Prairie Food Co-op Community Grocery

Tracey E Smith - Owner #39


This is the first in a series of profiles of our owners—their stories, and what drew them to Prairie Food Co-op. If you would like to be featured, please let us know! Fill out our blog form here and someone will contact you in the next few weeks.

Our series kicks-off with Tracey E Smith's powerful journey to Health and Wellness.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your story and what sparked your interest in local, sustainably grown, fresh organic food.

A: After a highly successful—and highly stressful—career, I found myself at 50 years old, severely overweight and struggling with Metabolic Syndrome. That’s a fancy term for a combination of conditions that include high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol and high blood sugar – all increasing my risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Then the bottom fell out when blood tests showed I was quickly moving into liver failure. On the other side of this crisis, my doctor introduced me to a program that included an entirely new way of eating and an entirely new way of life. With a commitment to getting it right this time, and with plenty of support from family and friends, I threw away three-fourths of the pantry (removing processed foods, meat, corn, wheat, rice and dairy), and began again! 

Q: What prompted you to join Prairie Food Co-op?

A:  My new foundation of healthy, fresh, organic and sustainable foods led me to my next adventure. Scouring local farmers markets, driving to local farms, and talking to produce managers at stores with limited organic sections made it clear that finding a sufficient variety of healthy foods to keep me interested in eating well was not always easy.

Many of our friends in Minneapolis belong to co-ops and no trip to see them was complete without a little co-op shopping. And on those trips, our last stop was always the daily public market on the edge of downtown Minneapolis, filling our bags—and our hearts— with local produce, local honey and sustainable products. It was during one of those famous Minneapolis road trips that we decided to join a co-op closer to home.  At a rest stop, somewhere between Minneapolis and Chicago, we found Prairie Food Co-op on our smartphone, entered in our credit card info and instantly became owners.   

Q. How have you gotten involved in Prairie Food Co-op?

I’ve become a board member, attended the annual Up & Coming, Up & Running Cooperative Conference, and learned a lot about the co-op lifecycle, the co-op principles and the work that is necessary to open and run a successful food co-op.

As I continue to feed my soul, I am thrilled to be able to merge my experience with my passion and join the Prairie Food Co-op Board in helping open a premier grocery store featuring local, sustainably grown, organic produce and dairy to Lombard and the adjoining communities. 

 Q: Tell us about your vision for Prairie Food Co-op.

 A: I look forward to a time in the not-so-distant future, when Prairie Food Co-op will open its doors, providing an insightful, local, healthy place to shop.  A place where community will gather, health and well-being will be encouraged, and all will be welcome.  

Together we built this. Join us.