Congrats, Gary Cuneen
Before anyone heard of the word locavore, someone was working hard to lay the ground work for local eating. Gary Cuneen certainly did not invent local eating, nor was he the first person to champion the locavore movement, but he played a big part in making it happen in the Chicago area. Gary helped lay the foundation for people like me to eat local. For instance, Gary and his organization were instrumental in helping area farmers form CSAs, then hooking those CSA farms up with consumers. Personally, I can trace back much of my love and fascination with local eating to things done by Seven Generations Ahead.
Foremost, they hooked Vicki Westerhoff of Genesis Growers with the children of Hatch Elementary School in Oak Park, Illinois. “Farmer Vicki” became fast friends with the kids, both by visiting them at their school and by having them visit her at her farm. One of her new best friends was my younger daughter. Soon, she was networking us with her friend, Farmer Vicki, and the rest, well, it’s been one local adventure. I will add, that in addition to that bit of networking, we also attended a meet and greet one year that Seven Generations arranged with Vicki at an Oak Park area home. Since this is a post about Gary, I’ll skip for now, all of the fun things we have done with Vicki.
But another fun, very fun thing I did through Gary was visit two farms in Central Illinois Henry Brockman’s Henry’s Farm and Denis and Emily Wettstein’s organic paradise. That day, recorded on a segment of Chowhound lost to the Internet demons (and their overlord, Jim Leff), may be ground zero for me and local eating. I owe a lot to Gary Cuneen.
My wife and I have been paying them back through attendance at their annual dinner the last few years. Because of work travel issues, it will be unlikely that I will be able to make this year’s dinner. Still, for all that Gary and Seven Generation’s Ahead have done for the cause of local eating (and some other great work on sustainability issues) you should go to this year’s function–details here (also Local Beet Contributor Melissa Graham will be cooking!). Give him some congrats on his well deserved award.