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Cook County Whole Foods Co-op

Natural Foods Store or Co-op
Cook County Whole Foods Co-op new store opened 26 June, 2013. – J. Levene

Our Mission Statement:
Cook County Whole Foods Co-op is a member owned community grocery, working to create a healthy and sustainable society.

We have been serving the community with healthy alternatives since 1976.
Our Co-op is member owned and operated. We are a source for whole foods, health products and kind-to-the-earth household products.Our food products are made from nutritious ingredients and produced cooperatively and/or locally. They are as free from additives, preservatives and artificial ingredients as possible.We also encourage environmentally appropriate packaging and offer informational materials to promote healthier lifestyles.

Accessibility Notes

ADA compliant

Locally or Family-Owned Business Notes

We are a whole foods cooperative, member owned with over 2000 owner/members!
Cook County Whole Foods Co-op-Everyone Welcome!

Here's a little bit of our history:

The Cook County Whole Foods Co-op was born on a homestead named “Castle Yonder” just outside of Grand Marais, Minnesota in the late 1960’s. Several families in the Good Harbor Hill neighborhood were looking for a simple life on the land. This lifestyle included healthy, inexpensive food. To meet this need, they held potlucks to decide what bulk quantities of food they wanted to purchase in Minneapolis and bring back North to be stored in Jim and Betsy Bowen’s basement. When provisions were needed, these same neighbors would come to collect beans, rice or peanut butter and leave their money in a coffee can bank.

When the Bowens moved to Arizona, the group decided to officially incorporate this distribution system as a Minnesota cooperative. In June 1976, the Cook County Whole Foods Co-op opened its first storefront in one of the Gopher Cabins on the east end of Grand Marais with 60 members on the roster by year’s end.

Eco-Friendly Notes

Is our Co-op a leader in environmentally sustainable practices?

by Judy Peterson, Secretary, Board of Directors CCWFC

At the April Board of Director’s meeting, we focused on the 2nd of our Ends Statements: a leader in environmentally sustainable practices. Our general manager submitted a written report that began with her interpretation of this end: “that Cook County Whole Foods Co-op will make environmentally sustainable choices in our operation, will offer environmentally sustainable products to customers and will promote environmentally sustainable practices.” Then followed an explanation of how the Co-op is meeting the Ends Policy. It was impressive to see everything pulled together in one report, our congratulations to Jennifer, Co-op General Manager, all the staff and board members, who have worked so hard and helped make such progress in this area.

As shoppers you are probably already aware of some of our practices: a commitment to offer organic foods and products, the large bulk section to save on packaging (we also offer a class on how to use it: Co-op 101, the first Wednesday of each month at 6p.m.), the 10¢ discount when using your reusable bag and the choice to use real dishes over paper and plastic in the deli area. Behind the scenes there is also a commitment to cleaning products such as rags and towels that cut down on waste and environmentally friendly cleaners that do not pollute the water. Waste items are sorted and recycled or composted and whenever possible recycled office products are chosen.

Outside the store, the Co-op has adopted a two-mile stretch of Highway 61 west of town, where volunteers have picked up trash, sorted and recycled whatever they can, twice a year now for 22 years! We also have started to offer family movie nights for the entire community in an effort to educate and raise awareness about food, the environment and sustainability.

Our new Co-op building was built with energy efficiency in mind. The building envelope exceeds the state requirements. The roof is a continuous average R40 with 10 inches of polyisco foam at the roof edges (the state requires R23 roof insulation on commercial building in a northern climate). There are 4 inches of Styrofoam below the interior slab. The ICF exterior walls have continuous R25 insulation (the state require R9.3 wall insulation on commercial buildings in a northern climate). We have installed triple-glazed windows and taken additional steps such as using local wood and water-based stains to ensure limited impact on our environment. We chose energy-efficient lighting throughout the store. LED lighting is in all of our refrigeration and outdoor lighting, and lower wattage florescent tubes throughout the store. We have dual flush EPA WaterSense certified toilets and have installed low-flow sprayers on our three compartment sinks. Our refrigeration is energy-star certified, and we opted to install a rack system versus individual compressors to save energy and to allow us to reuse the excess heat from the refrigeration to heat our water and help heat the building.

And then there is the commitment to carry local food when available and our on-going support for the local grower’s discussion at the annual meeting last October and it has taken center stage with the board of directors, too. Recently we added the word “local” to our first Ends statement: “a successful, cooperative grocery that is a trusted source of healthy, local and sustainable products and services for all”. We have also set up a local food committee of 3 Board of Directors members (Erik, Don and Judy) to keep the discussion going.

The September/October 2013 issue of Cooperative Grocer featured stories on La Montanita Co-op’s regional distribution center, on the farms owned by Roanoke Co-op and the Wedge Co-op, and on an anticipated expansion for Neighboring Food Co-op’s regional frozen foods line. What lies in the future for Cook County Whole Foods Co-op in 5, 10, 20 years from now?

Of course, there is always more to do in this huge area of sustainability, thus Jennifer has entered our Co-op in the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program which the city of Grand Marais is participating in. This should help with measuring what we have done to make our Co-op greener and also offer tools to help with future greener decisions. So we’re on our way!


July & August
Monday - Saturday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday - 9 a.m to 7 p.m.

Monday - Saturday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday - 10 a.m to 6 p.m.

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