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-op; Prairie 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
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.