Our Standards for Good Food  

At Neighborhood Co-op Grocery, we take the guesswork out of shopping for quality natural foods. We have purchasing guidelines to help our buyers select products that meet our high standards. These standard help us provide our community with delicious, wholesome foods that are:

•  Natural
•  Local
•  Organic
•  Fair Trade
•  Humane
•  Minimally processed
•  Minimally packaged
•  Non-GMO/Labeled GMO

Using our product standards, we strive to give our customers a range of options and help them make educated choices that work best for them.
While some products meet all the criteria, not every product meets each one of the criteria inclusively. For example, a product may be local but not organic, organic but not Fair Trade, or an item may be natural but contain an ingredient that may not be humanely raised. We encourage our customers to always read product labels for a full list of ingredients. If you question any of the ingredients, call the manufacturer and ask for full disclosure. By law, product labels must contain company contact information.

What We Want In Our Food:

Currently, there is no USDA definition for the word 'natural.' The meaning behind this term can vary depending on the company or the product. At Neighborhood Co-op Grocery, when we say 'natural' we mean food that does not contain artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or sweeteners (such as Sucralose, NutraSweet, etc.). For a full list click here. [Online this will be linked a link, but in this document, just scroll down for the next yellow highlight.]

We believe that supporting organically grown foods - food grown without the use of synthetic chemicals - helps to protect the integrity of our food systems. Additionally, organic farming practices ensure the health and wellbeing of farmers, farm workers, livestock, wildlife, the environment – and all of us! For this reason, whenever possible, we offer products that have been sourced organically.

Certified Organic products

These products come from farms that have undergone the rigorous process of becoming certified organic farms.


We believe food tastes better when it's grown close to home!  Plus, buying local keeps more dollars in the community and strengthens our local economy. We're committed to providing a wide selection of locally grown food and locally crafted food products. We strive to support our local farmers, producers, and businesses in all departments of Neighborhood Co-op Grocery.

At Neighborhood Co-op Grocery, we define local as any product that is produced in the state of Illinois or within 200 miles of the Co-op.

Throughout the store are pictures and information about our wonderful local farmers. Enjoy!

Humanely and Sustainably Raised Meats
We offer a variety of poultry, dairy and meat selections that come from animals that have been humanely raised with access to the outdoors and plenty of room to move around. Some of the best sources of humanely raised meat come directly from our local suppliers.

We only offer seafood that has been sustainably harvested, wild caught or farmed in ecologically sound ways. 


Fair Trade
Fair Trade practices make a huge difference in the lives of many farmers and laborers around the world. At the Co-op, we strive to offer Fair Trade certified products whenever viable.

Fair Trade products come from farmers and producers who work directly with buyers and thus receive fair compensation for their product on the international market. A better wage means better living conditions for some of the poorest people on the planet. It also ensures that these farmers develop a livelihood that will sustain themselves and their families for years to come.


We will not knowingly carry products that contain:

Artificial colorings
Artificial flavorings
Artificial sweeteners
Artificial Preservatives
Hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated oils
Growth hormones
BPA, whenever possible

Undesirable Process:

antibiotic treatments
irradiation (except where required by law)
animal hormone therapies
genetic engineering (GMO)
sweat-shop labor
confined animal feedlot

Undesirable Ingredients (specific):

antimycotic agents
calcium proprionate
potassium benzoate
disodium guanylate
disodium inosinate
disodium guanylate (GMP)
disodium inosinate (IMP)
ethyl vanillin
monosodium glutamate (MSG)
calcium saccharin
cyclamates (articial, not allowed in US)
high fructose corn syrup
Equal ™
Nutrasweet ™
Sweet-n-Low ©