A Slow Beet – Let’s Welcome the Sugar Beet Co-op

July 10, 2012 at 10:07 am

Oak Park residents Jenny Jocks Stelzer and Cheryl Munoz, with their neighborhood friends, formed the Sugar Beet Co-op. They intend to build a storefront in Oak Park supplying the village with quality local foods. As they move their plan ahead, they’re engaging the community and throwing a fundraiser. And when you get the end of today’s story, you’ll find a special discount code for that July 26 event.

A few weeks ago, my Saturday went very slowly. Slow food. They say that slow food is not an organization or a collective. They say that slow food lives mostly in the hearts and minds of those who practice it. Those who think both of the pleasures of the table and the battles for good, clean and fair food. On that Saturday, I spent the night intermingling with a lot of people supporting Slow Food Chicago, and also the Chicago Honey Co-op in a beautiful, this is Chicago? setting of Christy Webber Landscaping as part of the annual Summer Solstice potluck.

This jammed together plate of slow food, to me, exemplifies the pleasures of the potluck (with special credit to Slow Food Board Member Jeannine Wise who took care of the salmon.)

Still, where my Saturday really slowed down, to a grinding halt, was at Q7 Ranch in Marango, Illinois with the guys and gals of the Sugar Beet Co-op.


After a hot morning petting the horses and chasing the cows (they don’t like being petted), we sat down to a picnic lunch that included market vegetables, home-made bread, and pickled peppers put away last summer (that I could not get enough of).

You’d think this was the star of the day. Beetnik Cheryl Munoz picked up a hunk of Q7 grass-fed beef from Rob Leavitt of Butcher and Larder (who sells exclusively Q7 beef) and roasted it just great. That is, if you cannot tell, a cut from the round, yet it displayed not a bit of the chew that can be that part of the cow. With our beef (and homemade bread), we had sauce made from the horseradish grown in Jenny Seltzer’s garden. OK, are we getting the slow food picture here? Yet, as much as I stuffed myself on the blanket, we were there for more.

If you spent any time at Green City Market or any of Chicago’s farmer’s markets in recent years, you met David Rand. For a while, he was the City’s Chief Forager, and he did an outstanding job of matching country with city. A year or so ago, however, David reversed the order. He was matching city to country for Frank Morgan and his newly formed, ranch in Marengo. Frank Morgan, sadly, passed away this year. David, and Frank’s wife and daughter continue the operation.

We were there to see the cows. Know our food.

There’s not much to a grass-fed cattle operation. In fact, the saying goes (at least the saying I’m making up), the less you see at a grass-fed cattle operation, the more real it gets. It’s grass. Cows. And a great way to spend a day, slowly.

Get to know Jenny, Cheryl and the Sugar Beet Co-op yourself on July 26, at Fitzgerald’s in Berwyn. They’re throwing an old fashioned, family-friendly hoe-down with the Golden Horse Ranch Band and one of their farm to table dinners to raise funds for their project. Go to Brown Paper Tickets to sign up now. And enter code “local beet” to get $5 off your ticket!

Welcome Sugar Beet, we expect to hear from you a lot going forward.