Late Season Shopping List

Posted: October 31, 2014 at 9:47 am

Consider a CSA

This week ends the Oak Park Farmer’s Market for 2014. There are other markets open this weekend including Evanston, which will be going next week too, and Green City, while now indoors, will be full with fall produce. I have my list for this last day of shopping in my community. My list may look different than yours because I already have a strong backstop for my fall, winter and spring local eating. I subscribe to a year-round CSA. Before you make your shopping list for this weekend, consider signing up for a CSA. Use the Local Beet’s list to find options, nut you can do no worse than Tomato Mountain, my wife’s employer, who does an outstanding job of winter farming–that pic above is an example of a cold weather delivery.

How can you eat local year round in a place like Chicago. The question faced anytime I present on my family’s journey. A simple response: we put away food and we find sources of food. Over the ten years of being a Local Family, the ratio of we store to go to the store has changed. I like not having to rely so much on our root cellar in the sky. Relying on someone else to hold the food gives us two benefits. First, it saves us money. When we cold store our own food, we have a certain amount, what they would call in the retail business, shrinkage. That is, we expect some of the stored food to go bad before we can eat it. Buying as we need eliminates a lot of that problem. Second, as good as our root cellar in the sky functions, I believe others can do it better. If possible, leave it to the pro’s. My year-round CSA provides me an array of storage crops like onions, turnips and carrots. Moreover, my CSA provides me something green even on those darkest of days, like frost-kissed spinach. If you do not have a cold-season CSA, put one on your shopping list now.

My list for the week: tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers both sweet and hot, and maybe onions. As you can see aside from the onions, my focus remains on ending summer not starting winter. I have, however, used nearly everyone of my inventory of summer onions.onions

That’s all the onions I have right now.   At least I won’t need to get a CSA too.

The 2014 Garden in Review

Posted: October 30, 2014 at 9:49 pm

A secondary goal of my gardening hobby is to see how long I could feed my family of four (plus a vegetable-loving dog) from the nearly 450 square feet of fertile soil in my front and back yards, should the need ever arise. When I began this experiment, I might have kept us from starving for a few weeks. As my skills improved, I might have staved off cannibalization for well over a month, then two months. By 2014, I figure I’ve grown enough to feed us all for nearly four months. Although the reality is that the dog and I would have gobbled up the veggies while the kids held out for the promise of microwavable burritos. Even better, though, I’ve learned to preserve and can food. Although this requires an investment in vinegar and sealing lids, if I could convince everybody to eat pickles, dilly beans and thawed collard greens, we could extend our hypothetical, miserable, vegan lives another few weeks. Then the dog would envision us as large, walking turkey drumsticks and probably eat us while we sleep.

Fortunately, I don’t need to worry about these prospects. My primary goal with gardening has never been survival, but

  • To enjoy the freshest organic produce possible
  • To secure bragging rights on my ability to grow lots of stuff
  • To help build a sustainable northern Illinois food system

I like that my kids understand what crops grow well in this climate and that we can make a spontaneous breakfast of peapods and cherry tomatoes on a July day when the weather is right and the harvest seasons overlap for these two easy-to-grow treats. I have overloaded neighbors and friends with bags of heirloom lettuce and other expensive treats. And in my own modest way, I feel like every pound of food I growin Cook County is one less pound that must be shipped from a drought-stricken acre in Fresno County, California. I also help run a farmer’s market, and help introduce residents of my village, neighbors, and passers-by to the charms of locally grown produce.

Below are the results of my 2014 growing attempts, ranked from worst to best.

2014 Worst Results

I tried growing these indoors last winter and hoped to plant them outside by spring. They didn’t survive past January. I even bought a special LED growing light, but to no avail. Total investment in artichokes: $15

Brussel Sprouts
One lesson I’ve learned again this year is the capriciousness of climate. For several years now, former Brussels sprouts haters have changed their tune after eating my fresh-from-the-stalk sprouts and became Brussels sprouts players. My dependable Brassicas yielded ginormous harvests every fall. But the 2014 excessive rain combined and early attacks by caterpillars conspired to blacken and destroy the budding sprouts on the stalks before they could repair themselves. In prior years, wasps rescued me by destroying the larvae before they could grow and reproduce.
But this year, the entire crop reached a point of no return, and the remaining gnarly, knobby stalks look like misaligned spinal columns. At best, they may serve as creepy Halloween decorations.
Total investment in Brussels sprouts this year, $10.

The taters were delicious but few. I planted these in pots rather than in raised beds so as to isolate them and limit the spread of soil disease. However, the top soil I planted them in may have been too dense and lacking nutrients. Each pot yielded two or three decent spuds. Barely a single meal and not worth the investment of $6.50.

These nightshades didn’t do so great either. Although the stalks and leaves looked healthy, the flowers didn’t see much pollination and the heat and sunlight didn’t arrive when needed. We harvested four or five medium-sized eggplants for an investment of $4.

Not So Great Results


Some heirlooms with a carrot

Some heirlooms with a carrot

Other gardeners I know had a great year for tomatoes. Most of us did not. Of my 10 plants, I probably harvested no more than 4 lbs. of heirloom and run-of-the-mill fruits. I think this may be the result of bees not being available when the flowers opened. Even as the cold weather approached, some unpollenated flowers were desperately calling out for insects that never came. And the bulk of the crop were tough and green by the time I pulled them out of the soil. Although I saw a last-minute bumper crop of red cherry tomatoes on a few plants, the frost hit them, and they tasted awful. Tomato plant investment was about $15.


Green but not as tasty

Green but not as tasty

As fall sank in a few weeks ago, the nightshades took advantage of any warm sunny days to make a last-ditch effort to reproduce by sprouting a whole bunch of tiny fruits. The peppers made a desperate attempt at this and gave us just enough to pickle and sautee a few. They did not taste terrible, but were not memorable either. Total cost: $8.


After two lean years, we finally got a cup of raspberries out of the thorny bush. We only discovered this because Tesla found them first. Guess that’s one more fence we have to build. The original plant was free–taken from a relative’s yard, so even a single berry is a bonus. But after Tesla took his share, there wasn’t enough for the humans to enjoy even a small pie. Total investment: $0.

Wheat Grass
I have previously written about Ringo and the aquafarm. I am happy to report that he found a new home with our dog sitter, but they disposed of the plastic fish tank and growing medium because it was attracting small insects. Plus, nobody in my house (except the dog) likes wheat grass that much. Total investment: $100.

Good Results


Carrots, cukes and beans

Carrots, cukes and beans

In the loose, well-fertilized raised beds in which my carrots grew, they did wonderful. Some were purple; some were orange. All were tasty. I was loathe to give them away because I enjoyed eating them so much. If they hadn’t been so hard to clean, few might not have made it as far as the kitchen before being eaten. We ended up with five or six healthy bunches. Even the kids enjoyed snacking on these. There’s nothing like a home-grown dragon carrot to remind you what a farce those nubby little pre-cut orange things really are. Total investment: $6.


A mature beat pops up above the soil, ready to harvest
A mature beat pops up above the soil, ready to harvest


As I write this, my second planting of beets–growing under glass in a raised bed–is doing quite nicely. Between the delicious greens and the sweet roots, we had several wonderful meals and two large pots of Russian borscht soup. The third pot was a snafu because I accidentally planted turnips and they were hard to distinguish from the beets until we tasted the result and agreed it was best to dump the entire pot down the sink. It was THAT bad. And I HATE to waste food. Total investment: $6


I planted the herb at the end of the growing season, and as of November 1, several lush, green bouquets of aromatic parsley are spread out among the garden. I can’t give the stuff away fast

enough. As a garnish, most of us can only consume a little bit of it. A co-worker froze and dried a bag, but even he protested that I gave him too much. Total investment: $3.

Can a person get sick of eating sweet peas right off the vine each morning for breakfast and then as an after-work snack? You betcha. Fortunately, a co-worker LOVED them and would share a handful each day for about a month. These things wouldn’t stop growing! In late August, they should have been long gone, but they kept coming back over and over again, tasting just as fresh as they would have in late spring. I saved a huge pile of shelled peas to plant in 2015, but I hadn’t let them dry enough, and mold set in. I dumped them out, but my co-worker offered to buy seeds next year just to ensure I’ll keep growing more snacks for him. Total investment: $4


Fresh asparagus grows among kale

Fresh asparagus grows among kale

Yay asparagus! When we first planted these years ago, there was no guarantee we’d ever see a return on our investment. After a fallow year, though, these have been springing up reliably each spring. Oddly, we were getting new shoots in September! I let these fern out and collect the sun insead of eating them. Hopefully this will contribute to an even healthier crop in 2015. Total investment: $0.

As with other produce, we grew morethan we wanted to eat and had only a few people who would take it off our hands. Even in November, these continued to grow. Some grew through the fence that we use to keep the dog out of the garden, and he nibbled the leaves down to the stub. Total investment: $6.

Sunflowers are also volunteers that I’ve let grow where they want to help attract pollenators. The birds and the bees and the squirrels clean the flower heads of seeds pretty quickly, and the sturdy stalks provide ladders for climbing vines. Total 2014 investment in dill: $0.

I’m not a flower kinda guy. I like to plant practical edibles. But I’m aware that I need bees to help me out, so I devoted an entire 4 x 10 bed in the alley to what looks like a hot mess of brightly colored petals planted by absent-mindedly scattering a bag of seeds with no plan whatsoever. The result was a lot of bees buzzing around the flowers and hopefully my vegetable flowers as well. Although the bees did not show up in early spring when they were needed. Nonetheless, the flowers worked, and if the bees live to see 2015, maybe they’ll remember me and come by earlier. Total investment: $6.

Green Onions and Chives
I planted these years ago and they keep coming back. I love their flowers and I love the audible POP they make when I break off the stem. They are mild and tasty, hearty and they grow back quickly (what with being hollow like bamboo and all). They’re one of the first plants to appear in the spring and the last one available in the fall. Total 2014 investment: $0.

Fantastic Results


We had far more lettuce than we could deal with. Because the cool and rainy spring stretched into the summer, and because we planted lettuce in a semi-shady zone, the tender leaves grew back as quick as we could tear them off. We gave bags of the stuff away, ate until we could eat no more, and left the bulk of it to grow unharvested until it finally bolted in August. If I estimate a value of $3 a lb. and that we harvested and gave away at least 30 lbs. of lettuce, I’m guessing the value of the harvest was $90. Even in November, arugala continues to grow on the front lawn and tastes as fresh and delicious as the expensive bags you find at specialty grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Total 2014 investment in lettuce: $12.

Two ways to dispose of extra cucumbers

Two ways to dispose of extra cucumbers

We would have given more cucumbers away, but most people who tried growing them this year DID grow them, and didn’t need any handouts. I overplanted cucumbers from a single packet of seeds, and almost every seed wound up as a vine so thick that its leaves concealed some of its offspring and many fruits were able to grow to ridiculous sizes before we found them. Although they tasted better small, the big ones came in handy and my sons chided me several times, “Please, dad. Don’t make ANOTHER gazpacho!” Total investment: $3

Growing among the cucumber plants, these bush beans were equally as hard to find sometimes amidst the overgrown leaves. Often when we did, they had grown to gigantic proportions. Some of them were almost a foot long. Some tasted good raw. We roasted and sauteed others. I canned a lot. The dog enjoyed them as well. We gave some away, but found few takers. Just not a popular vegetable, but really easy to grow. And I saved enough so I don’t have to buy new seeds in 2015. Total investment: $6.


Garlic dries on the porch

Garlic dries on the porch

The garlic harvest was wonderful. I didn’t pay a dime for the cloves because I planted the biggest from last year’s harvest. I was able to give a garlic bulb to anybody who asked, make a whole
bunch of jars of dill pickles and beans and still have plenty leftover to plant again in the next few weeks for next year’s harvest. Total 2014 investment in garlic: $0.


Dill weeds grow amok

Dill weeds grow amok

Dill is also a plant that I spent nothing to grow. It is officially a weed (or a volunteer, if we’re trying to be politically correct) and has gained a foothold all over our back yard and alley. The woody
stalks help the cucumber vines find sunlight and the seeds and fronds go into the dill pickles and beans. Total 2014 investment in dill: $0.

On top of the money I spent on seeds and seedlings, I purchased a little organic fertilizer, top soil and wood to build new raised beds. However, I feel I’ve managed to limit my spending on perennials and to save seeds and thus cost year after year.

Cut Along Dotted Line

Posted: October 30, 2014 at 10:14 am

Eat Local Squash

cut along dotted line


My theory, unsupported by diligent research, is that a reason people do not eat local is because they do not want to eat the foods required of eating local.  See, by the end of October, the Chicago locavore’s diet tends towards roots and squash.  Do you want to eat roots and squash?  The work involved in preparing winter squashes keeps it off shopping lists.  Easier to make asparagus or green beans no matter how wooden or banal they taste over 365 days.   The answer to easier squash comes right on the plant.

There are three ways to deal with hard squashes: one difficult, one often leading  to insipid or puerile concoctions, and a better, yet less used way.  Try peeling hard squashes.  It starts like an M.C. Esher enterprise as you keep on turning and twisting , trying to figure out where it should stand, how you should proceed.  Then, you loose half the meat as you try to remove its skin without removing your skin.  I like to use big chunks of squash in recipes, for instance, roasting and tossing in a bowl with honey and jalepenos (or some kind of dried pepper if you’ve run out of fresh).  I do peel, but I abhor the work involved in getting to chunks.  To many, squash is that soup served at Thanksgiving to quell the guests while the turkey rests (or to make the meal seem “elegant” by presenting it in courses?).  Mostly, to me, squash soups do not work.  The Swanson canned broth sneaks into the flavor too much.  Some cooks ladle out something more like dessert.  Yes, squashes stand up well to sweet flavors.  Most pumpkin for pies, the stuff in cans, come from squashes.  I just do not like watered down candy-puree in hope of re-creating something Martha Stewart did years ago on Good Morning America.  And purees, that is another way to use squash.  The principle issue with many attempts, is they use the wrong squash.  Commonly found squash like acorn and butternut can often make thin, flat tasting purees.  Great squash purees come from heirloom squash, especially the blue hubbard.  That, my friend, can be a lot of work, but the resulting fluff will be worth your trouble.   This post, though, is about avoiding trouble.

The least difficult way to approach an acorn squash is to wedge it.  Just cut on the dotted lines.  What makes acorn squash impossible to peel makes them easy to slice.  It is all in the valleys. The outside of an acorn squash is a series of undulating hills.  In between those highs you thrust your knife.  The first plunge may scare, but soon you are following the safety of that Goddess created guide.  She won’t let you err.  Make your first cut all around, cleaving the squash in two.  Place the flat side on a cutting board, now use your lines, you know them now, to cut slabs.  You want about an inch and a half of squash per slice.  Remove the seeds.  Keep as much of the stringy bits as you can as that part tastes good.  All it takes from here is a little olive oil and salt.  Coat and lay on a baking tray.  I like to line my pan with parchment to ease the mess.  Preheat your oven to a roaring 425.  It will take less than a half-hour, use your nose to guide you to when they are toasty, but not burnt.  The resulting flesh will be soft with a honeyed crust.  They require no additional seasoning, although my instinct is to add hot peppers.  Done this way, often, you can even, often, eat the skin.

In the lessons I gave the other day, I told you to fill your own box of winter squash to prepare for the months with limited supplies of local food.  You do not need a root cellar to store squash.  They will live long, at house temperature.  After you have your squash, you will know what to do with it.  Cut along the dotted lines.

Last Minute Locavore Lessons

Posted: October 28, 2014 at 10:37 am

Eat Local Later

box o' acorns

That’s a box o’ acorn squash getting us ready for local eating all winter. Filling your own crate of squash is one of the last minute lessons I have for you as run out of time, with our Chicago area markets winding down. It takes no special abilities, no arduous tasks to put away hard squashes. Just fill a box. Before getting to other lessons, however, I want to get a few housekeeping matters out of the way. I promised a “Cooking For Two” post that would explain the huge lapses in posts. I have exacerbated that by avoiding the Cooking For Two post. You will see, soon, I hope, the reason, a decent one, for the disappearance of the Local Family in blog. Second, of more mundane matters, this time of year, I would normally be all over root cellaring, my own and the bibliography of Local Beet posts from prior years of the topic. The freakish late Indian Summer has limited cold storage and the usefulness of talking about cold storage. I’ll get to it when I get to it. What I need to get at are things to do now.

Back in those halcyon days when I occasionally posted  instead of not at all, I provided some easy ways to eat local later. Let’s continue that path because by Halloween no one’s canning 50 pounds of tomatoes or looking to put away the season’s bounty. It’s more like, OMG, this is the last week, what do I do. Without buying up mason jars (even if they may now be on sale) or packing up the freezer, there are several ways to extend your market. Start with tomatoes.

are these the last tomatoes 2

Not all my current inventory of tomatoes look pretty. The pain of cutting away unusable tomato flesh gets mitigated by lesser price I have been paying for these late season heirlooms. The photo lesson here is that you do not need a perfect tomato to have a good tomato, especially when you can eat any tomatoes in November. The other lesson, not apparent in the picture is that some of these tomatoes were purchased less than fully ripe. Or to be more clear on the lesson, as long as a tomato is harvested with the ripening process started, no matter how green and hard the tomato starts on your counter, it will eventually get somewhere closer to edible. Sure, these will not be your peak Caprese salad tomatoes, but as I say, the base level for a good tomato falls as your diet otherwise fills with roots and other cold weather crops. Believe me, there is pleasure left in those last tomatoes. So, stock up on what you find. Be patient with them. Coax as much red as you can. Cauterize around the parts that go bad too soon. That’s your first lesson.

Second lesson, know what survives. I told you above that root cellaring would be left for another time. Before you fill your cellar, fill your fridge. The essential lesson of root cellaring is that with a lot of cold, a decent amount of moisture and enough darkness, many fruits and vegetables can stay succulent and edible for long periods. Your fridge is cold. As long as its door is shut, your fridge is dark. What it’s not, though, is dank. There’re workaround for that, you can use a fridge as a root cellar, but remember, this is not a root cellaring post. Today’s lesson is all about good enough. Your fridge is good enough for grapes, for Asian pears, for ABA. See in a month or so, your local fruit selection will be apples or apples. Which means, for me at least, you want now, ABA, anything but apples. Local grapes, Concords and what not, stay just fine for long periods in your fridge. Cram as many as you can in there to keep from getting to your apple supplies. Second lesson is easy to learn.

Third lesson and last lesson for today requires work. I’m talking the bane of my locavore existence, roasting peppers. There is nothing I love and loathe more. Exquisite enjoyment in eating, exquisite torture in preparation. Yes, after many years of experimentation in methods, I have mastered the roasted pepper. Step one, flame-roast the peppers. Ensure a good, even, total char, think the New Zealand rugby team, all-black. Step two, put cooked peppers in a bowl, seal tight with plastic wrap. Wait. This process will loosen the skins and make the peeling much easier. If. You. Wait. Step three, with a knife, scrap off the black, the seeds, the pith, the stems, anything you don’t want to eat. I’ve tried fingers, which makes a huge mess and running water which sacrifices an enormous amount of flavor. The knife does not remove effort or time, but it’s the best you can do. There’s a fourth step in there if you want, save the pepper juice, but I never find I get enough to follow that step. Step five A/five B, make the magic happen. There’s roasting peppers and there’s roasting peppers for the season. With this extra work, you can make your peppers last a long time. Option A, make a weak pickling solution, maybe 1/2 water to vinegar, pack your peppers in there with a small amount of sugar to balance the flavors. Or use oil. If you submerge your roasted peppers in oil, you will have an effective barrier from rot. In the fridge, both styles of peppers will last for at least six weeks. You can find lots of peppers left in these last markets, follow this lesson to get the most of your purchases.

Beyond the time it takes to roast peppers, we’re not talking much to do to follow through on this week’s lessons. Stock up on squash, let tomatoes ripen, fill your fridge with grapes. Do not regret what could have been as you enter the darker days.


Posted: October 26, 2014 at 2:25 pm

From the Illinois Farm Bureau website:

Attend the fourth annual Local and Regional Food Summit and learn from leaders in the local and regional food industry on all the different projects taking shape. Speakers will include those from the retail grocery, foodservice distribution, university foodservice, food hub, specialty crops, meat processing, dairy, value-added products, community supported agriculture organization and more!

The event will be held at Heartland Community College, Astroth Community Education Center, 1500 West Raab Road, Normal, IL. from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Nov. 13, 2014.  This one-day event is hosted by the Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Department of Agriculture and Heartland Community College.


Conference registration fee is $20 per participant and includes all conference materials, lunch, and breaks. A buffet lunch will feature several local and regional foods prepared by Chef Scott Rowan and provided by Heartland Community College. Due to limited seating, registration must be completed by November 6, 2014. Registration is first come, first served.  There is NO ON-SITE REGISTRATION.  Register here:

A special Meet the Farmer/Meet the Buyer function will take place in the afternoon.  We have several buyers attending and some of them include Mariano’s, U.S. Foods, Local Foods, Inc., Schnucks, County Market, Testa Produce, Standard Market, CH Robinson, Medici’s Restaurant, Whole Foods, and more. Buyers will be looking for all types of products such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, meats, value-added products, nuts, and more.


2014 Local and Regional Food Summit

Planned Speakers


Mary Beth Trakinat, Vice President of Advancement, Heartland Community College


Cynthia Haskins, Manager of Business Development and Compliance, Illinois Farm Bureau


Kendra Schilling, Local Food Liaison, Illinois Department of Agriculture


Zina Murray, Owner, Logan Square Kitchen


Dr. George Czapar, Associate Dean and Director of University of Illinois Extension and Outreach, Ron Duncan, Extension Educator, Community and Economic Development and

Bill Davison, Extension Educator, Small Farms and Local Food Systems


Steve Jarzombek, Vice President of Produce at Roundy’s (Corporate Headquarters for Mariano’s)


Joan Daleo, President, Ole Tyme Produce, Inc.


Brad Uken, Manager, Champaign County Farm Bureau, Champaign, IL., and Roman Fox, Agriculture Teacher, Rantoul Public Schools


Dave Alwan, Owner, Echo Valley Meats


Michael O’Gorman, Executive Director, Farmers’ Veteran Coalition

Ben Shaffar, Director of Business Development, Kentucky Department of Agriculture


Evan Smith, Chief of Operations, Cherry Capital Foods


Jim Slama, Founder and President,


Paula J. Bruck, Director National Accounts, Healthcare & Education, U.S. Foods, Streator, IL


Dianne Feasley, Registered Dietitian, Associate Director, and Matt Horton, Executive Chef of Campus Dining, Illinois State University


Jim Fraley, Livestock Program Director, Illinois Farm Bureau, Bloomington, IL


Christopher D. Merrett, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, Western Illinois University

MEET THE FARMERS, MEET THE BUYERS NETWORKING EVENT (3:15-5:00 PM) (farmers and buyers only)


Presented by the The Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association


The Portrait of a Soldier exhibit is a traveling display of hand-sketched portraits of fallen service members from Illinois who have been killed since September 11, 2001 in the Global War on Terror and will be on display during the Summit. Artist Cameron Schilling, a Mattoon native, drew the first portrait in August 2004, after Army SPC Charles Neeley, also of Mattoon, was killed in Iraq. Schilling gave the sketch to SPC Neeley’s parents to convey his sympathy for their loss. In October 2005, while a student at Eastern Illinois University, Schilling decided to draw a portrait of every Illinois service member who has fallen during the Global War on Terror. The portraits are copies of the original, which has been given to the fallen soldiers next of kin. The exhibit travels throughout the state of Illinois.



The Local Calendar 10/15/14 Huckleberry, Graze Golden Delicious, Food Swap, The Northman Pop-Up, Fund A Farmer, Green Pumpkins, A Mostly Veggie Affair

Posted: October 15, 2014 at 10:06 am


The corn pictured above is pretty a-maizing and can be found on the tables of Nichols Farms at the Green City, Division Street, MCA and Daley Plaza market to name a few. The colors are real and the variety is called glass gem, some call it stained glass or Indian corn. “Glass Gem corn is a stunning variety selected by Carl Barnes, a part-Cherokee farmer and breeder, from several traditional corn varieties. This variety was entrusted to Native Seeds/SEARCH by one of his students, Greg Schoen.  A non-profit organization, Native Seeds/SEARCH conserves, distributes and documents the adapted and diverse varieties of agricultural seeds, their wild relatives and the role these seeds play in cultures of the American Southwest and northwest Mexico.  Glass Gem corn produces a diversity of gorgeous translucent, jewel-colored ears, each one unique. A type of flint corn, the kernels may be ground into cornmeal or popped.”(From the Glass Gem Corn facebook page) Chicago may be named after the ramp, or wild onion, but we are the land of beets aka beetroot. There are plenty of beautiful beets on the farmers market tables! From a reliable source, I heard that many of the Black Hawks are crazy about beet juice, it is one of their nutritional weapons to enhance their endurance on the ice.

Alas, winter is coming and Green City Market moves indoors to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum on Saturday November 1.We have moved into the produce of fall: apples, squash, sweet potatoes, beets, pumpkins, onions, turnips, and the “prehistoric” looking vegetables, celery root, rutabagas, sun chokes and the “squash on steroids” gourds.

Now on to this week and the weeks ahead: tonight the WBEZ 7th Annual Chef’s Battle at Kendall College, Thursday Huckleberry at Floriolethe Graze Magazine Issue 6 Golden Delicious Release Party on Saturday, The Northman Pop-Up 10/20, Fund A Farmer at Uncommon Ground Devon 10/22, Green Pumpkin Gala 10/23 and 11/13, the always super creative A Mostly Veggie Affair supporting the Green City Market.

                                                                      The Week’s Local Calendar and Beyond

October 15

Chicago - Chicago Ideas Week Food The Path To Your Plate - 12pm – 1:30pm Presented by Edelman

ChicagoWBEZ 7th Annual Chicago Chef Battle - 6pm Kendall College You have a chance to check out Chef Chrissy Camba’s dumplings that will be featured at her up and coming Maddy’s Dumpling House.

ChicagoEataly Wine Around: A Walkaround Tasting With 40 Select Italian Producers 6-10pm

FM – Chicago (Lincoln Park) - Green City Market - 7am – 1pm  For anyone who has the time, visiting the market on a Wednesday is a luxury!!!!!! Chef demonstration 10:30am-11:30am Christine Cikowski and Joshua Kulp Honey Buttered Fried Chicken 

October 16

Chicago(Lincoln Park)- Huckleberry Cookbook Dinner with Zoe Nathan 7-10pm Floriole Cafe and Bakery 7-10pm

FMEli’s & Wright College’s Farmers Market 7-1pm

FM – Chicago - Daley Plaza Farmers Market (Through Oct. 30) 7am-3pm Katherine Ann ConfectionsNichols FarmsRiver Valley Kitchens and more.

FM – Chicago (Uptown) - Uptown Farmers Market at Weiss Memorial Hospital - 7am – 1pm (Through Oct) 4646 N. Marine Drive

October 18

Chicago (Lakeview) - Graze Issue 6 Golden Delicious Release Party – 8pm – 11pm Lincoln & Southport

FM – Chicago (Lincoln Park) -  Green City Market 7am – 1pm Right across from the Hotel Lincoln  Chef demonstration 10:30am – 11:30am Chef Ina Pinkney

Chicago(Lincoln Park)Edible Gardens - Workshop at the Edible Gardens Time to Hit the Hay: Putting the Garden to Bed – 9:30am – 10:30am Bundle up and join us as we put the Edible Gardens to rest for the winter.  We’ll pull the remainder of our plants, lay hay, compost, and tidy our rows.  We will also save seed for next year’s garden, focusing on dried beans and flower seeds.  Please bring pruners if you have them. WORKSHOPS ARE BY RSVP ONLY.  To RSVP please email and specify which workshops you will attend.  Space is limited.

FMChicago (West Loop) Green City Market Fulton St. Market is located at 222 N. Halsted, on the southwest corner of Halsted and Fulton.  Parking is available along Halsted and in the lot on the southeast corner of Fulton and Halsted

FM – Chicago(Hyde Park/Woodlawn) - 61st Farmers Market ( Through 12/13, goes indoors as of Nov.) 9am – 2pm

Chicago - Growing Power Iron Street Farm Stand - 10am – 3pm 3333 South Iron St. Pick up your salad greens and they are selling at select Walgreens on the south and west sides!!

FM – Elgin - Market Elgin - 9am -1pm 800 North State St.

FM - Evanston - Downtown Evanston Market - (Through 11/8) 7:30am – 1pm Located Intersection of University Place and Oak Ave. (behind Hilton Garden Inn, east of East Railroad Ave.)

FM – La Fox – Heritage Prairie Saturday Farmer’s Market  9am – 1pm 2N308 Brundige Road

FM - Oak Park – Oak Park Farmers Market (through 11/1) - 7am – 1pm 460 Lake St.

October 19

Chicago(Edgewater) - Chicago Food Swap2pm Fearless Food Kitchen Broadway Armory Fieldhouse 2nd floor 5917 N. Broadway

Chicago(Lincoln Park) - Sunday Supper at Floriole Cafe and Bakery  Onion Soup, Coq Au Vin, Tarte Tartin, alas SOLD OUT

FM – Chicago (Pilsen) - The Pilsen Community Market  9-3pm 18th and Halsted

FM – Chicago (Logan Square) - Logan Square Outdoor  Market  (Through 10/26) 10am–3pm

October 20

Chicago(Avondale)The Northman Pop-Up Dinner Series - 7pm Influences of England & Spain Join The Northman as they journey through cider and dishes influenced by England and Spain.  Chef Cleetus Friedman will be joined by The Northman’s Cider Director Brian Rutzen and the rest of the crew for two days of menu testing and overall spreading the gospel of the first cider pub in Chicago. The focus for these dinners will be on ciders of English and Spanish origin.

October 21

FM – Chicago - MCA Farmers Market - 7am – 3pm Downtown at the MCA (Every Tuesday through Oct. 28)


October 22

Chicago(Edgewater)FACT’s 4th Annual Fund A Farmer Uncommon Ground Devon - At the party, you can enter their raffle, bid on unique online auction items, nosh on locally sourced bites, listen to live bluegrass by The Lantern Kickers, and meet Carole Morison, a Fund-a-Farmer grantee and farmer featured in the acclaimed documentary Food, Inc.  Tickets are $25 and include two drinks and light appetizers. They hope to see you there!

October 23

Chicago(Lakeview) - Green Chicago Restaurant Coalitions Green Pumpkin Gala – 6-9:30pm Greenhouse Loft 2545 W. Diversey

October 25

Champaign – Prairie Fruit Farms O”Best of the Harvest:” Chef Paul Virant, Perennial Virant and Vie Restaurant—Chicago and Western Springs, Illinois  Paul Virant has been at the forefront of the farm to table movement in the Midwest, and we’re honored to welcome him back to our farm for his fifth farm dinner season.

October 29

Chicago(Andersonville) - Cantina de la Granja Fundraiser for the Green City Market 6:30pm at The Wooden Spoon – 5047 N. Clark St.

November 1

Chicago(Lincoln Park)-  The Green City Market starts their indoor season at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

November 8

Champaign - Prairie Fruit Farms “Autumnal Bliss:” Chef Bruce Sherman from North Pond Restaurant, Chicago, IL Chef Bruce Sherman has been a long-time supporter of Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery.  He’s bringing former chef and current farmer, Tracey Vowell (former chef at Frontera Grill and current owner of Three Sisters Garden in Kankakee) to craft a delicious, autumnal meal.  His farmer-inspired food is pleasing to the eye AND the palate, and we’re excited to have him here.  

November 7-9

Milwaukee, WI - A Conversation with Will Allen and Michael Pollan

Milwaukee, WIGrowing Home’s National-International Urban & Small Farms Conference - Growing Power is proud to announce another inspiring conference with workshops that will focus on the 2014 theme “Building a Fair Food Economy to Grow Healthy People”. This conference will showcase the best practices and principles in sustainable agriculture and the innovations underway that will grow a healthier tomorrow. Conference workshops will be innovative and multidisciplinary facilitated by growers who are currently operating urban and small farms, as well as those who are working in areas that support this emerging area of agriculture and local economic development. These workshops are intended to enhance the skills and broaden the perspective of participants.

November 8

Chicago(Riverwest)RAMENFEST - 12pm BellyQ Owner and Executive Chef Bill Kim is gathering chefs from around the city  both ramen experts and novices  to prepare their culinary interpretations of the classic dish. Twenty chefs will try their hand at ramen for the event.   A portion of all proceeds from the event and silent auction will benefit Common Threads, a non-profit charity founded by Chicago Chef Art Smith that focuses on educating children about different cultures through food and art.

November 9

Chicago(Lincoln Park) - Middlewest Talks:Dorie Greenspan Cookies and Conversation with a Baking Legend 7-9pm Floriole Cafe and Bakery 1220 West Webster

November 13

Chicago – A Mostly Vegetarian Affair Cheat On Meat or Go Whole Beast – 7-10pm Chop Shop & First Ward Events 2033 W. North Ave.  the Green City Market Junior Board will present its ever-so-local and seasonal fall fundraiser.Throughout the evening, guests will enjoy a walk-around stationed tasting, featuring local chefs’ all-vegetable dishes made with Green City Market vendor produce. Complimenting the array of delicious vegetarian fare, Junior Board member chefs Jared Batson, Scott Manley and Eric Mansavage will also prepare three whole pigs “Three Little Pigs-style,” incorporating straw, wood and bricks both in their cooking methods and for creative inspiration. With all the great local food on offer, attendees will be able to Cheat on Meat or Go Whole Beast!

November 18-20

Chicago – The Chicago Food Film Festival - This event sells out, is always crazy, inventive and tons of fun!!

Need more info on urban ag, gardens, plants, farmers markets, local food, these organizations are good resources for you to bookmark and utilize:  Illinois Stewardship AllianceAdvocates for Urban AgricultureThe Plant ChicagoAngelics Organics Learning CenterWeFarmAmericaThe Peterson Garden Project and The Talking Farm.

November 22

ChampaignPrairie Fruits FarmThe Un-thanksgiving Meal: Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens The colder weather has us pining for our grandmothers’ cooking.  For this menu, we’re travelling back across the Atlantic Ocean to the “Old Country” for some eastern European and German food traditions.  Expect peiroges, pickles, borscht, spaetzle, goulash and more.  We most definitely WON’T be serving turkey!  

December 5

Chicago – Feed Your Mind 2nd Annual Gala Benefit For Pilot Light - Pilot Light welcomes our friends and supporters to gather and enjoy our Feed Your Mind event at the Chicago Cultural Center!  The special evening will feature chef tastings, silent and live auctions, and great music!  Join us at Feed Your Mind to support Pilot Light’s work in Chicago schools to empower children with a healthy relationship with food.

December 6

Champaign – Prairie Fruits FarmWinter Holiday & Solstice Dinner It’s cold outside, but enter the Prairie Fruits Farm Dining Room inside our barn and you’re enveloped in wood stove warmth.  We like to create a festive atmosphere to get everyone in the winter holiday spirit: lots of small plates loaded with comforting holiday foods, warming beverages and great conversations around the communal table.  This dinner brings an end to our farm dinner season and eases us into winter slumber.  We will also have some great farm products available for holiday gift giving.

Let’s Get Back with This Week’s Harvest of Eat Local Links

Posted: October 6, 2014 at 3:02 pm

I shall explain my absence in beeting in a post soon.  Until then, enjoy some links from the eat-local-verse.

wpa food poster


Eat local frogs.

Chicago area beers score well.

Root cellar renaissance!

Another eat local challenge.

We want to call our swiss cheese, swiss cheese.

Aren’t we all loca-busy?

Eat local Toronto (eh).

Lest you think California is the locavore’s paradise.