Phoenix Earth Food Co-Op recently celebrated a milestone. The local grocery store has been serving the Toledo community for thirty years with a full line of organic products to meet the increasing demand for healthy, non-GMO foods.
“The co-op was originally started by a handful of people over thirty years ago,” explained Sean Fitzgerald, general manager. “The original name was Earth Food Co-Op. That eventually closed down and was restarted with the name Phoenix Earth Food Co-Op, as in the rising of the Phoenix. It was started by another handful of people with the intention for healthier food.”
The co-op has no owners or CEOs. Instead, it is owned by members, with a board of directors overseeing operations.
“We have a very small staff that is truly like family,” Fitzgerald said. “You do not have to be a member to shop at the co-op, though. We are completely open to the public, and always have been.”
As a father of two daughters (ages 20 and 14), Fitzgerald understands the needs of families hoping to stretch their budget. With the rising cost of groceries, he sees the co-op as a viable alternative.
“I think a great option is to purchase bulk goods when possible,” he said. “We sell dozens of different dried beans, rice, flour, grains, and dried fruit. Also, the bulk herbs and spices are all so much cheaper than buying individual jars. It’s also great because you can purchase the quantity you need, whether it be a spoonful or pounds. We welcome you to bring in your own containers to fill bulk, or we provide bags. The less waste the better!”
Some of the bulk food offerings include bulk grains, flours, granola, nut butters, dried fruits, herbs and spices.
Whenever possible, the co-op also offers locally sourced products.
“We have a wonderful local and raw honey that is especially helpful with allergies and the immune system,” Fitzgerald said. “We have local organic produce when available, and a huge selection of vegan and vegetarian grocery options. We do carry some local and/or organic meats.”
In addition, the store carries a supplement and vitamin selection, along with health and beauty products.They will also take orders for specialty items that may not be carried in store.
“We carry grocery products that are organic, non-GMO, local, free of artificial flavors and colors, and try to be very conscious of the ingredients we stock.”
Fitzgerald began his work with the co-op as a produce manager, and has served as the general manager for fourteen years. He has enjoyed his role, and looks forward to the future.
“We have some big plans in the coming years. We purchased our building after thirty years and are working on some much-needed repairs. We have a GoFundMe set up to raise funds for a mural for the side of the building, as well as painting the whole building. We also started a garden this year on the empty corner lot that we purchased through the land bank. We are highly motivated. The best is yet to come!”
Phoenix Earth Food Co-Op, 1447 W. Sylvania Ave. 419-476-3211. phoenixearthfoodco-op.com