2016 End of Year Note


Dear Friends,

Last year at this time, I shared a reflection about stories, and how becoming part of a food co-op makes you more than the follower of a story -- it makes you a part of it, one of the heroes.

We were coming to the end of a challenging year in Chicago -- a tough election (remember when the mayoral election was the big political debate?), concerns about violence, racism, education, finances -- and a general feeling that the city wasn't pulling together as one. The City of Big Shoulders felt like it was...shrugging. 

I shared my belief that real change happens through building community, block by block, neighbor by neighbor, table by table. This is what co-ops do, and they do it with a model that works.*  

As 2016 comes to a close and we've moved on the national level from shrugging to some kind of convulsing, I come back to these words and realize they're more true now than ever. When the storms outside chase us in, when the conversation turns to shouting instead of listening, when we start to feel we've lost touch with a shared purpose and respect for those who think differently than we do...then it's time to start connecting.

The greatest gift that being an Owner of Chicago Market has brought me is this gift of new connections. Sure, I had friends and family and neighbors before joining the co-op -- you do, too -- but creating positive change means growing beyond our bubbles.

So now I'm connected to Grant. He's a photographer. He's a blues player. He's a kayaker. He knows a lot about farms. And I'm connected to Lisa, who derbies. And Maria, who reads. And Kelly who cooks, and Dan who bikes and Lee who folk-musics and Annette who writes and Heather who tiki-bars and Linn who glöggs and Liat who preserves and Bill who builds. 

These connections are already adding joy to all our lives. We're having more fun, doing things we care about, together. We're eating and cooking great food together. And we're building community with a shared purpose: we're going to open a food co-operative here that helps farmers grow, helps families live healthy lives in a healthy world, helps our local economy thrive, and helps us keep connecting with each other.

It's been a year of learning that connections -- who grows our food, who sells it, who shops with us, rides the bus with us, shovels the snow with us, plays with us, prays with us, votes with us, who stubbornly hangs in there loving Chicago and loving America and loving the world with us, despite it all -- well, those connections are what matters.

Being part of a co-op means Committing to Connecting. It's democracy the way it *really* works, where we have shared values but different ideas and needs and we get to know each other, talk, listen, organize to work all that out so we can live those values anyhow. There's no "corporations are people," and no "fake news." No gerrymandering, filibustering or disenfranchising. There's just 1 person, 1 vote and 1+1+1+1+1+...expanding our circle and practicing democracy, trust and optimism. We work these muscles and we know we're gonna build this thing that matters, together. And then we're gonna have a place to grow from and build other things that matter. 

We need you to join us. Landlords and banks tell us that we need a bigger Owner base to ensure our best site deal and our financial future. You can become a lifetime Founding Owner for only $250 (or even a $25/month installment plan). You can join us here online. Or send us an email

There are tangible benefits, of course. And there are also so many joyful, meaningful connections.   

Through the end of this year, we are campaigning for 50 new Owners and if we hit our goal, we'll give away gifts from another friendly co-op: an REI Gift Card ($50 value) and an REI co-op membership ($20 value). Come co-operate with us and get really good at democracy. Join our co-op

I wish us all light, love and local for the holiday season!

Karen Jacobs, Board of Directors


*Food co-ops spend more revenues locally, buy more products locally, buy more organic produce, recycle more plastic, and create more jobs than conventional grocers. For every $1,000 spent at a food co-op, $1,606 goes to the local economy; for every $1 million in sales, 9.3 jobs are created (Yes! Magazine, 2013). 

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The Future of Food

Chicago Market Owner #148 and writer Annette Mambuca joined  food writers, policy wonks, activists, culinary professionals and everyday foodies at a one-day conference on "The Future of Food," sponsored by Edible magazine this October. She found a few other Chicago Market Owners there, too! Here's her terrific summary of what they learned.

So what does the future hold?

If you’re a Chicago Market Owner, the answer is clear. Sustainable. Local. Transparently sourced. Community-minded. Equitable. Delicious (natch!).

Our co-op may be well on the way to amending some local ills, but nationally and globally there are still some fairly formidable forces to overcome.




* Americans waste 40% of food grown and purchased, yet one in seven Americans visit a food bank weekly

* 1 in 8 people worldwide do not get enough food

* 90% of our table fish have been taken out of the ocean and 40% of fish caught are wasted (“accidentally” caught and then tossed by commercial operations)

* Lobbyists touting less-food-friendly policies wield tremendous political power

* Technology, while inherently good, has advantaged and advanced multinational food operations and global distribution channels

* Human labor and animal welfare abuses abound 

As the day’s speakers testified, our individual food habits and decisions matter decisively, both in terms of helping the planet, as well as sharing our perspective and knowledge with unlike-minded folks in our local sphere of influence. And of course, the future of food is also reliant on the government policies and corporate decisions our actions and activism help to drive.

Keynoter Katherine Miller, Director of the Chef Action Network, a Food Policy Advocacy program of the James Beard Foundation opened the meeting with another potent reminder: “Food is essential to life, but it is also essential to economies. Local food sales totaled an estimate of $6.1 billion in 2012. In some places, local demand is outstripping our ability to provide it in a local way.”

That fact prompts an apt comment from Chicago Market's Board President and Owner #3, Grant Kessler.

“If you’re concerned about the future of food and the planet…if you want to make and help others make better environmental decisions…if you want to keep good jobs and money in our community…joining Chicago Market is the opportunity for you and all of us to make a positive contribution to the future right here in Chicago.”

As important as local is to the conversation, systemic change means we need corporations and industry at the table as well. Given their scope, they hold serious keys to sustainably feeding the 9.7 billion people that will be on the planet in 2050.

Good things are happening in that regard. As reported in the New York Times, McDonald’s decision to phase out the use of eggs housed in cages – partly the result of consumer pressure – has multiple downstream implications. Those include several states enacting regulations on how laying hens are kept, fast-food rivals and other food suppliers considering similar changes and the eventual reduction in the price of cage-free eggs sold to consumers.

Chicago Market Owner #619 and CEO of Next Bites Eloise Karlatiras, who was part of the panel discussion, “In Pursuit of Protein,” believes that individual efforts can prod large-scale change.

“I think millennials will play a huge role in imagining and contributing to a new domestic economy that supports healthy, sustainable and equitable food production,” she says.

“People may think they have little control over the direction of our food system. But humans have always sought out innovative answers to complex questions. Together, we can gently shift the way we connect with food and the ways in which it is grown and raised.”

The day ended with a wine tasting by sustainable vintner Christopher Silva from St. Francis Winery, so it seems fitting to end this article with a toast to “the future of food.”


Looking for more about "The Future of Food"? Check out these other organizations, articles and books featured at the conference.
Telling our Stories
Edible Communities Publications
Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky
Life of a Strawberry
Cage-free eggs
Policy advocacy
James Beard Foundation Chef’s Book Camp for Policy & Change
Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Food Democracy Now
St. Francis Winery
Food-Conscious Businesses, Activists and Venture Capitalists
Eloise Karlatiras, CEO, Next Bites
Bruce Sherman, Chef, North Pond
S2G Ventures
Beyond Meat: The Future of Protein
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December 2016 Board Meeting Minutes

Public Board Minutes for 12/14/16

Present: Anthony, Dan, Grant, Lizzy, Mark (left at 8pm), Emily, Jen, Greg, Larry
Absent: Heather, Karen, Kelly, Mike, Bill, Linn
Guest: Lee Herman
Location: Cafe Chien
Notes: Lizzy
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You can help us grow Chicago Market


Chicago Market needs 1500 Owners to put ourselves in a position that secures a site and our financial future.

We're looking for 50 new Owners between now and the end of 2016, with our #cooplove campaign.

Here are easy things you can do to help now  (and be entered to win some cool prizes, too!)



Invite your Facebook friends to Like our Page

The more "likes" a page has, the more Facebook will promote it to new audiences. Ask your friends to "like" our page - of course, they can opt in or not. If they do, they'll see us in their newsfeed, but we'll increase our reach to other audiences, too.

1. Navigate to the Chicago Market Facebook page here.

2. In the right column, click on "Invite Friends to like this page"

3. Choose "Chicago friends" to sort the list and scroll down, click everyone who might like to know about us. Done!



Participate in our Tag 5 Tuesdays on Facebook

Each Tuesday in December, share our "Tag 5 Tuesdays" post on Facebook and tag Chicago Market (@chicagocooperative) + 5 friends on Facebook who might want to know about us. You'll be entered into a drawing for some fun Chicago Market merchandise.



Get a Chicago Market Yard Sign (or other Chicago Market merchandise)

Get a handsome yard sign and show off your #cooplove in your yard, window, flower box... Wear our cool t-shirts. Carry a Chicago Market water bottle. You can order all of these here. If you're an Owner, you are entitled to a free totebag (if you don't have yours yet, let us know and we'll get it to you pronto!) and you can buy more...They make great accessories for farmers market visits and #shoppinglocal.



Give the Gift of Ownership

Is there someone in your life who would appreciate being part of our community? You can buy their Ownership for them as a gift. We'll put it in a pretty envelope and deliver it to you (or them) in time for the holidays, or you can add some extra fun by purchasing it in a gift basket with other Chicago Market goodies.

If we get to our goal of 50 new Owners by December 31, we'll have an REI gift card ($50 value) and an REI co-op membership ($20 value) to give away to one of these new Owners, too!



Ask us for Chicago Market pamphlets, posters, postcards, email templates

Do you work or play someplace where you can put out pamphlets or a poster? Folks you know would like to talk to us, but not sure how to make the introduction? We'll give you a sweet holiday postcard to mail, or some email ideas you can copy/paste into your own messages. Just ask



Got another idea? Want to host an event, or volunteer? Send us a note. We can't wait to hear from you! 



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Food Tank Summit

On November 16th, the inaugural Food Tank Chicago Summit took place, convening thought leaders from the food and agricultural fields. With the theme of “We Can Change the Food System”, the Summit featured researchers, farmers, chefs, policy makers, and government officials from across the country working on local and international food issues. Food Tank hosted their first summit last year in DC and with their vision to build a global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters, has since expanded to hosting summits throughout the year in Boston, Sacramento, and Brazil.

Chicago Market was well-represented - Owners Harry Rhodes of Growing Home and Karen Lehman of Fresh Taste were speakers, and Linn Austin, Board member, and Sofia Jouravel, grocery team volunteer attended. We asked Sofia to tell us about the day.

Sofia and Linn

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Board Changes

Chicago Market's Board of Directors is sad to see a longtime member go. But we're happy to welcome the co-op's founder back to a role on the Board. 

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November 2016 Board Meeting Minutes

Public Board Minutes for 11/16/16

Public Minutes for Chicago Market Board Meeting of 11/16/16
7 p.m.
Emily's house
Present: Bill, Greg, Dan, Grant, Karen, Jen, Larry, Mike, Heather, Emily, Linn
Absent: Anthony, Kelly, Mark, Lizzy
Guest: Lee Herman
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October 2016 Board Meeting Minutes

Public Board Minutes from 10/26/16

Present:  Mark, Mike, Dan, Grant, Lizzy, Emily, Kelly, Anthony, Greg, Linn, Larry, Bill  (and two owners - Molly Milne, Adam Widera)
Notes: Anthony and Emily
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Visit to Windy City Greens

We visited Windy City Greens in Pilsen this week, a sustainable hydroponic vertical farm that grows micro greens, herbs, lettuces and edible flowers. WCG_Kessler_2641.jpg

The Windy City Greens team: Krystal Hernandez, P.J. Mazza and Daniel Jarvis.

You'll get your chance to meet them too and take home some of their delicious greens at our Thanksgiving Co-op Pop-Up Market on November 19.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Hillary Stifler

Chicago Market Owner #523 Hillary Stifler is one of those people who does so much, and all of it with such a calm, smiling demeanor, that it makes the rest of us wonder what her secret is. Having completed her fourth (!) triathlon this summer, she took a few minutes to let us shine our Volunteer Spotlight her way.

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