The Local Calendar Has Weeds

July 22, 2011 at 7:58 am

As wont for the event, we ate exceedingly well Thursday at the Green City Market BBQ.  As last year, we could not possibly taste all of the fare, or drink all of the beverages, but we left confident as always that the way to eat best was to eat local.  For instance, a tiny slice of peach within Dale Levitski’s yogurt, granola, herb, berry concoction really stood out for flavor intensity.  Still, the best dish of the night in our eyes, and we say this not just because it included our namesake beets, was the smoked trout, purslane and zingy dressing offering from Leopold (it would be unfair to single out all the other great food, there was so much).  Of course not only do we like beets we love eating our weeds.

We think it is the thriftiness of it that makes us love edible weeds.  Between a cultivate leaf of rocket and a wild leaf of lamb’s quarter, does one really taste better?  Yet, on our plates, we always prefer the bonus bit that nature provided.  There are other arguments in favor of edible weeds.  Michael Pollan has written on their extra nutrional intensity.  We bet there are various eco reasons too about using the things that sprout up instead of the things needing to be planted.  If anything, we wish the market bore more weeds.  Prime weed season, of nettles and edible ferns, tends to come in early Spring when our markets are just anticpatory thoughts.  Still, careful shoppers can find some good stuff out there now.

We saw huge bunches of wild watercress from Nichol’s Farm this week.  Our market intelligence suggests that purslane and lamb’s quarters can be found.  At Green City Market, the farms of Three Sisters and Green Acres are especially good places to find the latest in edible junk.  Generally, we like our lamb’s quarters quickly cooked, one of those saute with the clinging water kind of recipes.  Purslane, which can be found abundantly in sidewalks all over Chicago, we like raw, in Middle Eastern style  tart salads.  By the way, looking for your own weeds, check out this old Beet piece from Michael Gebert.

Find weeds and the rest of the summer produce at a market near you, with our searchable, sortable, Market Locator.  Then, take our farmer’s market shopping tips to get the most out of your area market.  And don’t forget to put enough away for local eating later.  See our suggested best practices for preserving the seasonal bounty.


It’s time to indulge in summer.  We’ve seeing tomatoes, cucumbers, the first hot peppers, eggplants and sweet corn.  There are peaches.

In other fruit news, try some currants, they won’t be around that long, and if you missed strawberries, a crop of everbearing is showing up in the market.  Don’t think apples are for later.




Please remember that the seasonal apples, onions and potatoes in the market now are not meant for long term cellaring.  In fact, the need to be kept in the fridge or they will spoil easily.


These stores specialize in local foods:

City Provisions Deli in Ravenswood, Chicago

Downtown Farmstand in the Loop, Chicago

Green Grocer in West Town, Chicago

Dill Pickle Coop in Logan Square, Chicago

Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park

Butcher and Larder in Noble Square, Chicago

We have received reports of some local foods at Whole Foods including blueberries, beets, herbs, and lettuces.  This is the time of year were you will also begin to see local food at your neighborhood market.  Caputo’s noted in their weekly flyer that their cucumbers and green beans came from local farms.


July 23 – Really need an excuse to visit the Logan Square Farmer’s Market?  Well, after the market packs up, go over with the hipsters to the Summer Sessions on the Square.  People who know these things tell us the groups are very good.

August 3 — Outstanding in the Field with Paul Virant of Vie and Bare Knuckle Farm, Northport, MI. There are a lot of great farm dinners with local farms this summer with Outstanding in the Field, but join The Local Beet in making the trek north for this one, as it promises to be special as anyone who has tasted Bare Knuckle’s pork belly from Duroc Cross hogs can attest. More information here.

August 2 – Slow Food Chicago presents “Farm Together Now” discussion + potluck with local author Daniel Tucker.  Free admission, seats available on a first-come, first-served basis. Bring a side dish or dessert to share for a potluck.  See here for additional details.

August 4 – 4th Annual Micro-Brew Review in Oak Park to benefit Seven Generations Ahead – Go here for tickets.

August 6 – Open House at Growing Home – Don’t miss Growing Home’s Summer Open House at the Wood Street Urban Farm, Chicago’s first USDA Certified Organic production farm with year-round growing capabilities. Enjoy the summer harvest with a cookout, a tour of the farm, a gardening workshop for all ages, and of course, fresh veggies at the farm stand. – 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm – 5814 S. Wood Street, Chicago

August 14 – Slow Food Chicago Book Club – This month’s selection, Cod: A Biography of a Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky.  First Slice Pie Cafe, 4401 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago – 2 -330 PM.

August 16 – Little Bee, Big Mystery – Join the Notebaert Nature Museum and Slow Food Chicago for a thought provoking series about bees, including a screening of the film, the Vanishing of the Bees.  Free, but you must RSVP to adultprograms {at} naturemuseum(.)org.

August 28 – Cork & Crayons Benefit for Purple Asparagus at UnCommon Ground – The family-friendly event brings foodies old and young together to celebrate the joys of family meals and healthy eating all for and to support the good works of our friends at Purple Asparagus.   The event will include a mini farmers’ market sponsored by Harvest Moon Organics farm, music from Old Town School of Folk Music artists, a raffle, and a silent auction for bidding on gourmet treats, getaways, and more. Guests will enjoy selections from Uncommon Ground’s kitchen and Candid Wines. Attendees will also be able to tour the certified-organic green roof atop Uncommon Ground where the restaurant grows some of the produce on its menu.  $60 for adults ($65 at the door), $15 for ages 5-20 ($20 at the door). Kids under 5 are free.  Tickets can be purchased via credit card at or by check payable to Purple Asparagus sent in care of Melissa Graham, 1824 W Newport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657 - Uncommon Ground, 1401 W. Devon Ave., Chicago

September 11 – Slow Food Chicago Presents 3rd Annual Pig Roast at Goose Island – SAVE THE DATE!