Local Food’s Still in Store

August 29, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I cannot really seem to find time (really the concentration and focus) to blog local food.  At a minimum, however, I can tell you that local food still exists in stores.  By stores I mean grocery stores or places not your neighborhood farmer’s market.  So far this summer, I’ve mostly used the papers to tell you what’s in store, but today I have some field experience as well as my pile of inserts, and, by the way, that pile is bigger than usual.

My wife and I went shopping this morning at the Angelo Caputo’s grocery store near us in Elmwood Park.  We were surprised with local food even before we entered, and we were also reinforced with our belief that you’ll never know what’s local until you look.  In this case, my wife espied that the watermelons came from a Michigan farm.  So, into our cart when one melon.

As soon as we entered the store proper, we got a wave of local food; two kinds of peppers and big bushels of tomatoes.  We did not need any of those items.  We continued through the produce area where we found much more local produce including green beans, more types of peppers including green bell, hot banana and Melrose; eggplants, celery, zucchini and cabbage.  As much as we wanted to cheer and appreciate the offerings we did find something to give us pause.

Ever see cucuzza squash at your farmer’s market? Maybe Nichol’s grows this Italian variety of squash. Cucuzza means super-long, which is what this squash is. My wife and I actually know the Padrone of a Harlem Ave coffee shop that grows cucuzza so long they are, really, as tall as he is. The people who know this squash shop at Caputo’s. And a lot of people who shop at Caputo’s, just based on their store signs, are like me, in favor of local food.

Unfortunately, you have too see more than the sign. These sure do not look like they’re local.

With the rest, we just have to see what’s in the papers.

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.”  They make a big deal again this week in their ad. and report on much more than the few items featured:

  • Watermelon
  • Vine ripe tomatoes
  • Cilantro
  • Zucchini
  • Bi-color sweet corn

Jewel - We’ve local produce here during the summer, both in-store and in the supplements, but this week they advertise none.

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)
  • Michigan cucumbers
  • Michigan green bell peppers
  • Romaine and red leaf lettuces

Super Low Foods - A Centrella stocked company with three stores in the near West suburbs.

  • Illinois sweet corn

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.  Another week without local food.

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 - As I note above, there appears to be a lot of local produce in this store now.  Their flyer highlights just this:

  • Green beans

Butera – This chain has been around a long time, and currently has locations in the West and Northwest suburbs.  They advertise this:

  • Wisconsin russet potatoes

Food 4 Less - No local food.

A & G – No local food