How ’bout “We Like Food That Does Not Suck”

August 18, 2011 at 10:43 am

The Chicago Tribune did a nice job on Wednesday profiling some local food businesses.

While distinctive products and savvy marketing seem key to the success of all these locavore businesses, many are focusing on the use of locally sourced ingredients and other sustainable business practices in their efforts. The exotic flavor pairings Elizabeth Madden whips up in the Oak Park kitchen of her Rare Bird Preserves — like peach lavender and apricot almond — have tripled in sales this year compared with 2010. Equally important to her customers, and to her, though, is the fact that all of her fresh fruits come from local farmers markets.

Similarly, Jessica Volpe gets all the produce for her Pasta Puttana products from the vendors who come twice a week to Green City Market in Lincoln Park, and she speaks with zeal about the importance of “supporting the circle” of local food producers. Sandra Holl’s Floriole Bakery products also incorporate locally sourced ingredients, with most coming from Green City vendors. She estimates that her business has quadrupled in the five years she has been baking, as she expanded from three products to 20.

Hey, these are great reasons to eat local and to support local food businesses, but how ’bout this. We want food that does not suck.

About six years ago, I turned my obsession to finding good food to finding good local food. See, I found again and again, that the best way to feed my need for good food was to eat local. And I found that by concentrating on local, I could get better food than I had had, not just in the obvious areas like peaches and eggs but in a lot more areas that went in my mouth. The exciting fruit pate of Flora Lazar or the stone pot baked breads of Crumb; Rare Bird’s jam’s and Jo-Marie’s cookies. I could go on forever on exciting and worthwhile products. The spread in the Trib catches some good and popular ones.

I’ve learned a lot of things from eating local these years. Probably the most important, I learned that local is not the end but the means. All the things I value in food: respect for the environment, humane treatment of animals, reduced food miles, and especially, taste, come easier through local food. Get the stuff mentioned in the Chicago Tribune. Unlike so much food out there, it does not suck.