The advent of the supermarket meant a lot of things to the average family — perhaps most notably a new focus on “convenience foods,” items we’re only now starting to realize aren’t exactly real food after all.
Since then, even regular mom-and-pop grocery stores have made these foods their number one staple, and customers have accepted this change without asking questions.
People have prioritized both supporting local farmers and buying more organic food, but other than Whole Foods (which may not be fully trustworthy), their options for buying these products has been limited.
Food co-ops are excellent options, offering joint ownership and high-quality local and organic products, but they’re typically found in suburban, college or rural towns, in small locations.
One Chicago-based lawyer hopes to change all that in his neck of the woods, with the introduction of a new type of grocery store, one that combines the best aspects of the local foods movement with the organic co-op and larger whole foods markets movements, while also giving local people their own stake in taking ownership.
His idea, ‘Chicago Market,’ will be “a big, bright, beautiful community-owned grocery store,” one that supports both local farmers and the local community. It’s basically a large extension of his current project, the Chicago Food Cooperative which he started.
The man behind the idea, Greg Berlowitz, says that site selection is scheduled for winter 2015 and a 10,000-15,000 square foot space on the North or Northwest side are options according to this article from the website DNAInfo.com.
Owners Sought for New Grocery Store Concept
Berlowitz is looking to sign up 1,000 owners willing to support the venture by September of this year, and so far about 200 people have signed up to be “owners.”
According to the market’s website, the store will feature “local, sustainably farmed, organic produce, meat and dairy products, as well as all of the other staples you’d expect from your market — dry goods, bulk foods, frozen foods, wine, beer and liquor.
“…We’ll have a butcher shop, delicious prepared foods and fresh-baked goods,” Berlowitz notes. “Chicago Market will be a community hub where shoppers can enjoy the juice and coffee bar while attending workshops, classes, meetings and performances.”
Berlowitz’s mission to provide a central space where food producers, consumers and local economies can connect, and focus on becoming more sustainable, transparent, and fair from an economic standpoint.
The current setup allows “owners” to buy into the market for either $250 or $500 and receive discounts on foods and services along with an annual patronage refund based on how much they spend; they also have a say in prices, co-op governance and what types of foods are stocked.
They also get a voice when it comes to what the store stocks, how much it charges and how the co-op is governed.
Co-ops are particularly rare in Chicago according to the DNAInfo article but it could be a major step for a city that could use more access to fresh and health foods.
“I want people to know the farmer,” Berlowitz said.