In Memoriam – Abby Mandel

August 13, 2008 at 2:01 pm

Via the Chicago Tribune, I just learned that Ms. Mandel recently passed away.  I know she had been battling cancer.  As anyone involved with the Green City Market can tell you, she was the inspiration and life-force behind this endeavour.  The Green City Market planned on holding a tribute to her and her work on September 7, 2008.  I am sure the tribute will be just as rousing without her presence.  Her real legacy stands in the Green City Market, the Chefs that make their menus from it, the many who throng there each week, and the farmers that exist because of it .  All the folks eating local and enjoying the fare from area artisans, causes she championed, mourn her passing.  I know I speak for Michael in saying we would not be here, doing this, if it were not for Abby Mandel.  Our regards to her family and friends.

When the Local Beet was even less formative than it is now, Michael and I were tossing around some story ideas.  One thing that has interested us was the history of the local market movement in Chicago.  I found out from a friend’s bookcase, that Abby Mandel has been championing Midwestern foods for a lot longer than current trends indicate, and her 1996 book Celebrating the Midwest Table shows her eat local activities started well before that publication.   She was truly a head of her time.  More important, and sadly, she was still a bit a head of her time.

Those in the community depended so much on Abby Mandel’s passions and energies.  They looked to her for insight and guidance into unfulfilled projects such as a permanent public market in Chicago.  I am sure Ms. Mandel is encouraged by the growth of the local winter markets, but I am sure she would have wanted more.  We are still in the vanguard of a critical movement.  Abby Mandel was a role model.  We shall continue her fights.