Chicago’s Downtown Farmstand Shows Why Chicago Is Such a Good Place for Eating Local

November 11, 2010 at 9:22 am

Locavore impulses, almost by their very nature, produce envy.  Of course we’d like at times to have a tomato in the winter.  Still, we accept gladly, seasonal eating.  What tugs at us more are things like the over-ample Dane County Farmer’s Market.  How it can fill the entire Capital Square in Madison in April while nary a market exists around Chicago.  It always seems like others have better options.  Or we look with green faces at those who just go to the supermarket for fresh meat (at least until the Levitts get their Butcher & Larder a-goin’).  We know we eat more delicious foods.  We make positive impacts on the world.  We show more respect for the animals.  Yet, we maintain various grudges and longings.  Right.

Well, yesterday I poked around the shelves and containers of the Downtown Farmstand.  The goods for sale reminded me why Chicago is a good place for eating local.  The Downtown Farmstand features many worthwhile local food companies.  One can take home Eli’s Cheesecake or Filbert’s pops.  Many good things get made around here.  That’s not really what I mean though.  What I mean is that the Downtown Farmstand’s products ranged from vegetables in Chenoa, Illinois south all the way to dried fruit from Traverse City, Michigan north. We are smack in the middle.

Go down the Illinois map and you fan find farms four or five ”zones” below the farms in Wisconsin that also serve Chicago markets.  It means that the Downtown Farmstand had tomatoes still in November.  Take a little jog around our big lake, to Southwest Michigan, and you will find a zone protected from the harshness of area weather.  This little protected pocket can get us peaches and apricots and other fruits that we should not ordinarily get this far from the equator.  If we look 360 degrees, we can see much to enjoy.  There was much Michigan fruit for sale in November including pears.  Still.

We are not just lucky enough to be centrally located.  We are lucky enough to be centrally located in some of the best farm land in the world.  At times I wonder if our lands our too rich.  Our markets are too abundant with variety.  I wonder if the character of local food gets diluted because chefs and cooks can choose from so many materials. Then again, that may not be a problem for you.  You like the fact that the Downtown Farmstand includes lemongrass and winter squash.    I did say lemongrass.  Our area soils get tilled by farmers with all sorts of backgrounds, so those grounds produce foods for all sorts of cuisines.  Make local Thai food. 

There are all sorts of other reasons the Downtown Farmstand shows why Chicago is a good place to eat local.  There is food from far-seeing indoor growers like Growing Power and Living Waters.  There are all sorts of finds like cornmeal and quality maple syrup.  There’s many good reasons to appreciate how lucky we are to get to eat local around here, and this little store on the east end of the Loop helps keep the jealousy at bay.

66 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60602
Chicago’s Downtown Farmstand is open 6 days a week, Monday through Saturday.

  • Monday – Friday, 11 am – 7 pm
  • Saturday, 11 am – 4 pm




  1. Robert says:

    Congratulations to Chicago’s Downtown Farmstand for receiving the 2011 Golden Beet Award from the Illinois Stewardship Alliance!!–20110414_1_winners-jim-slama-rick-bayless

    • I adore this place. There’s something really special about being in the Loop and not having to fret about making a Farmer’s Market because I can get vegetables, fruit, and dairy, from some of my favorite farmers right there.

      Well Done!

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