Celebrating Good Food -- Co-op Style


The Good Food Festival is just days away, and we couldn't be more excited about this annual celebration of local farmers and food producers. Few events embody Chicago Market's mission as well as this one, which includes hands-on workshops, educational panels, plenty of opportunities to talk with farmers and food artisans, kids' activities, and, of course, lots of delicious samples.

We'll be there, at the UIC Pavilion, with representatives of the newly created Chicagoland Food Co-op Coalition. As will a long list of Chicago Market Owners who will be sharing their local-food love in a variety of ways. 


One of the guiding principles of the food co-op movement is cooperation among cooperatives. It’s also the central tenet of the Chicagoland Food Co-op Coalition, a group of Windy City area food co-ops that are in all stages of development.

While there has long been robust interest in food co-ops in a number of communities across the United States, Chicago has lagged a bit behind. For several years, Dill Pickle Food Co-op in Logan Square has been the city’s only such store.

But change is under way. Over the past couple of years, there’s been an explosion of interest in retail food co-ops in the metro Chicago area, with Sugar Beet and four others in development. One is Chicago Market, of course. Also in the works are the Rogers Park Co-opPrairie Food Co-op in west suburban Lombard; and Shared Harvest farther west in Elgin.

Organizers from all of these co-ops have been meeting and sharing information informally for the past two years. But in recent months, the co-ops decided to formalize their coalition.

“We gave ourselves a name, picked a logo, built a website, created a budget, applied as a single co-op entity to the Good Food Festival, and will be working with other co-op organizations to build a more robust co-op development organization here in Chicago,” says Gregory Berlowitz, Chicago Market founder and Board member.

By joining forces, the coalition hopes to shine a spotlight on the role of food co-ops as economic drivers in the community.

Attendees at the Good Food Festival this Saturday will get to see the hard work of the Chicagoland Food Co-op Coalition in the form of programming at the Good Food Commons — a hands-on look at the Good Food movement. Members of the co-op coalition took over the community-building portion of the Good Food Commons, recruiting 10 speakers to give 20-minute presentations about community engagement.

But that won't be Chicago Market's only presence at the Good Food Festival. Many of our Owners will be participating as well. Among them:

Diane Schmidt of Healthy Fare for Kids, speaker

Ferdia Doherty of Farmhouse, sponsoring the first-ever Craft Drink Pavilion

Kate Jakubas of Meliora K, exhibiting green cleaning products

Jennifer Worstell, speaker

Ellen Malloy of Morsel, speaker

Eloise Karlatiras of the Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition, speaker

Andrea Matson, Commons presenter

Dietrich McGaffey of Edible Alchemy, Commons partner

Kerri McClimen, discussing Grassroots Food Activism Saturday 

Peter Klein of Seedling Fruit at Localicious

Robert Finkel of Forbidden Root at Localicious

Andy Whitman of 2X Consumer Products Growth Partners, speaker

To learn more about the three-day Good Food Festival & Conference, March 19-21, and to buy tickets, please visit the event website. 


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