Mapping a Modern Mississippi < Places < Rainbow Co-Op

Rainbow Co-Op

The idea for Rainbow Co-Op began in 1976, when three local families were looking for healthy alternatives to fast food. They volunteered their time to cook nutritious meals and show others how to do the same. No health food stores in the area would give them a discount for the products they needed for these meals, so they started the Alexandrian Center Natural Food Buying Club to get better prices on organic foods. The club quickly grew to 150 families.
The club moved to the basement of the YMCA and changed its name to Under the Rainbow after the overhead pipes that were painted the colors of the rainbow. It became so large that in 1979, it opened a small storefront and contacted other buying clubs in the area to join forces and become a co-op. They organized weekly meetings, defined their goals and vision, drew up bylaws, wrote the charter and registered as the agricultural association Rainbow Whole Foods, Inc.
In May 1980, Rainbow Whole Foods Cooperative Grocery opened its doors and has been growing steadily ever since. In 2010, Rainbow became a consumer cooperative, which is democratically governed and allows any member of the community to buy ownership and hold rights as a shareholder.

The Stories

I feel Rainbow Co-Op is modern. Foods free of GMOs are the way to go!

Credit to: Perry Dunn

Jackson Rising: Shelby Parsons from Deep Dish TV on Vimeo. Shelby Parsons explains how Rainbow Co-Op dares to be different!

Credit to: Deep Dish TV

Shoppers looking for organic and locally sourced food are familiar with the unassuming little grocery on Old Canton Road in Fondren. Mostly, they just call it Rainbow.

Until Whole Foods Market opened earlier this year, Rainbow Co-op was Jackson's only food store focused solely on organic and natural products.

Inside Rainbow Plaza, shoppers will also find High Noon Cafe (the city's only all-vegetarian eatery), a co-op that provides computer access, parts and repairs, and a store selling fair-trade goods from around the world. The ATM in the common area is from Hope Credit Union, also a cooperative, and recycling bins are plentiful.

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Credit to: Ronni Mott, The Jackson Free Press

I meet Patrick Jerome, Outreach Coordinator for Rainbow Co-Operative, at High Noon, the vegetarian/vegan cafe adjacent to the grocery store. It’s Mexican day, and that means I get to have the nacho salad. Jerome has to pause our interview a couple of times to go assist customers or take photos of produce for the social media posts of the day. This gives me a chance to devour my salad, so I don’t complain.

“So, what is a Co-Op?” I ask. Jerome breaks it down this way: “There’s lots of types of co-ops… we are a consumer co-op; member-owned. We are owned by the members that purchase shares – kind of like a conventional company, but every person can only buy one share. Whenever there are windfall profits, we split them amongst the shareholders; unlike in other companies, the shareholders get to make decisions on the composition of the board of directors, long-term goals of the company, things like that.”...

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Credit to: Andi Agnew, Find It In Fondren

As a child I loved junk food. As an adult, I still love junk food. It is the junk food that does not seem to love me these days. Before, I could live off a steady rotation of cinnamon toast crunch, oatmeal cream pies, and cheese-its, but now, at 27, the same food leaves me sluggish and in need of a new wardrobe a couple of sizes larger.

Over time, I have had a growing love for more natural ingredients. There is something so natural and logical about eating food with one ingredient. An apple is just an apple. A banana is just a banana. An orange is just an orange. And there is a magical dance of the tastebuds when you combine them! These days I rarely go a day without a smoothie, but I have yet to invest in a juicer and always like to keep tabs on a nearby juice bar...

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Credit to: Eat Jackson

Organic is modern and the way to go.

Credit to: Perry Dunn

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