Local Remains Accessible and Affordable

September 3, 2008 at 12:32 pm

Rob Gardner

I am happy to report that like last week, local food is accessible and affordable around the Chicago area ( based mostly on what’s being advertised).

Food4Less, with 13 area stores does not show much local, but they do manage to point out in their ad that their jalepenos and tomatillos are locally grown.

Tony’s Finer Foods, with 4 stores, shows Michigan blueberries in their ad.

Ultra Foods, with 6 locales, sells Michigan tomatoes and cucumbers and Wisconsin potatoes.

Angelo Caputo’s, with 6 stores, remains the most dedicated, at least the one most vigorous in their promotion of local.  They advertise local celery, local lettuce, local tomatoes, local plums and local eggplant.  I know from frequent visits, the in-store local is even more: cabbage, beans, various peppers, etc. 

On the flip, Dominick’s, the second largest chain in the area (I believe) offers no local in their ad, after parading around a bunch of local last week.  Of course Jewel, I think the largest of the area chains (forgive my inability to google this) showed no local last week and repeats the performance this week. 

Yes, local is accessible and affordable.  On the latter front, nearly all of the local produce advertised is advertised at less than a dollar a pound.  Still, with it out there, the markets also tempt with the most non-local imaginable.  Jewel, who cannot find a local product to advertise, finds in the midst of the harvest, the need to advertise hot house (their words!) peppers.  Likewise, when anyone playing half a bit of attention to delicious eating knows to eat real tomatoes now; Jewel shows fake “vine-ripened” ones.   Dominick’s likewise offers “on the vine cluster” tomatoes–code for tomato crap.  Even Caputo’s, who I laud, I know they sell at this moment, asparagus.  Asparagus.

People have argued with me over variety, saying essentially that they get to eat whatever they want; me, my diet is so damn restrictive because I have to eat solely local.  What I find is just the opposite.  My diet varies greatly based on seasonal variety and local bounty.  It’s those other guys who stick with the same stuff; tomatoes painted to look red in hydro-greenhouses; asparagus that can be found and shipped in from somewhere in early September; tri-colored plastic sleeved bell peppers from the warehouse store.  This is their diet today.  It is their diet next month, it is their diet a half a year from now.  It may not be as accessible and as affordable to eat local next month or a half a year from now, but if you do not start now, when?