Upcoming Dates

July 18

The first meeting of a new Chicago Market Book Club will take place at the Lakewood-Balmoral home of Owner #490, Lee Herman. Go to our Owners-Only Facebook page to RSVP/find out more, or contact Owner #759 Maria Rasche at [email protected] for more information.

July 27

Monthly Board Meeting at 7:00pm. Have a question for the Chicago Market Board? Want to see us in action? Our meetings are open to all Owners — click here for location and to RSVP please.

August 28

Our Annual Owners Meeting will be held from 2:00 to 5:00pm at the Ravenswood Event Center, 4025 N. Ravenswood Avenue. We’ll report on the operations, finances and progress of Chicago Market against our key goals of site, funding and Owner growth, and we’ll conduct elections for five board seats.

Run for Chicago Market’s Board of Directors

We’re looking for Owners with a passion to see Chicago Market succeed to run for our upcoming Board of Directors election. You’ll be part of an amazing team and you’ll help build our co-op community. Whether you’ve had leadership role before or not, if you’re an Owner with ideas and commitment, we want to hear from you. We especially encourage those folks who would improve our representation of the socioeconomic and ethnic diversity of our neighborhoods; as well as those with skills in marketing, development and finance.

Deadline for application is July 22. Click here for more information.

Board of Directors

Announcing Chicago Market Owners Cards!

Owner Cards

Curious about your Chicago Market Owner #? Want a way to carry your co-op cred with you, wallet-size? You can now get your Chicago Market Owners Card by emailing us here. We’re working on some great Owners-Only promotions for you to use your new card, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, you still have until the end of this month (July 31) to take advantage of a special offer from one of Chicago Market’s business Owners, Cantina 1910. See our June newsletter for details.

Co-Op Conference Update

This year's Consumer Cooperative Management Association Conference, co-hosted by the Neighboring Food Co-op Association, Franklin Community Co-op and River Valley Co-op, was held in Amherst, Massachusetts. CCMA provides a unique opportunity for food co-op general managers, board members and staff to dialog, collaborate and plan together. The theme of the conference was “Disrupting the Future: Cooperative Food and the Next Generation” and focused on co-op leadership addressing diversity and inclusion through their cooperative businesses.

I was fortunate to attend the CCMA in June on a scholarship provided by the Howard Bowers Fund, established in 1994 with an endowment from the Hyde Park Cooperative Society to strengthen the food co-op community through the training and education of food co-op staff, managers, and board members. The Fund has made more than $300,000 in grants since its formation.

As the Founder and Director of Funding for Chicago Market, my job is to promote the cooperative ideal and Chicago Market's unique mission and vision to potential Owners and lenders. Chicago is one of the most competitive grocery markets in the country, and co-op identity — despite the Dill Pickle's impending expansion and the one-year old Sugar Beet in Oak Park — remains in its infancy. Our challenge is to differentiate ourselves not only from conventional grocers, but also natural foods giants Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. We understand that our message needs to resonate with consumers already pre-disposed to local and organic foods, but also must promote the cooperative difference as a means towards honest food, transparency, and community economic power.

The conference opened with a powerful keynote speech by Shirley Sherrod, formerly the USDA rural development coordinator for Georgia. Sharing her family's more than 50-year history in farming and fighting institutionalized racism in Georgia, Sherrod taught that if co-ops do not emphasize diversity as part of their mission, it will not occur organically, nor can it reasonably be accomplished after the fact.

Greg Berlowitz and Christina Jennings

I spent the remainder of the conference meeting with leaders and representatives from some of the most prominent co-op funding organizations in the country, including Shared Capital Cooperative, National Cooperative Bank, LEAF, Self Help Credit Union, the Cooperative Fund of New England, and Capital Impact Partners. I learned about the qualities lenders seek in co-op loans (capacity, capital, collateral, conditions, character and communication) and heard impressive case studies about the considerable creativity and tenacity required for eleven co-op start-ups to become funded. A federal USDA administrator went over the potential state and federal loan programs that are available (not many) and a senior vice president from the NCB explained the mechanisms of New Market Tax Credits (incredible potential, high transaction costs).

While in beautiful western Massachusetts, I was lucky enough to tour the Franklin Community Co-op and the River Valley Co-op, a farmer's cooperative, and three worker co-ops. I met board members and general managers from co-ops all over the country. I also met with leaders of national cooperative associations.

All over the country, co-ops are thriving while facing the challenges of a changing economic landscape. I heard universal support for Chicago Market and fielded offers to help us build and grow. It was an extraordinary opportunity to stretch both our connections and our thinking as we move forward with our own planning.

In follow-up discussions, the Chicago Market Board has already begun to focus on the question of how to improve our own efforts to address diversity and inclusion. We know we can do better; we also know we need our Owner community to step up and help us with input, ideas and tangible volunteer efforts to help us achieve our potential. If you’re able to contribute, raise your hand and share your thoughts at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you.

Spring Ownership Drive

Chicago Market’s Spring Ownership Drive was all about helping us get to the next phase of designing our dream grocery store. In May and June, we set out to get 50 new Owners, to help us jumpstart the funding of our architect and store designer projects. Every significant financial step we take needs to be accompanied by Owner growth, and so we’re pleased to say we welcomed 33 new Owners over this short campaign. Thanks to all of you who joined, and to all of you who reached out to friends, neighbors, co-workers and family to share your story about why you’re an Owner, and asked them to join too!

What’s more, we asked the question “hey, #whatsyourblueprint? Online, in social media and at our two Pop-Up events in May — we invited you to share your own ideas about what you’d like to see in our store — what kind of building and design would you like to see? What’s most important to you? How do you want to feel when you walk through our doors?

We got dozens of great responses. We’ve added these to all the community input we’ve been collecting, and we’ll be sharing it with our architects and store designers along with our mission, to inspire and guide them. Soon, we’ll be sharing more news about who we’ve selected to do this important work with us, and there will be more opportunities for organized community input as we move forward. Meanwhile, you can still share your thoughts by emailing us anytime at [email protected] or by posting on our Facebook page or Twitter and tagging #whatsyourblueprint.

And finally, those folks who either joined or referred a new Owner in May were entered into a drawing to win a cute single-burner Weber Grill! Congratulations to Owner #810, Wanda Pedraza. We hope you’re grilling up some delicious local fare for your friends & family this summer and encouraging them to become part of our honest food community, too.

Blueprint prize

Owners, keep Chicago Market growing by sharing your story, and this link
on your own social media feeds or in your conversations with neighbors this summer. Together, we’ll build our community’s dream grocery store!

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Have you Cooked?

Writer and Chicago Market Owner #148, Annette Mambuca was curious about a new Netflix series featuring another writer, Michael Pollan, and focusing on the universality of cooking. Here’s her terrific review of Episode 1: Fire. Check it out, check out the documentary, and go to our Owners-Only Facebook page to talk about it, or to let us know what other book or movie reviews you’d like to see or share. (psst! Wanna be part of a new Chicago Market book club? See “Upcoming Dates” above.)

Annette Mambuca

The first episode of Michael Pollan’s new Netflix documentary series, Cooked, uncannily reflects the guiding principles of our very own Chicago Market — A Community Co-op:

Michael Pollan's Cooked

• Grow and eat local food

• Ensure its production is sustainable for the planet

• Maintain (or create) food and cooking traditions that enrich life — yours and others

Each of Cooked’s four episodes features one of the natural elements (fire, water, air, earth) through which Pollan explores the history of food preparation and its undeniable influence on human connection. Part science…part history…part culture…part agriculture (and exposé), Episode 1 pays tribute to the power of fire and its evolutionary role against the backdrop of several cultures.

The first is the native Martu Aboriginal people of western Australia, for whom controlled burning of their ancestral land is an ancient ritual for reviving said lands (see: modern forestry), as well as calling forth — and cooking — the kangaroo, bush turkey and goanna (Australian lizard) that are the mainstays of their diet.

Juxtaposed to that is the story of a third-generation North Carolinian, Ed Mitchell, who unexpectedly smoked his first pig at age 14 after his elders over-indulged in moonshine. Ed muses on the connective power of cooking and eating in the context of his great-great-great grandfather’s role as a “pit boy” on a slave plantation and his own experience as a Vietnam vet.

Two “artisan” pig farmers and a local butcher frame their devotion to and respect for pigs as a fully realized contribution to the community, from the retailers who sell them to the villagers and restaurateurs who buy and cook them.

Finally, Pollan and a cohort fashion their own pig cooker, cooking overnight to create a meal to be shared with family and friends, the experience that is at the heart of his work.

I admit to having winced at Pollan’s adolescent “pet pig” tale (he mentions living at 89th and Park Avenue with select summers on Martha’s Vineyard). Pollan’s privilege stands in stark contrast to the process of buying, cooking and eating food experienced by the majority of people around the world, yet overall the documentary deserves a spot on most foodies’ “watch list.”

Then again, check out the episode and decide for yourself.

June Click & Pick Survey Results

Last month, we asked “how do you support sustainability in your home and lifestyle?” Thanks for your responses! We’ll use this information in our planning and to inspire future newsletter content.


favor walk/bike/transit




buy bulk foods


keep an eye on home energy use


favor seasonal/local buying


support businesses with sustainable design/practices



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