US (IL): Rural and urban farmers find common ground in passion for food

Increasing access to fresh, locally sourced food and connecting families with how it’s grown are priorities for Chicago-based companies Sugar Beet Food Co-op and Herban Produce. During a recent farm-to-fork tour, 25 farmers from rural Illinois learned about the unique challenges both businesses face in the city.

The Taste of Illinois on Location event took place Saturday, Dec. 4, as part of Illinois Farm Bureau’s Annual Meeting, and highlighted similarities between different types of food production and shared values within agriculture across the state.

Sugar Beet Food Co-op, located in Oak Park, is a food hub created by area residents who needed a source of local, sustainable and healthy foods in their neighborhood. After four years of planning, the grocery opened in 2016.

“Generally, grocery stores are owned by corporations and those are people that are not in the community. Our store is actually owned by consumers, community members, people in the immediate area, and producers,” said Regina Milkovich, education and community outreach coordinator for the co-op.

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