Local is Affordable and Accessible

August 28, 2008 at 7:59 am

Rob Gardner

I used to justify the price I pay for local food by declaring it my hobby.  Some people skied or bought the fanciest electronics.  I shopped at farmer’s markets.  As a hobby, I had the luxury of traveling around the area, ranging as far as Madison and Ann Arbor.  Who cared if local was accessible.  Then I got defensive.  Was local really so expensive.  Did it really necessitate journeys.  I cannot deny that certain local foodstuffs cost more.  This is especially the case with local meat for sale at farmer’s markets.  I cannot deny that there are communities without good markets, nor as I have argued before are farmer’s markets ideal.   I’ve come up with many a-reason to justify local costs: I spend less on junk food; I spend less on restaurants.  Lately, I have something better, the weekly inserts in the Chicago Tribune.

Is local affordable and accessible?  Well, see what’s on offer.  Tony’s Finer Foods shows Michigan blueberries and Wisconsin potatoes in their ad.  “Michigan Grown” and “Locally Grown” are paraded across the Angelo Caputo’s ad, where one can find various peppers, tomatoes, sweet corn, peaches and more.  Ultra Foods sees a trend and advertises Michigan berries and Michigan grape tomatoes and Minnesota potatoes.  And it is really a trend when you see how much Dominick’s highlights local, with items ranging from cucumbers to broccoli to Illinois sweet corn with the tag, “pick me, I’m locally grown.”  Lastly, Sunset Foods, on the North Shore.  They do not insert in my Trib, but word on the street is that they push local hard.  All of these places are advertising very affordable food.  The prices for local at Caputo’s for instance, amaze me, like 3 lbs of cabbage for a dollar.

So, you think two things about now.  First, this is all fine and good this month but what about next month, December.  Second, do I counter my diet to only include those products advertised.  Can I eat three meals a day of green peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes.  Let me take the second one first.  I am not an absolutist who demands no bananas, no citrus in the local diet.  Still, my answer to you is, frankly, yes, make your diet now full of local products.  Can you really get bored of a good tomato?  Do as much as you can with what you have.  Gorge on local.  Yet gorge on it tomorrow?  Pretty much all the local food in deep abundance preserves well.  Take some time to set aside.  Sweet corn is easy to freeze, holds up well in the freezer.  Fairly astute shopping can find you local corn for 20 cents an ear, maybe 25 cents.  How many local meals can you have come winter from that?  KennyZ on the discussion board has some good tomato ideas that do not mean canning.  Got questions on what to do with all this local.  Ask.

Yes, the real truth is that it is at this time of year that local is affordable and accessible.  In a few months none of these stores will advertise their locally grown.  This local family will continue to eat local.  We will track down the winter markets; take advantage of our local superstore, Cassie’s Green Grocer; order a few times from Irv and Shelly and surely visit Madison.  We will forever be on the lookout for local, Michigan apples at Costco, Wisconsin potatoes at the dollar store.  We will also eat much from what we set aside.  We will guide you then.  Now, take advantage of it when it is most affordable and accessible.



  1. [...] for a whole week without visiting a farmer’s market.  We could probably continue to do so by visiting all the area grocery stores with local.  This Local Family lives close to an outstanding grocery store, Angelo Caputo’s (the one [...]

  2. [...] am happy to report that like last week, local food is accessible and affordable around the Chicago area ( based mostly on what’s [...]

  3. [...] options for affordable, accessible food remain high.  (Note, previous A&A reports are here and here.)  As in previous weeks, we make our call based on the weekly inserts in the Oak Park [...]

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