The Local Calendar Says Stock Up

October 23, 2009 at 11:18 am

Rob Gardner

If we say anything at the Local Beet, and believe you me both, we are prone to repeating ourselves, we say “the reasons to eat local do not end when the markets close up for the season.”  Sure, this Local Family will find bananas in the school lunch and oranges on the table over the winter, but we will still be doing are darndest to eat local.  We will rely much on what we stocked away. 

Let me backtrack for a second, this winter more than ever in our area, we have the ability to obtain local foods in the fall, winter and early spring.  We may not need to put as much away.  We have several Fall/Winter CSAs we can subscribe.  We can order from Irv and Shelly (which is a good resource for seeing what is available local in the winter). Cassie’s going strong and will be pulling stuff from Windy City Harvest, AquaRanch and other cold season farmers all the time at her Green Grocer.  The Downtown Farmstand draws from many of the same sources.  Logan Square will have a winter market this winter.  And who’s not looking forward to what they will have at the Metra Market.  Oh, and let’s not forget that Green City is year round.  On the downside, the roving winter markets of the last few years will not be as often this winter.  Still, we should be able to shop.

Still, we need to stock.  Stock for a few reasons.  Stock because, multiplying options as they may multiply, we do not fully know what we will find come winter.  And argue as I may (and I’ll get around to making this argument plenty), the winter markets will mostly contain lettuces, spinach, chard and the like.  Your roots for your root cellar, I’m saying start getting them now.  Same with other things to put away, onions, garlic, squashes; you may or may not find them, so why not be safe.  The second reason to stock up now is to take advantage of prices.  With most markets running only a few more weeks (and some markets already done), farmers are motivated to move their inventory.  You may especially find good prices on lingering summer items.  There may be the last plum tomatoes to can or eggplants to do something.  You will also find good prices on apples, pears, grapes, potatoes when you buy in bulk.  It always pays to ask if something, an apple or a potato, is a keeper, but generally the items in the market now are keepers (the one exception being McIntosh apples which do not store well).  Stock up.

How to keep your food in a good condition after you have stocked up?  The foods you can keep and store fall into two categories: cold and dry/colder and moist.  The foods that do not require a lot of cold to last are onions, garlic and squash.  These items should be kept somewhere not so damp, which in Chicago area homes is usually about anywhere.  Keep onions dark too, to prevent sprouting.  The rest of the stuff needs more chill, around forty degrees or lower but not freezing, is ideal.  A refrigerator is a good a place as any to get that kind of cold.  The problem with a fridge is that it’s not very moist generally.  That can be solved by placing the foods in sand, wrapping in towels or keeping in plastic bags that retain some moisture.  Beyond your fridge, you can use your root cellar if you got one or find a makeshift root cellar (we’ll talk about this more some other time).  This Local Family has found that its unheated attic makes a fine root cellar in the sky.  Stock up.

What else is there to do besides stocking up?

Saturday, October 24 is the International Day of of Action on the topic of climate change.  There are many events going on around the Chicago area.

The beginnings of what will be Baconfest go fourth this Sunday at the Publican.

We should be telling you more about the nascent Glenwood/Rogers Park Farmer’s Market on the Local Beet.  Until then, you should go help them get started by attending this fundraiser Sunday, Oct. 24, at the Glenwood.

The Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance puts on its bi-annual show this weekend, focusing on beef.  They’ve managed to schedule a Maxwell Street food run in too (Sunday), for all those who missed my show last week.

I wish I could be around for this deli discussion next Thursday, Oct. 29 at Manny’s but I’ll be in Texas.

Some things that should already be noted on your Local Calender:  Seventh Generation Ahead Annual Dinner is November 7, at the Union League ClubMutton family dinner at Mado, October 25.  Chicago Rarities Orchard Project (CROP) fundraiser at Birchwood Kitchen on Oct 26. 

Something to put on your calender for next week: Green City Market is having an awesome Halloween party.  Screw candy when you can get treats cooked up by Allie Levitt of Mado.

Hope you have fun stocking up as well as taking in all that is on offer on the Local Calendar.  As always, if we have missed anything, please feel free to add in the comments.