As is written in our mission statement, the Ashland Food Co-op is charged with selling "natural foods and quality products, emphasizing products which are locally produced, organically grown and ecologically sound."
Our ideal is to purchase wholesome, organic, local, fair trade, environmentally sensitive and socially responsible products. We also offer a full service selection of natural and gourmet products to meet our customers' needs.
The Ashland Food Co-op does not carry food products containing hydrogenated oils or artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colors, flavors, or additives unless an exception is granted by the Product Standards Committee, as outlined below.
The Ashland Food Co-op has a Product Standards Committee which upholds our product standards and maintains a bulletin board with information for members concerning product standards issues. The committee meets quarterly, and as needed, to review products submitted by buyers for exception to our stated standards, to address concerns brought by staff or general members and to otherwise work on issues relating to product standards. Exceptions to our stated product standards will be granted on a case by case basis only if all the committee members reach consensus to do so.
Exceptions may be granted for various reasons including shopper demand, notable redeeming qualities of a product, the fact that it is one-of-a-kind or meets some special need or if it is a traditional seasonal product. If an exception is granted, the committee will post signage at the point of purchase briefly stating that it is an exception and which standard was relaxed. If the committee requires that a product be removed that should not have been on the shelf, it will post signage at the point of purchase where the product used to be displayed, stating why it was removed and leave the sign up for one month.
The Product Standards Committee consists of one manager, one staff member and one general member. The term for each committee member is one year. A different manager will serve each year on a rotating basis. The staff member will be elected by staff and the general member will be a volunteer appointed by the Board of Directors (or will be a board member if a volunteer cannot be found).
Furthermore, each department has specific product standards guidelines as follows:
Provides prepared foods and bakery items using predominantly organic and minimally processed ingredients, including products that meet the needs of people with special diets. No additives are used in our deli preparations. Our meats and cheeses are hormone and antibiotic free.
Offers predominately organic produce and buys from local organic farmers whenever possible.
Meat and Seafood Department
Offers only naturally and sustainably raised meat and seafood, with no hormones or antibiotics.
Emphasizes organic products and includes fair trade and non-irradiated foods. We offer an extensive selection of organic bulk coffees, herbs and spices, grains, beans and other bulk items, including bulk body care products and household cleaners. This supports our ideal of minimizing packaging and waste. All our bulk coffee is fair-trade, shade grown and organic.
Offers clean packaged items that are free of artificial sweeteners, preservatives, additives, colors and flavors and hydrogenated oils. We offer organic and non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) alternatives whenever possible. Our dairy products are rBGH (bovine growth hormone) - free.
Emphasizes all-natural, local, artisan and organic baked goods.
Offers all-natural, organic and hand-crafted artisan cheeses from independently owned small creameries and co-ops from our region and around the world.
Beer and Wine Department
Features hand-selected beverages from our region and abroad.
Supports fair trade importers and local vendors as much as possible.
Body Care Department
Offers botanically based, cruelty free products.
Looks for companies that can provide third party product testing to validate label claims and guarantee quality and purity.