Resources for Healthy Food

The Sugar Beet Food Co-op

Started by a group of food-loving neighbors, The Sugar Beet Cooperative is a community managed store and gathering place in Oak Park. The Sugar Beet Food Co-op opened to the general public in 2015, and is open everyday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., selling food directly from local farms and producers. Grab your market bags and come see what the excitement is all about!

The Co-op is your one-stop shop for high quality groceries and more, including:

Sugar Beet Caters
  • Fresh local and organic produce

  • A HUGE bulk section

  • High quality dairy, eggs and meat

  • Vegetarian, vegan and gluten free

  • Frozen goods

  • Wine, beer and cider

  • A beautiful wellness department

  • Fresh, local breads and rolls

  • Local cheeses and salamis

  • Good food to go – sandwiches, salads, soups, wraps and dips

  • Café with coffee drinks, smoothies, juices and pastries to go

The Sugar Beet is dedicated to educating citizens about the importance of supporting farmers and the local economy. It also includes a commercial kitchen where our community can take classes on cooking and preserving, so that folks are able to eat locally year-round here in the Midwest.

The Sugar Beet Food Co-op is at 812 W. Madison, in Oak Park, Illinois. They can be reached at 708-948-7656.  For more information check out:

The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen

If you choose 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day from EWG’s Clean 15 rather than the Dirty Dozen, you can lower the volume of pesticide you consume daily by 92 percent, according to EWG calculations. You’ll also eat fewer types of pesticides. Picking 5 servings of fruits and vegetables from the 12 most contaminated would cause you to consume an average of 14 different pesticides a day. If you choose 5 servings from the 15 least contaminated fruits and vegetables, you’ll consume fewer than 2 pesticides per day. If you are like me and can’t keep straight what is on which list, here’s a handy guide you can download PDF of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen and keep it handy!

 Dirty Dozen

  1. Apples

  2. Celery

  3. Strawberries

  4. Peaches

  5. Spinach

  6. Nectarines – imported

  7. Grapes – imported

  8. Sweet bell peppers

  9. Potatoes

  10. Blueberries – domestic

  11. Lettuce

  12. Kale/collard greens


 Buy these organic  Clean 15 -Lowest in Pesticides

  1. Onions

  2. Sweet Corn

  3. Pineapples

  4. Avocado

  5. Asparagus

  6. Sweet peas

  7. Mangoes

  8. Eggplant

  9. Cantaloupe – domestic

  10. Kiwi

  11. Cabbage

  12. Watermelon

  13. Sweet potatoes

  14. Grapefruit

  15. Mushrooms

Note: Eat your fruits and vegetables! The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Use EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides to reduce your exposures as much as possible, but eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic.

Area Farmers’ Markets

The Oak Park Farmers’ Market had a successful 43rd season ending on 10/27/2018. The Oak Park Farmers’ Market is located at 460 Lake Street, one block west of Ridgeland Avenue. For more information please go to

Interested in serving on the Farmers’ Market Commission? Apply online or download a volunteer application.

Indoor Winter Farmers’ Market

Each winter, from November through March, Faith in Place partners with faith communities to host a series of indoor Winter Farmers’ Markets on Saturdays and Sundays.

The markets provide an additional source of income for local vendors during the off-season, promote sustainable farming methods and economic justice for regional farm families, encourage healthy, wholesome eating, and support the building of relationships between producers and consumers.

Enjoy a wide range of seasonal, sustainably-produced goods and support your local farmers and vendors at this market. Available items may include winter produce, honey, meat, eggs, baked goods, tea, salsas, sauces, spreads, preserves, yarns, beauty products and more.

For more information please go to:

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Membership in a CSA is the practice of paying for a seasonal share of a local farm’s harvest. Participating members receive a weekly box of assorted fruits and/or vegetables – whatever is fresh from the farm that week.  For more information and a list of local farms that offer this service:

Organic & Local Food Delivery

Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks: offers year-round home delivery in the Chicago area of local and organic produce, meat, dairy and eggs. You can order online anytime to choose the specific items you want, or opt for a Fresh Picks Box that is automatically delivered to your door weekly or bi-weekly. For more information:

Additional Resources for Finding Local Foods and
Supporting Local Farmers 


Farmer Training/Wholesale Success/Direct Market Success

Food Safety

Food Hubs

Good Food Festival & Conference

Expanding Markets for Farmers and Food Artisans

Good Food Financing & Innovation

Good Food Business Accelerator

Web Resources for Sustainable Eating

  • Slow Food is a global, grassroots organization, founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from and how our food choices affect the world around us.

  • online source of sustainably raised meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy; enter your zip code to find healthful, humane and eco-friendly products from farms, stores, restaurants in your area.

  • The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture is on the campus of Iowa State. The Center explores and cultivates alternatives that secure healthier people and landscapes, with a focus on sustainable farming.

  • has multiple useful resources, including but not limited to a shoppers guide to pesticides in their food supply, water filtration system guides, and a consumer guide to seafood


Deep Roots Project

Offers free workshops to educate and products to get started. Contact

Root Riot Urban Garden Network


Located at the corner or Race and Waller in Chicago, this lot is adjoined by The Chicago Fire Department, St. Martins Episcopal Church, St. John Church and Fredrick Douglas Academy. This lot has been leased for 3 years. For more information about Root Riot Community Gardens

Best Spring Planting Dates

2013 Best Spring Planting Dates for Seeds in Oak Park: See this useful seed planting guide specifically tailored to this area (zip code 60302) from the Farmers Almanac. This chart includes the most popular crops. For more information, consult your cooperative extension. Click on the underlined crops below for free “how to” plant and grow guides!

Web Resources for Backyard Urban Gardening

  • – The Squash Blossoms organized in 2009 after a six-session course exploring the connection between food and sustainability. We talked about the dream of raising our own vegetables and thereby having some control over what happens to the food we put in our mouths. Six of us decided to make it happen and soon found available land behind a friend’s cafe. Our structure is looser than most community gardens. We share our plot of land instead of staking out separate beds. And together we agree on what to plant and how to design the garden.

  • (click on resources section).

  • resource for heirloom garden seeds.

  • Pesticide Action Network promotes the elimination of dangerous pesticides and offers solutions that protect people and the environment.