Welcome to the Local Spotlight, where every month we will feature one of our favorite local providers. We’re going to try and keep it fresh by covering aspects of the local food system we may have previously overlooked, (any suggestions on the hows and who’s, dear readers, would be greatly appreciated.)Often we’ll concentrate on the six contiguous counties we call Local 6, but we’d like to cast a wider net too, and bring in all of this great state. In that spirit, let’s kick it off with a local company that does big things, the Eugene based Organically Grown Company (OGC).
Organically Grown Cooperative was founded in Eugene in 1978, by a group of local growers who understood that standing together, they would be stronger. It worked. By 1983 they were distributing outside of Eugene. In 1993 a second warehouse was opened in Portland.
In 1998 they became Oregon Tilth Organic Certified, a higher standard of certification than the USDA now provides (it was still 3 years away at the time.) Next came a warehouse in Kent, Washington, and then, in 2012, another in Gresham Oregon.
Through all this growth, OGC hasn’t lost their focus. Now known as the Organically Grown Company, they remain locally-owned, by both the regional farmers and employee shareholders.Their commitment to providing the best organic produce to stores in the Pacific Northwest has never faltered. Over 96% of the food they distributed in 2013 was organic. That’s 60,000 tons of organic produce, farmed on approximately 15,200 acres. That’s also 572,471 pounds of toxic pesticides that were kept out of our soil.
That’s positive change.
Today OGC gets produce from small to medium sized farms up and down the west coast of the US, as well as certified organic growers in British Columbia, Mexico, and around the world. They distribute to over 200 natural foods and fine foods stores.
We’re proud, here at the Co-op, to be one of the stores that carry their high-quality, often locally-grown produce. And they provide important non-local goodness too, like GROW bananas, something you may already be familiar with. Since 2005 OGC’s sale of GROW bananas have raised $745,155 that is contributed to health and educational programs in the Southern Mexico communities where they’re grown. Sustainability is of the utmost importance to OGC, as evidenced by their growing fleet of biodiesel fueled “Clean Air” certified delivery vehicles, and their commitment to waste reduction. Over the past six years OGC has reduced the waste they send to the landfill by an incredible 74%. In fact, in
2013, they diverted nearly 91% of their waste. Some of what many other companies would consider waste simply isn’t, like the 187 tons of perfectly edible, but not market-worthy, produce that was donated to the Oregon Food Bank, Food for Lane County, and other gleaner organizations. Also, in 2013 OGC donated 4% of its previous year’s net profits to over 200 schools and community organizations.
Here at the Co-op, we’re proud to be able to call the Organically Grown Company our largest provider of organic produce. They do a great service, in providing us with the things we can’t first get direct from local farmers. And they do a wonderful service to many of those local farmers too, taking produce that we can get direct, from great places like Spring Hill Farm, and putting it onto the plates of people all around Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.