This Time of Year, We Read the Papers to Find Local Food

August 1, 2012 at 9:50 am

All year, we find local food, I mean find out about local food, several ways. We get reports of CSA boxes from April all the way through December. We know people selling at farmer’s markets, and now, selling at markets year-round. We visit various markets. We shop grocery stores from Whole Foods to Caputo’s, and starting around the end of July, we read the papers.

We go to the papers for their advertising supplements. We look at the inserts from Jewel, Dominicks, Ultra, Meijers, Caputo’s. We look at them all, even Aldi. We look to see what kind of local produce they are currently offering. We know from experience, that this time of year, nearly all of them offer some produce that is locally grown.

We love you buying your local food from Jewel. Of course, we love you buying your local food from the farmer’s market. We do not necessarily want you to forsake the market for the grocery store. You cannot beat the varieties offered at the farmer’s markets. You cannot beat the ability to meet your farmer. Still, we cannot always make it to the farmer’s market. And we all make decisions how we allocate our food budgets, and maybe if we spend more at the grocery store we also have more to spend at the farmer’s market. In other words, what we save plum tomatoes may allow us to buy more heirloom tomatoes. On the other hand, what’s often interesting about shopping the flyers, we see many instances where farmer’s markets prices very much compete with supermarket prices. To us, all local food is good, even if some is more good.

So, think of what kinds of local foods you can find around the Chicago area right now.

Meijer – This Michigan based grocery store has been promoting local produce for many years, surely before it became a marketing tool.  In addition to highlighting items, Meijer’s ad includes text on “home grown produce now in season.”

  • Cabbage
  • Roma tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Green beans
  • Radishes
  • Zucchini and summer squash
  • Hot peppers
  • Sweet corn
  • Romaine lettuce

Jewel – We’ve seen a bit of local produce already at Jewel including muskmelons and cucumbers.  In their current flier, they advertise the following:

  • Watermelon
  • Green beans

Ultra – We don’t spend much time in this store, but maybe we should.  Currently advertised, local produce:

  • Sweet corn
  • Zucchini and summer squash
  • Cucumbers

Dominicks – We remember when this was the dominant store in our area.  Now, we find so many of the stores tired and oddly expensive.  We do like that they see value in promoting local produce, and this week call attention to these items:

  • Sweet corn (Twin Gardens)
  • Zucchini and summer squash
  • Blueberries

Super Low Foods – A Centrella stocked company with three stores in the near West suburbs.  We suspect there’s a bit more local than what is currently advertised:

  • Roma tomatoes

Tony’s – This company runs four stores on the Northwest side of Chicago.  Currently, they seem to be appealing to the same crowd that goes out of their way for Baylor melons and Georgia peaches, as their flyer shows the things available local at some places like tomatoes and romaine lettuce, Tony shows as being from California.  Aside from Aldi, Tony’s is the only place that did not advertise local produce this week.

Aldi’s – In their flyer, Aldi’s does not list the origin of any of the produce.  We’ll grade it as incomplete.

Angelo Caputo’s – We shop often at the Elmwood Park location of this company that has five other locations in Chicago’s west and northwestern suburbs.  We know from our frequent visits that Caputo’s carries a strong committment to local produce.  A visit this week found plum and slicing tomatoes local, Melrose peppers, cabbage, green peppers, green beans and more.  Their flyer highlights only these things:

  • Pickles
  • Plum tomatoes – note, Caputo’s sells 1/2 bushels of local plum tomatoes for canning