The Frustrations of Spring with the Local Calendar

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April 1, 2011 at 2:06 pm

So, we move into April, Spring clearly ahead, yet into the most miserable of times for fans of eating local, at least fans living in the Chicago area.  The old triple whammy whips us.  First, we remain cold and dreary.  While Alic Waters out west can fill her menu with favas, asparagus, peas and artichokes, we have nary a spring crop.  Which brings us to second, the green actually getting going here, the edible shoots and leaves and ferns edible for only a short time, they have little ability to reach our markets.  And there are hardly any markets to get them at anyways.  Third, and finally, we expect our winter stores to be about gone.  Your roots can last, but can they last this long?  If you are lucky, you may still have the nearly indestructible potatoes, onions and hard squash to get you by.  We find Spring frustrating.

With very limited offerings around Chicago, we encourage you to explore our region.  There is no greater bounty of local food than at the Dane County Farmer’s Market in Madison, Wisconsin.  Even this time of year, you will find a mix of indoor grown vegetables and stored items.  Then, when the market goes outdoors on April 16, you will find a wide selection of what Spring an actually offer in the Upper Midwest.  In fact, we that while a trip to Madison will satisfy your shopping needs, it will only increase your frustrations because something like that does not exist in Chicago.

WHAT TO BUY NOW

This is the barest time of year on the Local Calendar.  If you don’t have your own stores of food look for indoor grown vegetables:like lettuces, spinach, micro-greens, mushrooms, cucumbers, herbs, rocket; maybe you will find some  root vegetables : beets, carrots, celery root, sunchokes, while there should still be storage crops like onions, potatoes and apples.

Do resist the tyranny of the fresh.  We expect you can find frozen and dried fruits from Seedlings at various markets.  Tomato Mountain does all sorts of things with its Wisconsin tomatoes, not just salsas; I love the pickles made by River Valley Kitchen.  The Downtown Farmstand sells Three Sisters Garden dried beans.  Use the local.

WHAT TO BUY SOON

It won’t be long, but the first things to spring: watercress, ramps, sorrel, fiddle-head ferns, nettles, and green garlic.    In addition, you may find farmers producing cold hearty root vegetables in their hoop houses; those in Spring CSAs, especially, may soon see turnips, beets, and radishes.  Let us know when you start seeing these products.

WHERE TO FIND LOCAL FOODS

These stores specialize in local foods:

It’s open! Eat locally butchered meat at the Butcher and the Larder.

C&D Pastured Pork’s sales around town.

New! We learned of an Indiana farm growing lettuces, basil and rocket (a/k/a arugula) indoors called Eden Farms.  They sell mostly now in Indiana, but they also sell to the Sunset Foods stores on the North Shore. 

Your local grocery may not be carrying living waters lettuces, but look around for what they may have local.  You can almost for sure find local apples and potatoes, maybe onions at various grocery stores. A recent visit to Angelo Caputo’s in Elmwood Park found a whole new rush of Michigan apples, including varieties not seen earlier this winter like empire and gala.

WHAT TO DO NOW

Saturday - April 2

Geneva – Geneva Community Market – Inglenook Pantry – 11 N. 5th Street, Geneva – 9 AM – 1 PM

Chicago – Winter market associated with Faith in Place at McCormick Theological Seminary – 5460 S. University Ave, Chicag0 – 10 AM - 2 PM

Sunday – April 3

Wednesday – April 6

Springfield – Local Food Awareness Day! - Local foodies, farmers, and citizens from across the state will come together in Springfield to encourage their legislators to support local food and farms. Illinois Stewardship Alliance invites you to join us for our 2nd annual local food and farm lobby day in Springfield on April 6th, from 10a.m. – 3p.m. at the Pasfield House and IL State Capitol Complex in Springfield.  More here from our friends at the Illinois Stewardship Alliance.

Chicago – Soup and Bread at the Hideout benefiting local food pantries – 1354 W. Wabansia, Chicago – 530 PM – 730 PM

WHAT TO DO SOON

Saturday - April 9

Chicago – Winter market associated with Faith in Place at Beverly Unitarian Church-  12 PM – 3 PM

Chicago – Green City Market – Theme:– 8 AM – 1 PM – Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Sunday – April 10

Monthly Glenwood Farmer’s Market, Winter Market – 6956-58 N. Glenwood, Chicago – 9AM – 1 PM

SAVE THE DATE!

April 18 - Our friend Jon-David, the Mafia Hairdresser, made us aware of  GREEN CHICAGO @ Joseph Michael’s Salon & Spa..
GREEN CHICAGO is an Earthday Celebration where “Social Media Royalty meet Chicagoland Green Groups” to mingle, have fun & learn about each other. Your ticket includes munchies, fabulous beverages & a special “Mafia-Mojito” made by jon-david.  Pepsi Refresh Challenge winner, Alicia Ontiveros, will be screening a portion of Meet the Gulf, her documentary about the people in the Gulf of Mexico affected by the BP Oil Spill.  All ticket and raffle purchasers go into weekly raffles leading up to the event and 1 lucky Ticket Event attendee will win a Hair Make-Over at Joseph Michael’s Salon & Spa.  Mother Nature herself will be your special guest ambassador and show you how a salon can turn into a GREEN CHICAGO tradeshow and how a spa can turn into a screening room.  At this event green-guy/writer/hairdresser jon-david will be launching & signing his book, Mafia Hairdresser, and all proceeds will go to Climate Cycle, the May 22nd Chicago fun bike ride which put solar power in Chicago schools. You will also be able to sign up for Climate Cycle. Pre-Purchase your book and pick it up at Green Chicago, 1313 Ritchie Ct. anytime after March 31.  TICKETS now on sale VIA EVENTBRITE .  See also the Mafia Hairdresser site for more information.

April 30 – GreenNet’s 19th Annual Green & Growing Urban Gardening Fair – Garfield Park, Chicago

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