Cheryl Muñoz is the co-founder of the Sugar Beet Coop, an Oak Park, IL food cooperative providing high quality, locally sourced food at fair value to its member-owners and the community. It also serves as a neighborhood gathering place for sharing and learning about the regional food shed.
AE: Fed up or filled up?
CM: Both. I’ll start with what I am fed up with first because it happens to be Thursday and my fridge is looking bare. I live in Oak Park where I am lucky to enjoy an incredible farmers’ market but it’s only held on Saturdays for six months of the year. Sure, I could go to another market in Chicago or another suburb but I want to stay local, and focus my energy and my dollars in my community. I want eating locally and sustainably to be a convenient option for my family and for others in my community.
AE: And you are working to change that, right?
CM: Right. Being fed up helped fuel what we are building with The Sugar Beet Cooperative. It’s going to be a member-owned grocery store near the Austin/Oak Park border stocked with farmers’ market-quality goods all year round. The Sugar Beet Coop will function as a community gathering place and resource center for people to learn more about gardening, food preservation, healthy eating and cooperative economies.
AE: Because it truly does take a village…
CM: Indeed. My friend, neighbor and co-director, Jenny Jocks Stelzer, and I are filled up, as you’d call it, and continually energized by people in the Austin and Oak Park communities, and those further afield, who are already supporting us in our nascent venture. We are about two years away from having a brick and mortar storefront but we are busy with classes on topics like food preservation, healthy lunches for students, cooking from the garden and more programming like edible garden tours.
AE: What can someone do to help your cause?
CM: Well, we plan to fill-up on Sugar Beet love next Thursday night, July 26th, at The Inaugural Sugar Beet Coop Benefit Gala at Fitzgerald’s. Our farmers will be there to show off their best summer season foods at a true farm-to-table dinner while we listen to the amazing music of The Golden Horse Ranch Square Dance Band. There is so much to celebrate!