‘Dinner in a Field’ part of push to promote local foods

Posted at 10:21 PM, Oct 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-12 00:21:08-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Wasatch Cooperative Market said Friday night’s ‘Dinner in a Field’ was a huge success.

Board member Michael Jeppesen said attendees feasted on locally-grown, natural foods prepared by local chefs.

“We got local beef, pork that’s local, lots of vegetables that are local,” Jeppesen said. “And even some great desserts that are local.”

More importantly, the dinner boosted the co-op’s membership to nearly 300 members, the mark at which the organization will conduct a feasibility study that will be used to determine the best location for a local foods market in the Salt Lake City area.

“It will be entirely different than anything anybody’s seen,” Jeppesen said. “People will love shopping at the co-op.”

And it’s about time said Stuart Reid, executive director of the National Food Co-Op Initiative.

“We have a city of this size,” Reid said, speaking of Salt Lake, “it’s unusual that it doesn’t have a co-op.”

In fact, Reid said Utah is one of only two states that doesn’t have a cooperative market, and he cited a study that indicates Salt Lake City alone is capable of supporting three.

And locally-owned, local food markets, offer more than fresh food.

“Co-ops, aside from supporting the local economy, also support local service providers,” Reid said.

But building a co-op is a process, Jeppesen said. The Wasatch Cooperative Market was launched four years ago and still doesn’t have a grocery store to call home.

“Typically, it takes seven to 10 years of this grassroots effort to actually open the doors of a co-op because we don’t start with any capital,” Jeppesen said. “So we’re getting members to support us; to say, ‘Yes we will shop there. We will support this idea.’”