Your Accessible and Affordable Local Calendar

August 7, 2009 at 11:50 am

Rob Gardner

When I first started writing up a “Local Calender” on Fridays, it was to point you all to the limited spots for obtaining local foods during the leaner times.  Of course there was the always mentioned Cassie and her Green Grocer, and later, the Downtown Farmstand, but mostly it was about where the winter markets were popping up that week and what other ways could we scratch our locavore itch off-season.  I’ve continued the weekly calender even though finding a market these days is as easy as going to the Beet’s Market Locator.  But now, beyond the markets, beyond Cassie, we are in the heart of the season of accessible and affordable local food.

Standard complaints about local food is that it is elitist, expensive and difficult to get.  Sometimes we at the Local Beet have to stand up to those charges and say, “guilty as charged.”  We do want to pay more for milk and eggs.  We do not shirk from Farmer Vicki’s produce regardless of the cost.  Still, we also very (very) much believe that local food should be as open and available as possible.  When we see local food everywhere, we want to tell you.

I popped into my local Caputo’s the other day for the first time in ages–my visits to Caputo’s are way down since the fire at Caffe Italia across the street where I spent too many afternoons with my wife.  They had local eggplants, cabbage and sweet peppers.  I expect more local food as the summer rolls on.

I cannot personally vouch for any of these, but based on the weekly ads: Ultra Foods has Michigan peaches, Jewel has Indiana muskmelons.  Sunset Foods advertises Illinois peaches and Indiana watermelons (and they have Wisconsin Nueske bacon at an excellent price).  Dominicks has Michigan blueberries, green peppers and green beans.  Remember, these items still come from smaller scale, family owned farms; food miles remain low; you keep money nearby.  The more you buy specifically local, the more your neighborhood store will carry local.  Take full advantage of accessible and affordable local foods.

OK, we’ve led you to farmer’s markets and not so farmer’s markets.  What else is there to do for the eat local-ite?

Our good friends at Mado will soon be leading a course on animal butchering and whole beast cooking.  Until then, you can get some tips from them at Green City Market this Saturday.

Don’t linger too long with Chef’s Rob and Allie.  Head to Veggiefest in Naperville on Saturday (or go on Sunday).

The liquor store In Fine Spirits has been focusing on local booze.  Dimitri of Fork and the Road points out this event on Monday with our pals from Washington Island, Death’s Door Spirits.

Next Wednesday, August 12, Carnivale hosts a Slow Food Chicago dinner.

Then go play veggie bingo at the Hideout.

Local Food and Eco-Mixer the next day, Thursday 8/13 at Uncommon Ground.

Mark your calender for Seven Generation’s Ahead Microbrew Review in Oak Park on August 22.  I recently got a sneak taste of the beer Peter from Rock Bottom brewed with some very locally grown hops (as in grown in Oak Park).

Eat-in at Daley Plaza with Slow Food Chicago for better school lunches, August 26.

Cork and Crayons is the benefit for Purple Asparagus on August 30.

Tomatofest September 10.

And last…Local Beet Farm Dinner, September 20.  Details soon!