How Much Longer will Tomatoes Be on the Local Calendar

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September 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Do you know the difference between locavores and others when it comes to watching the weather segments.  We focus on the low not the high, at least this time of year.  We know it can be decent enough out there in the sun, but what was it like when we weren’t around, in the pre-dawn cold.  See, Jack Frost can sneak in on us and ruin our days, even if the sun shines bright.  See, a little too much Jack, regardless of the highs to follow, will kill our beloved summer fruits.  It’s not the high that matters for tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, etc., but the low.  Eat your tomatoes now, they could be gone in one fell swoop of daily low temperature.  And what better way to celebrate the last of the tomatoes than with Slow Food Chicago’s Tomatofest at the Chicago Honey Coop this Saturday, September 24.  Hope to see you there.

WHAT TO BUY NOW

Really,  we could list all the fall crops now in market like winter squash, broccoli, and chard, but we really exhort you to make good on the last tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, sweet corn, peppers.  The sun calendar may now say fall, but the Local Calendar remains, until that dreaded frost, in summer.  Also fill up on the summer fruits still around: plumspeachesblueberriesblackberries, and raspberries.   This is probably your last week for those.

Although we never tire of tomatoes and cucumbers, we do think you may also want to keep on an out for the little seasonal delicacies that pop up.  Maybe it is a special variety of apple you like, the my wife likes the Macoun.  If you shop Green City or Andersonville, you may find Oriana and her paw-paws and persimmons.  Even local grapes won’t be around forever.  If you see something new and special, grab it.

WHAT TO BUY SOON (OR LOOK FOR KEENLY)

Except for certain varieties of apples and potatoes, pretty much the entire variety of local foods will have been on display by this weekend.  What you should plan to buy soon is some of your storage crops.  Think also about which apples or potatoes you want around.  For instance, Northern Spys are a great keeper apple and the classic pie apple of the Midwest. If you see it now in the markets, you may want to get it and not wait a few weeks.  It might not be for sale then.

STORAGE NOTES

Most of the onions now in the market have been dried and “cured”, allowing for long term-storage.  On the other hand, we see a mix still of potatoes.  There are older potatoes, that is those more than a few weeks old and there are freshly dug potatoes.  The new potatoes are not meant for storage.  If in doubt, ask the farmer.  Also with the apples, if in doubt on a particular variety, ask the farmer if it keeps.

WHERE TO FIND LOCAL FOODS

Find a farmer’s market near you with our market locator.

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

Pay attention, the local supermarkets continue to advertise local foods.

WHAT TO DO NOW

September 24 – Tomatofest Potluck at the Chicago Honey Co-op – Share in the bounty of local, heirloom tomatoes, see the interesting things being done at the Chicago Honey Co-op and even get your hands dirty picking beans at the preSERVE Garden.  Don’t forget wines donated by Candid and beer from Goose Island.  A great way to take in some of the last nice weather of 2011.  Additional information and tickets here.

September 24 – Urban Harvest, City Farms – A range of fun stuff being organized at the City Farm, Division and Clyborn from 4-9 PM.  Additional information and tickets can be found here.

September 25 – Canning workshop with Growing Home - 2 PM – 4 PM - 5045 S. Laflin, Chicago. A $10 suggested donation covers cost of supplies.  Space is limited to 15 guests, and RSVP is required. Contact  bheathATgrowinghomeincDOTorg to reserve a spot.  Additional details here.

September 26 – Very interesting meeting from Chicago Fair Trade.  Susan Kerrs, from Local First Chicago, will share strategies for maintaining healthy neighborhood based business communities and the ways our organizations can collaborate, and John Peck of the Family Farm Defenders will share efforts to develop a fair trade certification for small farmers in the U.S, supporting the very principles used in the international certification.  As they say, free and open to CFT members, the committed and curious. – 637 S. Dearborn, Chicago – 6 PM

September 27 – Slow Food Chicago presents a “locals only” dinner featuring farm fresh fare and local beers at UnCommon Ground.  Information and tickets here.

October 4 – Local Beet blogger, Mo Tuffy guest bar tends at Prairie Fire to benefit Chicago House.  6 PM – 10 PM – 215 N. Clinton, Chicago

October 8 – Dig up the sweet potatoes at the preSERVE Garden.  10 AM – 2 PM. Details here.

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