Whole Foods Co-op

If you say it's wanted and needed ... the Whole Foods Co-op will build it ... and they will come.

It wasn't a hasty process; the Co-op invested in a lot of research and conversation with the community beforehand, but the new 12,500-square-foot building is open, and providing fresh healthy food to an area of town once considered a "food desert."

Homini:)/Flickr

The Whole Foods Co-op in Duluth is hoping to be WIC-certified within the next four to six weeks.

That means the Co-op will be authorized to accept vouchers from the state Women, Infants and Children program, a supplemental nutrition program that also helps provide education and nutritious foods to nursing moms and their children.

In order to comply with the rules of the program, though, the Co-op has to stock some products that their customers aren't used to seeing, and that, says store manager Sara Hannigan, is prompting a real reaction in the Co-op's customers.

ScotchBroom/Flickr

When you think "sustainable," it's not too much of a jump to local foods.

But the Whole Foods Co-op in Duluth is thinking "sustainable" in a lot of ways.  From their LEED-certified building in the Hillside neighborhood (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and the new LEED-designed building coming to West Duluth next year, the Co-op is thinking sustainable communities with the addition of some low-cost options for folks who are on federal food assistance programs and becoming a WIC vendor (a food assistance program for Women, Infants and Children).