Curious about the values that will guide how we stock Chicago Market's shelves? Here is the complete text of our Purchasing Values, created with input from our Owners, members of our Grocery Logistics and Retail Procurement (GLRP) team, farmers and other community members:
§ We are delicious: We have a passion for great-tasting foods. As a mission-driven market, we have values that determine what fills our shelves. Above all else, we strive to make every item delicious. Whether shoppers prefer beets or broccoli, they can count on Chicago Market to curate the most-delicious foods from our foodshed. Our focus on locally sourced products is not just a core value, it will also ensure our produce is picked at its ripest. That means it gets to Chicago Market quickly, and our shelves are stocked with the freshest and most- delicious food available.
Chicago Market will offer a variety of fresh and prepared foods, which will cater to our diverse set of Owners and shoppers. We will be adaptive and responsive to the preferences of our shoppers, frequently reevaluating what products we carry. Chicago Market is also focused on supporting local entrepreneurs as they perfect their products and will support farmers and artisans from the area in bringing new and great-tasting items to market.
We will also offer multiple hands-on opportunities where shoppers can experiment and get creative. There will often be outlets for shoppers to taste new things and try different preparation techniques, which could potentially expand their definition of "delicious."
Food has always been about more than just nourishment; it's about community and the simple joys of breaking bread with others. At Chicago Market, we encourage the communal aspect -- whether by sharing recipes or sharing a table -- and the delicious food we carry is the foundation on which this deeper community is built.
§ We are transparent: We buy from suppliers who are transparent about their sources and production methods. Nutrition and ingredient labels merely scratch the surface of what we want to know about our food. Where was it made? By whom? What processes and production methods were used? What principles, such as resource usage or animal welfare, are the producers following that may match our own? Chicago Market shoppers will have access to this information so they can make choices that support the farmers and producers that match their preferences.
We will connect farmers and producers to shoppers in multiple ways: aisle signage, farm visits and open houses, in-person events, profiles on social media and our newsletters. Our suppliers will be able to communicate to our shoppers about what they do, finding their target customers more easily by being open about what they are making and how.
Our Owners and shoppers are as diverse as the food we put on the shelves, and we will give them information so they can make food choices based on their own preferences. A carnivore wanting humanely raised pork and a vegan looking to avoid animal testing in cosmetics will have the opportunity to learn more about products carried in Chicago Market and buy items that align with their beliefs.
§ We are sustainable: We source organic and sustainably farmed and manufactured products. At Chicago Market, we respect the environment and recycle, reuse and reduce our waste whenever possible. We also expect the suppliers of all our products to be open and honest about their environmental practices. To earn a spot on our shelves, producers must show commitment to a triple-bottom line: People, Planet and Profit. If we don’t feel they are working to improve the world in some way, we won’t stock their products.
We are always learning more about how decisions we make today affect us in the future. We look to our Chicago Market community of Owners, farmers and producers to educate each other about the latest sustainability trends and issues. Chicago Market isn't temporary; generations of shoppers will find community, sustenance and education here.
§ We are local: We source from the breadth, depth and variety of Midwest food. We actively seek out and champion growers and artisanal manufacturers who share our purchasing values and who are located within 150 miles of our store. We consider any business that fits this description as “local” because:
1. We believe businesses within this area have the most-direct impact on the local economy, and are most aligned with our desire to create an honest, economical, profitable and self-sustaining food-supply chain and ecosystem in Northeast Illinois;
2. We believe businesses closer to home give our Owners the best chance to personally meet and get to know more intimately the suppliers of their food -- a desire they consistently express;
3. We believe our business model is most-efficient and our product freshest when vendors can deliver directly to our store with minimal additional handling and storage, plus, our vendors are happiest when they can hand-deliver their product to market and still get home in time for dinner; and
4. The radius is wide enough to encompass the variety and diversity of the foods grown around the southern horn of Lake Michigan.
We acknowledge, because of climate or seasonality or our intent to offer a complete line of groceries, there are times we must source outside of our local radius. In these cases, we will go to great lengths to curate the finest selection of high-quality, great-tasting products grown or manufactured as close to home as possible and within the states of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa. Product from within these states is how we define "regional." Sourcing from our neighboring states keeps the drive to market within a day and feels close enough to still feel connected to the person feeding your family.
Finally, for those products that are perishable, we will preserve them so you may enjoy the freshness and diversity of our local harvests throughout the year and beyond the peak of the season.
We are socially responsible: We build relationships with vendors whose business practices support the environment, the community and fair labor. Being socially responsible at Chicago Market means we consider what practices are part of our supply chain as we source the products that stock our shelves. Our suppliers raise crops in ways that nurture and protect the soil, air and waterways while caring for their farm workers and providing a fair wage. Their animals are treated humanely from birth to processing.
We will promote farmers and suppliers in the store that share our values, and provide information to shoppers about who they are supporting with their food dollars. We will work with suppliers to establish fair rates to work towards affordable prices for our customers. Chicago Market will also support local entrepreneurs as they perfect their productsand will support farmers and artisans from the area in bringing new products to market, thereby supporting the local economy.
It is our mission to nourish consumers while also providing equitable pay for our workers and those who produce our products, while bearing in mind the effects our actions have on the local economy and environment.
We are yours: Our purchasing values reflect the values of our community. As a Chicago Market Owner, you have a say in the total operation of the co-op. You elect our Board of Directors, approve our Bylaws and all other aspects of our operation. All major decisions are fully discussed and voted on at annual Owner’s meetings. Your input is encouraged and valued. Your participation is essential in creating and sustaining a cooperative community that offers the best products and services available in Chicago. In short, you own Chicago Market; it is yours.