Stop by the Iowa Food Cooperative (IFC) on alternate Thursdays and you will see the “scramble” in action. What’s getting scrambled is the result of hundreds of local food enthusiasts, who create custom food orders on the co-op’s website. Iowa farmer producers deliver a bounty of vegetables, eggs, meat, dairy products, baked goods, sauces and more to fill these orders over a day and a half. The scramble begins at 2 p.m. Thursday when all the deliveries are quickly reorganized so consumer buyers can receive their individual orders as early as 4 p.m.
Ryan Marquadt, IFC general manager, will tell you just how much fun a team of mostly volunteers have on the scramble days. Not only is it a challenge, it supports Iowans who care about where their food comes from and how it’s produced. Located on Franklin Street in the Merle Hay neighborhood of Des Moines, the IFC is in its 11th year of operation.
As a producer member for over ten years, past board president, and now the general manager since March, Marquadt is well equipped to lead this effort to build a food community. Along with his wife, Janice, and their two children the Marquadts are 5th generation famers near Van Meter. In their farm operation, Wild Rose Pastures, they provide pasture raised, chemical-free and antibiotic-free turkeys, broiler chickens, eggs, and grass-fed beef at the IFC on-line store.
“As farmers markets are ending their season, the IFC continues year-round access to hundreds of food and non-food products directly from Iowa farmers and artisans,” states Marquadt. He adds, “This is a tremendous opportunity for Iowans to support fellow Iowans in eating quality local foods.”
Facts about the impact of the Iowa Food Cooperative in Iowa:
- All of our products are sold by producers who have grown, made, or raised each item
- 1,600 different products are offered for sale
- The top 4 selling items are eggs, ground beef, yogurt and leafy greens
- We offer 10 different distribution sites for consumers to pick up their order
- Over 300 farmer producers and 1400 consumer buyers are members
- Producers provide profiles that describe their production practices
- Annually over $400,000 in sales occur at the cooperative
- 82.5% of the purchase price goes straight to our farmer-owners
- We have 8 part-time staff and 60 volunteers; both are essential to the success of the cooperative
- We help protect Iowa’s air, water, soil and wildlife by supporting farming practices that enhance the environment