Sugar Beet Food Co-Op was created by a group of neighbors in Oak Park, Illinois who loved the farmers’ market and wanted greater access to local and sustainably produced foods. The Co-Op does education events, connects customers and farmers, and is leading the Good Food Movement for Oak Park.
Sugar Beet was built with the mission to create a marketplace for local farmers and producers, provide the community convenient access to high-quality food at a fair price as well as establish itself as a hub for skill sharing and learning about the Good Food Movement. Since 2012, the Sugar Beet community has been just that! They have built support through community education, fun events and by providing a gathering place for good food producers to connect with consumers and now have over 1400 Co-Op owners.
The sister non profit, Sugar Beet Schoolhouse, offers food literacy programing in collaboration with area schools and other organizations to promote healthy eating through edible gardens and cooking classes. Through a partnership with the Park District of Oak Park they grow food for the Oak Park Food Pantry.
Chris Roland, the Sugar Beet General Manager, states, “A big part of cooperatives is food education and understanding our food systems. We support the Non-GMO project and Just Label It! that mandate the labeling of GMO food, so that customers can make informed food decisions for themselves and their families.”
Sugar Beet Food Co-Op has become a proven business leader in sustainability for the community. The organization composts, recycles and promotes zero waste living with an incredible bulk department that includes cleaners, spices, oils, vinegar and pantry staples. The Co-Op encourages shoppers to bring reusable bags as they shop. Sugar Beet donates five cents per reusable bag or bulk container to a selection of various programs that raise awareness about the work of local agencies that support social justice initiatives.
Sugar Beet clearly defines what they consider local within the store for consumer education. The Co-Op defines local within 250 miles, and regional is 250-500 miles from Oak Park. The organization supports at least 100 local and regional vendors daily and that changes with the seasons. Sugar Beet buys from small, local farmers and producers and promotes the value of this food through our store.
Cheryl Munoz, Founder of Sugar Beet Co-Op, believes that “if people want to be a part of the Good Food Movement that ensures a healthy and sustainable future for our local food systems then I encourage them to support local food co-ops. By creating a strong local economy for food retailers, we can provide a vibrant marketplace for local farmers, producers, and entrepreneurs. Join a food Co-Op!”