It’s Grand! – Official Opening of Sugar Beet Coop
Grand Opening on Friday August 14
It’s been a very busy three and half years of ideas, brainstorms, outreach, joining, planning, and fundraising for the folks who decided to start a food coop in Oak Park. The result of all this work, the Sugar Beet Coop throws open its doors this Friday with a gala ribbon cutting and party. The Sugar Beet Food Coop is owned by members of the community. Over 1200 households have purchased owner shares. While anyone can shop at the Coop, the owners have been instrumental in providing the startup capital and vision for the store. OK, their vision and enterprise opened a few weeks ago. I’ve already shopped there, but there’s opening and grand openings. This Friday will feature entertainment from Red Moon Theater plus the usual array of politicians and community leaders. There will also be local farmers and producers on hand to talk about their goods. The whole weekend will celebrate a community of good food. There will be chef demonstrations, tastings, entertainment and specials for shoppers.
I talked this week with Cheryl Munoz, Founder of the Sugar Beet, Project Manager, Board Member, and also Board member of the related project, Sugar Beet Schoolhouse (which will provide education for the community). She mentioned a few things about getting the Coop moving. First, she liked how it has become a community center. She said that people are not just shopping but hanging, gathering. Second, she mentioned how tricky it is working with local farmers and becoming a cog in the local food machine. She felt like they are still very much learning and developing in how they are going to be able to bring real food to their shelves. They’re off to a great start, I think.
I really like their cheese and dairy selections. They have selections from several local dairies including Saxon, LaClare Farms, and Marcot Farms. One of the things Marcot makes, something you do not see very often and something the Sugar Beet carries, is quark. Quark is cottage cheese done well. In Europe quark is eaten both savory and sweet, with onions or honey, and I’ve enjoyed my quark already both ways. Like, you’ve heard of pork n’ beans. The other day for lunch I had quark n’ greens, that is quark spread on toast and topped with boiled swiss chard.
They have their own coffee and a great selection of local pours.
Of course, they’re loading the store up too with farmer’s markets goodies. These plums, local peaches, and more farm fresh items are there now for your purchase. Cheryl and I talked about how farmer’s markets are great but imperfect vehicles for meeting out local food needs. I mentioned Saturday mornings, and we both thought four letters, AYSO. If your kids of soccer age, are you at the market or carting the kid around. Plus, can you get that booze or coffee? Sugar Beet is aiming to be a full service shop, allowing the community to purchase an assortment of quality organic and local products. Everything’s been for sale for a few weeks. It’s Grad Opening comes this weekend.
Sugar Beet Food Co-op
812 W. Madison
Oak Park, 60302
Open Every Day 7AM-9PM