations and its independent subsidiary Wild by Nature with five locations were acquired by Stop & Shop (also a subsidiary of Ahold Delhaize.)

In 2015, Chicago’s Mariano’s, with 44 locations, was acquired by Kroger. The culture change at Mariano’s is not going unnoticed. An August 2019 article in Crain’s Chicago Business magazine reads, “Is Kroger ruining Mariano’s?”

So where can eaters find greater assurance in the future of their grocery stores? My research and experience within the food system leads me to only one model. That is the consumer cooperative—food co-ops—full-service grocery stores collectively owned by their customers.

Here’s why:

There have been zero instances of a food co-op in America being acquired by a chain grocer. Why not? It would first require a vote by the co-op’s thousands of shareholders who would be asked to decide on whether or not to sell the store. It’s true that there are examples of food co-ops closing, but any decision to change the ownership of a cooperatively owned grocery store is a democratic one, made by the people who would be most affected by the decision: eaters and workers—us! Community consultations on the future of neighborhood grocery stores are built directly into the cooperative model of ownership.

What defines a consumer food co-op? Rather than any one individual or company owning the grocery store, consumer food co-ops spread ownership out to however many people want to become a shareholder. There are no limits to who can become a shareholder nor how many shareholders can co-own the store. Better yet, no one shareholder has any more voting power than another. Each share in the co-op is equal to one vote and each shareholder is limited to one voting share. Once a year, shareholders in a food co-op will vote for their board of directors to govern the co-op. Co-ops democratize the economy.

We’ve generally placed any business or service that a community deems ‘essential’ into an entirely different category of oversight, scrutiny and expectations. Public transit, public libraries, community centers, drinking water, roads and first responders are generally stewarded by public agencies and institutions. They’re simply far too important to leave entirely in the hands of the private sector. Is food deserving of the same attention? Co-ops, particularly consumer co-ops, are effectively public institutions. They build accountability to the community directly into the ownership model. They allow the public to steward the food system from the primary point of convergence between eaters and the system—at the grocery store.

While a food co-op may in practice be a for-profit business, by virtue of their ownership model, they operate far more along the lines of a nonprofit businesses. Every dollar of profit generated at a co-op is channeled into one of two directions—back into improving the business or returned to shareholders in the form of dividends proportional to the level of purchases a shareholder made over the previous year. As a shareholder of a food co-op, I’ve received checks as low as $10 to as high as $50 at the end of the year. These dividends are essentially the grocer saying to its customers, “sorry, we charged you too much this year, here’s how much we overcharged you.”

The recirculating effect of a food dollar spent at a food co-op doesn’t end with the distribution of profits. At a cooperatively owned grocer, the head office is not only in the community served by the co-op, it’s almost always located directly inside the store itself. With the head office located inside the store, the co-op grocery store becomes home to more jobs, including more full-time positions. Marketing managers, human resources, finance, outreach, any positions that would otherwise be located at a distant head office are instead located within the community. Over 180 people are employed at my food co-op, almost 100 of them full time. The largest chain grocer operating in my city claims 150 employees. Then there are the third-party services a cooperatively owned grocer will utilize. This translates into more of our grocery dollars circulating into local businesses that in turn re-circulate those dollars locally.

Today, 230 co-ops operate over 300 locations in the United States. Another 100 are in various stages of development. The food co-op movement is expanding and evolving. Of the 144 new food co-ops that have opened in the past 11 years, 72% of them have weathered the challenging grocery retail climate and have remained open.  Nationwide, interest in food co-ops is spreading beyond consumers of organic and local foods. All types of communities, including those in designated food deserts, are turning to this model of grocery store ownership to secure a more promising future for their communities.


Truckload Sale – November 2019

Return orders by November 9th

Order pick-up November 16th 10-4PM

How it Works:

Step One

Pick up an order form at the Co+op or download one here.

Step Two

Fill out the order form and be sure to include your NAME, TELEPHONE, EMAIL & OWNERSHIP.

  • By placing your email on this sheet, you agree to receive mail from the Co+op about the TruckLoad Sale & other special promotions.

Step Three

Return completed order form by 9 PM on November 9th to the cash registers at the Co+op, or scan and email to  Subject line should read: “TRUCKLOAD SALE 11/16 – LAST NAME”

Step Four

Come pick up & pay for your order in the Co+op Warehouse on November 16 from 10 am to 4 pm. We accept cash, local checks & all major credit cards.

* Please note All sales final. No returns will be accepted. No other discounts will apply to any Truckload Sale items.

Fire Cider is Free of Copyright Restrictions

The future of ‘fire cider’ is decided and the term is now legally determined to be free for all to use.


The “Fire Cider 3”, Kathi Langelier of Herbal Revolution, (ME)  Mary Blue of Farmacy Herbs (RI) and Nicole Telkes of Wildflower School of Botanical Medicine, (TX) have had their day in court!!  The trial lasted 9 days and was a huge effort by many involved!! Judge Mastroianni of Springfield, MA federal court has determined in a 40-page decision that fire cider is a generic term!!
Their trial started during the Spring Equinox with the moon in Libra and we ended with the Fall Equinox with the Sun in Libra… LIBRA is JUSTICE!!!

Read more here: We Won! Fire Cider is Generic

Mother Earth Food and French Broad Food Co-Op Partner Together To Deliver Local Food and Goods

Mother Earth Food and French Broad Food Co-Op Partner Together To Deliver Local Food and Goods

Groceries from the Co-op Along with Local and Organic Produce from Regional Farmers  Now Delivered to Homes 

Mother Earth Food & French Broad Food Co-op Logos
For more information: Gretchen Howard Iron Skillet Media 828-231-3594

ASHEVILLE, NC (September 24, 2019) – Mother Earth Food and French Broad Food Co-Op announce a new partnership that brings local foods and products the Asheville community knows and loves directly to front doorsteps. Mother Earth Food sources the healthiest options from over 50 regional farms and local food artisans for weekly deliveries in the Asheville area – like a farmer’s market on wheels – and now offers over 175 of French Broad Food Co-Op’s products for delivery, with more choices available in the near future.

“With so many options for sourcing groceries and fresh produce, our goal is to make the choice of buying local as convenient as possible while supporting regional farmers and businesses in our local food culture,” says Janelle Tatum, CEO at Mother Earth Foods. “French Broad Food Co-Op has already been doing this for nearly 45 years, and we are excited to pair our missions.”

Tatum also says they’re hoping the convenience of shopping for French Broad Food Co-Op groceries online will encourage shoppers who might otherwise be deterred by traffic congestion and limited parking to buy local food.

Mother Earth Food’s delivery process is simple and efficient. Customers sign up for the service at and order weekly customizable produce bins and groceries by noon every Tuesday. Mother Earth Food does the rest – picking up local foods and products from as close to home as possible and delivering them on customer’s scheduled delivery day.

For more information and to sign up for the service, visit or call 828-275-3500.

Co-op FAQs and Facts

Co-op Stronger Together

What is a Co-op?


How can I distinguish a co-op from other organizations?

A co-op is a business, usually incorporated, that sells goods and services. It is not a charitable organization or a social service agency.

Who benefits from the co-op’s existence?

A co-op exists primarily for the benefit of its members. Many co-ops also support other parts of the community through various programs and philanthropic activities as part of their commitment to cooperative values and principles.

Who controls a co-op?

In a cooperative, members democratically control the direction of the business. In most co-ops each member gets one vote. Members elect a board of directors to monitor the business, set goals and hire management to operate their business. Ultimately, the board is accountable to the members for its decisions.

What motivates people to form a co-op?

In private or stockholder-owned businesses, individuals invest to earn a financial return. In a co-op, individuals are motivated by a shared need for certain products or services. By joining together, members gain access to products, services or markets not otherwise available to them. In other words, when forming a co-op members are motivated to become co-owners of the business primarily so that their mutual needs can be met. And co-ops return financial gains to their members, whether through discounts, lower costs or patronage refunds. People join existing co-ops for a variety of reasons. Whether it is the commitment to community, the democratic approach to business, the desire to be part of a business that is locally owned or something else “uniquely co-op” that appeals, anyone can join a cooperative!

Read more on Co-op Stronger Together:

Common Myths About Food Co-ops

Co-op Stronger Together

Common Myths About Food Co-ops

For food lovers on the hunt for fresh local produce and healthy, sustainable products, the local food co-op may be a hidden gem. Why hidden, you ask? Many people, including co-op shoppers, are not entirely sure how co-ops work—or how to get involved. Luckily, the most common misconceptions can be cleared up in a snap. Read on to get the real answers to frequently asked questions about food co-ops. You may be surprised by what you find!

Myth #1

I have to be a member to shop at the food co-op.

Everyone is welcome to shop at nearly all co-ops. Just do your shopping like you would anywhere else. Once you’ve discovered the benefits of co-op shopping, you might want to find out more about the benefits of membership, too.

Myth #2

I have to be a hippie/liberal/vegetarian/etc. to shop at the co-op.

Same answer: everyone’s welcome. Liberal or conservative, hippie or yuppie, veggie lover or bacon lover—anyone can shop co-op (that means you!).

Myth #3

Being a co-op member means I have to join the board (or work part-time at the co-op, or do something else I’m not really sure I want to do).

All you really have to do is enjoy shopping at the co-op! Sure, you can run for the board or participate in co-op events if you like, but your level of participation is always entirely up to you.

Read more myths about food co-ops on Co-op Stronger Together at 

Tell The World You Own It!

Co-op Stronger Together

Tell the World You Own It


You may be surprised by all the types of co-ops around you. From groceries to health care, co-ops are a vital part of everyday life for people all over the globe. Consider the cup of coffee you enjoyed at breakfast. It was likely purchased from a coffee grower co-op in Africa or Central America. Or the light fixture you’re standing under might be powered with electricity from a co-op owned by people in your community.

A co-op is a business model that allows a group of people to combine their resources to meet their common needs. Grocery co-ops are one such kind of co-op. They are the true pioneers of the natural and organic food industry and they’re deeply committed to providing delicious, high quality, healthy food; supporting local, sustainable agriculture; and strengthening their communities. Cooperatives, including grocery co-ops, are much more than bricks and mortar stores. Cooperatives are built on the idea that local owners, not far-away investors, gain the benefits of business success. Simply put, cooperation is for everyone.

Read more on Co-op Stronger Together:


I Own a Grocery Store with Some Friends

Co-op Stronger Together

I Own a Grocery Store with Some Friends

I am probably the last person you would expect to own a grocery store, and yet, I do. In fact, I own three. I am a Midwestern, married suburban mother of two, my car is twelve years old and most of my fashion finds come from the thrift store. I don’t fit the bill for corporate honcho, and my bank account corroborates that truth.

So how do I manage to own not one but three successful grocery stores? I guess in true “industry disruptor” style, I found a unique solution to a common problem: how to get the kind of food I want, and have my voice heard by a place where I shop. That solution is food co-ops. My local food co-op offers me fresh local food, a way to support my community and the opportunity to invest in the co-op, ensuring it remains a resource in our community for good.

Read more here:

You Are the Co-op Difference

Co-op Stronger Together

You are the reason food co‑ops are here


Food co-ops were formed by people in your community who wanted access to healthy, delicious food with reduced environmental impact and less waste, and co-ops remain community-owned and operated to this day. You help co-ops continue this proud tradition every time you choose to shop at one, invest in ownership or tell a friend about your local food co-op. You are the co-op difference.

Thanks to co-op shopper support, local farmers and producers continue to have a market for their delicious food, organic agriculture continues to grow, local food pantries and nonprofit organizations have a strong partner and together we are making progress towards a fairer food system.

People like you make it happen. When you shop at the co-op, your money makes a bigger impact in your local community than at a typical grocery store. At the co-op, your food dollars work to support a robust local economy, a vibrant community and a healthy environment.

Read more here: