LOCALLY OWNED Residents of Lombard and nearby communities who want fresh, locally grown food, but don’t want to give up the convenience of a regular grocery store are joining forces to bring a food co-op to Lombard.
The Prairie Food Co-Op is currently recruiting people who will pay a onetime fee of $200 to become memberowners. As of late February, the effort had approximately 450 members and was growing every day, said co-founder Jerry Nash. Co-op board members are seeking 800 members before they take the plunge and sign a lease and they feel that they need to reach a membership of approximately 1,500 in order to actually open the co-op, which will be managed by a professional. “My wife, Kathy, and I had been member-owners of The Common Ground, a food co-op in Champaign, and when we moved here, we were surprised to find that there weren’t any nearby. The closest one was The Dill Pickle in Chicago,” Nash said. “So, after complaining for awhile, we decided to start a co-op ourselves and we launched the Prairie Food Co-Op.” Food cooperatives are worker- or customer-owned businesses that provide grocery items of the highest quality and best value to their members. Some are retail stores like the one planned for Lombard and others are buying clubs. Regardless,
all food co-ops are committed to consumer education, product quality and member control and usually support their local communities by selling produce grown locally by family farms. “Traditional grocery stores cannot get the locally-produced, sustainable food that many people seek. Besides, food co-ops have proven to be economic generators for a community. They support local food producers and contribute to the local
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economy whenever possible,” Nash said. He acknowledged that not all products sold in the co-op can be locally produced. Citrus, for instance, is hard to grow in the Midwest, so compromises have to be made for co-ops to succeed. But whenever possible, products are sourced locally. Nash said advances are being made in extending the growing season in the Midwest through the use of “hoop houses,” for instance, which is making more locally-
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