One suburban food co-op is hoping to launch later this year in central DuPage County. Where do they get their food from?
Prairie Food will focus on local, organic and sustainably produced food. The co-op has cultivated relationships with Walnut Acres Family Farm in Wilmette, Rustic Road Farm in Elburn, Jake’s Country Meats in southwest Michigan and “quite a few dairy farms,” Kathy Nash said…
Co-op organizers say the model — local control, local ownership — has become especially relevant after the pandemic brought on food supply issues…
Food co-ops clearly define what “local” means. The Food Shed’s goal is to source 25% of all of the store products within a 100-mile radius. The McHenry County co-op purchased land on Route 14 and Lakeshore Drive to build from the ground up. The shopping space will cover around 7,000 square feet…
The Food Shed started from a desire to connect with local farmers and “tap into the local economy,” Jensen said. The co-op was officially incorporated in 2014.
If the comparison is between a 3,000 mile salad where the ingredients come from a long ways away or having food from within 100 miles or a few hours drive, then the co-op is definitely pursuing local food.
At the same time, the desire to buy local food is made more difficult in suburban settings where development has gobbled up land for decades. Looking back at some research notes I had, I found these facts about local farms:
-The amount of land in DuPage County devoted to farming dwindled toward the end of the twentieth century – down to 11% of the county’s land in 1987 and 95 farms in 1992 – according to the Chicago Tribune.
-Also in the Chicago Tribune, the last dairy farm in DuPage County closed in 1993 with the land sold to a developer. At one point, the county was known as “the milk shed for Chicago.”
-The last beef cows in Naperville left in 2005 with the sale of a farm to developers (also according to the Chicago Tribune).
So even as some suburbanites want local food, the developments and communities in which they live are at least partly responsible for pushing food production further away?