Localvore Challenge – Find Your Food

September 12, 2008 at 9:31 am

Rob Gardner

Eat local food.  It tastes better.  Day 3 of the Localvore Challenge should have you convinced of that.  After three days though, are you in need of stocking up.  Chicago’s Green City Market provides much for the budding locavore: fruit, veg, milk, eggs, chicken, lamb; for the period of the challenge Green City has added like a farmer selling dried beans.  It is a good place to shop for eating local.  Where else can you shop.

There are many farmer’s markets in the state of Illinois.  The State of Illinois produced an excellent web site, organized by day, covering these markets.  There is no better way to find area markets.  If you want to find a farmer’s market in Wisconsin, here’s the site to do it.

Michael and I believe, more than anything, in the idea of being Practically Local.  We love farmer’s markets, the way they introduce consumers to the best in local foods, and also they way they put consumers best in touch with the people who make the food.  Still, on a practical sense, farmer’s markets cannot meet everyone’s local food needs.  For one thing, as often as the Agrihappenings site shows markets occur, they might not occur when you need them.  For another thing, do they sell all of the things you need to make your diet complete.  It helps to know about stores that specialize in local food.  No store more specializes in local food than Cassie’s Green Grocer.  Daily, you will find the same fruits and vegetables found at farmer’s markets (purchased from the same farmers), but you will find much else to make your diet complete.  She sells local beef, lamb and chicken.  She has local eggs.   She even has local ice cream, the outstandingly excellent Trader’s Point Creamery.  The newly expanded Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park does not share Cassie’s singular focus on local; they actually carry stuff from over-seas! but their selection of local foods is high.  Not only can you find, I believe, the largest range of artisanal local cheeses.  For instance, you can find there the Hidden Springs Creamery sheep milk cheeses which go so well with seasonal tomatoes.  Marion Street Cheese also sells an array of local products that will add luxury and elegance to your meals.  Local food does not have to be boring, or worse ascetic.  From Marion Street, get Iowa bred and made prosciutto (La Querica) to jazz up your market melon.   Make your local greens that much more tasty with some of the Nueske slab bacon sold there.

Green Grocer and Marion Street Cheese are two stores I love.  I love nearly as much, finding local in my neighborhood grocery.  I do not walk into Fox & Obel too often, but the last time I was there, about a month ago, they were selling a lot of local.  I do tend to visit Whole Foods more often.  Myself and others tend to focus on the limited local produce, but Whole Foods has a large collection of local dairy.  They sell local meats from Wisconsin’s Organic Pasture.  I have found local at the dollar store, including big bags of Wisconsin potatoes, and I have found local at Costco, especially Michigan fruit.  Local is where you find it.

The challenge of the Locavore Challenge should not be in finding food.  The Challenge is instead about making choices.  Chose local by shopping at farmer’s markets and the stores that focus on local, but just as important, chose local when you have options.  Look at labels.  Ask questions.  Right now, your grocery may have asparagus stocked next to sweet corn.  Which one do you buy.