The History and Development of Food Cooperatives as Diverse and Inclusive Centers for Food and Environmental Education


Spring 4-30-2016



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Rachel Endo

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Bryan Wood

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Jesson Hunt


The purpose of this study is to research the historical legacy and current state of food cooperatives in Minnesota, and look to the future of food cooperatives as diverse and inclusive centers for food and environmental education. It investigates, in the historical context of demographic and socioeconomic diversity, the changing community outreach, educational programs and methods employed by food cooperatives as they work to influence food and environmental behavior beyond the traditional cooperative base. The related literature review chronicles the historical, economic and social development of food cooperatives from the Nineteenth Century Industrial Revolution to the contemporary modern food movement. The mixed methods research builds upon the literature review. It expands and delves further into the physical, social and cultural history of food cooperatives and the communities they serve and their work to bring food and environmental education to diverse and underserved communities. The results from the mixed methods research are comprised of two single study reports that examine Minnesota’s environmental literacy and the lack of diverse representation of American Indians and people of color working in the food and environmental movements. The reports are utilized directionally and as an exploratory framework for three Minneapolis food cooperative case studies. The three case studies explore the physical and social history, achievements and challenges of individual food cooperatives as they engage in providing food and environmental education to ethnic and underserved communities. The studies explore the unique and parallel efforts, challenges, struggles and achievements of food cooperatives as they work to provide both healthy food and food and environmental education to an increasingly diverse population. The findings from the research indicate the importance of diversity and inclusiveness in food cooperatives and food and environmental education. Additionally, the case studies indicate that food cooperatives are evolving and becoming racial, cultural and socioeconomic reflections of the communities they serve.

Research Methodology

Case Study, Document Studies, Field Study


Community Building, Environmental Studies, Multicultural Education, Social Justice

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