Holiday Weekend Edition of the Weekly Harvest of Eat Local Links

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Posted: May 22, 2015 at 8:12 am

We Love Lists

 

Only a few on this list are in the Midwest, but we’re suckers for best of lists when they come to best ice creams.

This list we like, especially as it’s not all the usual suspects.

A list of butchers, because we need this list to be bigger.

We’d add kohlrabi to this list but don’t agree when it comes to zucchini.

Damn you Boston.

Actually not clever, arch or meaningful in the least.

A bit of sad news in the local food community.

Since the sustainable food movement is so centered around think tanks, foundations and such, we might as well read what they have to say.


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Home Town Markets in Season – Sponsored by Vera Chicago

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Posted: May 20, 2015 at 9:26 am

Oak Park 2015, Now with Even More Local Family

 

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Because we had more winter markets than ever, thank you especially, Logan Square and Evanston, the rolling out of farmer’s markets does not seem as notable.  They’ve been here all along.  And markets as far apart as Woodstock, Green City and Frankfort have already ignited a new season of eat local passion.  Still, there are markets and there are our markets.  Your hometown market or neighborhood market.  The one where the farmer holds out the remaining tayberries just for you.  Where you’v been having  your knives sharpened for ages.  Where there’s donuts.

This is a special year at the Oak Park Farmer’s Market.  You can buy organic tomatoes, seasonal produce, and an array of farm-canned goods from the Condiment Queen at Tomato Mountain, and you can buy cheeses, butter, and ice cream from the Local Kid at Nordic Creamery.  Then, there’s donuts.  We all like our markets for different reasons.   For me, Oak Park is not just the donuts, not just old thyme music, or even the family connections, its the continuity, the arrival of the same gang,  the same sense of community, and the unfolding of the seasons in the same way that pervades the market each week.  It’s not just the farmers I look forward to seeing again.  It’s never the same sure, but it’s never different enough to make you forget where you are.   What’s your home town market and what makes it special to you.

See below for some of the many markets now in season.  Then, use our revised farmer’s market shopping tips to make the most of these outpost.  If your home town market has not begun,  there’s always these stores too.  Our sponsors, Irv and Shelly, also can get you much local food.  For additional markets and other things to do in the week’s ahead, see also Jeannie’s Local Calendar.

Wall of Lettuce

What’s In Season Now

 

 

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Don’t be surprised if the market you visit this week is dominated by starter plants and storage apples.  Not all farmers have hoop houses or the initiative to take an early start.  On the other hand, there should be much in the way of green including lettuces, spinach and all that asparagus you’ve waited for all year.  The items listed below are our best guesses as to what you’ll find, or what we think you should especially be looking for this time of year.

From the Ground

  • Green garlic
  • Asparagus
  • Spring onions/scallions
  • Shallots
  • Morel mushrooms
  • Radishes
  • Sorel
  • Chives
  • Dill
  • The various things under the umbrella “Asian greens” like bok choi, bekena, Chinese broccoli, etc.

Indoor Crops/Hoop-House

  • Turnips
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Beets

Storage Crops

  • Potatoes
  • Apples

Year round

  • Meats, poultry, lake fish
  • Eggs
  • Milk, cheese and other dairy
  • Mushrooms
  • Grains and breads
  • Preserved and jarred products

Where to Find Local Food

In addition to the following markets, there are several stores in the Chicago area that focus on selling local foods.

Chicago

Grocery store Treasure Island is putting together a couple of farmer’s markets, including this one with the rather interesting name, The Urban Islander’s Market at Treasure Island. They’ve brought some good stuff including black garlic from Wisconsin and greens grown in the Chicago suburbs. Wednesday from 3 PM to 8 PM - 2121 N. Clybourn Ave.

Not quite ready to bear the dogs, dirt and dozens at Green City? The market on Division Street is not too far in one direction and has some of the same vendors. Hijacking a busy street, it also feels very European (at least to us). Saturday from 7 AM to 1 PM Division St. & Dearborn Pkwy.

Oak Park

Have we mentioned donuts.  Family ties?  Well, what about one of the few area markets with locally tapped maple syrup?  Jim the Vinegar Guy?  Sadly, no Hazzard Free grains this year.  Saturday May 9 from 8 AM to 1 PM - 6210 Dempster

Park Ridge

A solid community market in a classic train-stop shopping district.   Saturday from 7 AM to 1 PM –  15 Prairie Avenue, between Main & Garden

Woodstock

We’ve told you about this market on Saturdays, but they also meet on Tuesdays in the square 8 AM to 1 PM - Historic Woodstock Square

Homewood

For some reason, a lot of the earliest Chicago area markets are in the south suburbs.  We’ve pointed out Park Forest and Frankfort before.  How about another one in that direction.  Saturday from 8 AM to 1 PM - 2020 Chestnut Road

What's In Season and Where to Find It - Sponsored by Vera 1023 W. Lake, Chicago

What’s In Season and Where to Find It – Sponsored by Vera 1023 W. Lake, Chicago


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It’s a Matter of Timing

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Posted: May 19, 2015 at 1:53 pm

Getting to Things

One can approach shopping, cooking and eating three ways. First, one can go shopping, to a store, online, where-ever, and buy what looks good that day or buy what you’re in the mood for or even buy based on some recipe read. The idea is this kind of shopper pays no attention to the underlying agriculture in defining their dinners. Their plates are dictated by their moods. Then, you have people focused primarily on price. I’ll get zucchini this week because it’s 39 cents a pound. What’s in season may matter to this shopper because it may impact prices, but when you are most motivated by price you are most motivated by price. Finally, there is the shopper, like me, who wants to eat based on what’s best at this point. We base our diets on what’s at the market or what’s come in the CSA box.

Or not. Let’s not be so foolish as to suggest we all fit neatly into a category. Who never considers price? And I’m as committed locavore as they come and I found myself buying a jar Serbian peppers the other day, because, well, because. The other thing, we have to time our actions. Somethings we need to get to right away. Others, who knows.

These beets came in our Tomato Mountain CSA box many months ago. I believe, although am not sure, they came in 2014. For all those months since, they idled nicely in our upstairs fridge as beets can. In the cold, with some humidity, they stayed perfectly edible, just waiting for me to have the gumption to deal with them. See, I love beets and all, but I’m not so loving of all the time and effort it takes to make them. So, I was in no hurry. Except now, with new crops coming fast, the CSA scheduled moved back to weekly, room was needed. I will say this, I feel awful for my vegan wife who does not get to enjoy the combination of roasted beets and labneh.

Asparagus on the other hand, you cannot diddle-dawdle. The longer it’s out of the ground, the lesser it will taste. Having her first shot at asparagus a week ago, my wife maybe over-bought. I roasted one batch, sauted another batch with ramps and turnip greens. This all got us well past a week. I had two bunches left. I knew I needed to have them soon, and I knew they needed a prep they would be more forgiving. Pan grilling them produced enough flavor and texture, that I wiped out any of the delicious subtlety already lost with time. If that was not enough, I splashed roasted peanut oil, spritzed soy and dabbed Asian chili oil, removing any lingering veggie-nuance left.

I will say this also about grilling asparagus. It’s harder than it looks. I mean it’s not that hard, but there’s something about the way asparagus spears are constructed. They are weirdly off balance, like camshafts. You grill one side, then think it is as easy as turning. They never just turn. They turn and then roll, often rolling back to the side you started. Would you think it hard to evenly grill asparagus. It is.

They say it was a very hungry person who ate the first oyster. Could you say the same about CSA customers and their Tokyo bekana? The bane of early season CSAs are all these weird greens known especially to farmers as “cold hearty.” Or more apt, what we can fill our boxes with until the fun stuff (like tomatoes) comes into season. Bekana looks a little like lettuce, but do not be fooled. It does not make for interesting salads. It is about the last thing I want to get around to with our stuff. Then, I had an idea. It looks like lettuce but it’s in the cabbage family. Do you know one of the ways I love cabbage, Jamaican style, that is with a subtle curry.

I sauteed a few onions in a large pan. Added madras curry powder and some garlic, let it bloom for a minute. Shredded the bekana. Put it in with the flavorings, plus about a q/4 cup of water to ease the cooking. I’ll be in a bit more of a hurry next time bekana shows up in our box.

We have to think about a few things when we go shopping or prepare dinner. Some times the choices are apparent. Other times it’s a question of timing.


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Curious About Veganism? The Good Karma Diet by Victoria Moran is for You!

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Posted: May 19, 2015 at 11:53 am

Good Karma Diet

You may have noticed that I have started to publish book recaps on bees, chickens and now on veganism. First off, if you noticed, it means you are actually reading this and for that I am very thankful!! I’ve started to receive emails from book publicists, who in exchange for sending me a copy of the book, ask for a brief write-up.  Well, I am a lover of real books and dog-earing a page in this age of screen reading.  Secondly, being appreciative of all the work that goes into seeing a book to completion, if it is a subject related in some way to the sustainable food/beverage world and if they send me a copy, I will write.

In this case, the book is The Good Karma Diet by Victoria Moran and published by Penguin. Now I am not a believer in diets and this book isn’t a diet in the vein of half a grapefruit and a piece of whole wheat toast for breakfast. This book is more a guidebook on veganism. For full disclosure, I am not a vegan and perhaps @Shes_Cooking would be a better summarizer since she is a full fledged vegan. I was not familiar with Victoria Moran but I am a believer in karma and think what goes around, comes around.  Moran has written 12 books on veganism including her most popular book and blog, Main Street Vegan.

Moran is very thorough in this book, from instructing you gently how to gradually wean yourself off of eggs and cheese to anecdotal success stories of people who became vegans to interspersed GKT (Good Karma Tips) about shopping, cooking and eating among non-vegans. She reinforced my thooughts about the power of greens and green drinks in the chapter High-Green, High-Raw, High-Energy Eating. Her basic premise is that you are what you eat and eat colorfully. One of the beautiful things about farmers markets is all the vibrant colors that can seem surreal in the summertime. Having just visited the National Restaurant Show here in Chicago, the Vitamix crew were demonstrating vegan recipes like avocado hollandaise which would fit perfectly into Moran’s chapter on Good Cheer and a Good Blender.

BeetsFult

Her tagline with the book is “Eat Gently, Feel Amazing and Age in Slow Motion”. She really goes from A to Z in terms of all aspects of veganism which again is why this is a great book for someone who is curious and wants to learn the how’s and why’s or for a practicing vegan who just wants to learn more about the philosophy behind veganism or helpful tips on living a vegan life. Moran’s point of view is a belief system as well as way of eating and is along the lines of some of the jivamukti yogii’s I know, who are vegan because one of their beliefs is compassion for all living things.

So Moran did not convince me to become a vegan but she did reinforce my thoughts on the power of vegetables and she really packed this book with all sorts of useful information like reviewing the different types of “diets” out there, the stories behind some of the animal farms, a chapter on vitamins and nutrition and more. She encourages everyone to be more thoughtful eaters and consider what goes on before the food gets to your plate and towards the end of the book, a slew of recipes and a great list of recommended reading.


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The Local Calendar 5/14/15 Daley Plaza Market Opens Today, 61st Street Saturday, Craft Beer Week, Seedling Sales at Kilbourn Park Greenhouse, PGP Learning Center Edgewater and at the Howard Street Farm in Skokie

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Posted: May 14, 2015 at 8:33 am

Asparagus GCM15Edible Chicago Vera CoffeeGood Food Revolution

(* Indicates new addition to calendar as of 5/19) Yes, the farmers market outdoor season has started. Still to open, 61st Street Farmers Market Saturday, May 16, Logan Square May 17, Federal Plaza Tuesday May 19. Today at Opening Day at Daley Plaza, Country Financial will announce the winner of their market bag contest. Make a point today to stop by the market today and find the bag! Edible Chicago Spring issue is out and about. If you see it, pick it up or you can subscribe.

It is that time of year, thankfully, where there is an abundance of markets relative to the wintertime and admittingly, an abundance in some neighborhoods and a shortfall in others. People like Will Allen, the founder of Growing Power is trying to address that issue, you can buy his book at the Growing Power booth at Green City Market.  If you are curious if there is a market in your area, check the City of Chicago’s website, for markets outside of Chicago, the Illinois Department of Agriculture keeps a market database as well as LocalHarvest

 Chicagogourmet tickets, 9/26-9/27 are available now! Green City Market BBQ, July 16 are on sale!

If you want a fun field trip for a weekend day in the summer, farm dinners are one way to go and the more popular ones are well on their way to being sold out. Heritage Prairie in Brundige, Mint Creek Farm in Stelle, Outstanding In The Field (nationwide farm tour that has stops in the Chicagoland area), Prairie Fruit Farm in Champaign and Slagel Family Farms in Fairbury.

The Green Grocer is making their CSA interactive. On May 25th, they are offering a farm visit to Genesis Growers to see and experience the farm. “We are very excited that the amazing and talented Vicki Westerhoff of Genesis Growers has invited a limited number of share members down to see the farm.

The Peterson Garden Project has all sort of classes for you to grow and then cook your own food! Need help with bees? Interested in local chickens?  Garfield Park Conservatory has a class for you. Have questions about urban farming, ask someone at the Advocates for Urban Agriculture or farming outside of Chicago, ask the Land Connection or the Illinois Stewardship Alliance.

It is that time of year for seedling sales, live in the northshore suburbs, checkout the Talking Farm’s Howard Street Farm in Skokie, Edgewater, the PGP Learning Center or Kilbourn Park, lots of activity going on at the organic green house.

Craft beer week in all its sudsy glory, Food Revolution Day is Friday May 15, Trash Fish Chicago and the list goes on, all on the Local Calendar.

The Week Ahead

May 14 -24

Craft Beer Week in all its awesomeness There are so many events go to the link, follow @Chibeerweek on twitter

May 14

FM - Chicago (Loop) - Opening Day Daley Plaza Farmers Market  (Through 10/29) 7am – 3pm COUNTRY Financial will announce the winner of the 8th Annual Reusable Bag Design Contest. The winning design from a Chicago Public Schools student was based on the theme “Live, Love, Be Green” and will be featured on thousands of reusable bags distributed throughout the season. This year’s finalists, each of whom will receive a scholarship award, are: Christopher Duran, a senior at Mather High School; David Paredes, a junior at Mather High School; and Zhi Wei Tan, a junior at Lincoln Park High School

May 15-16

Caledonia - 2015 Herb, Garden & Wellness  Fair - Wind Ridge Herb Farm 10 am – 4pm 466 Quail Trap Rd.

SkokieSeedling Sales at The Howard Street Farm 10am – 1pm 3669 Howard St (behind the Tot Learning Center) Saturday and Sunday’s (through May 31) It’s planting time again! This year choose local and organically grown seedlings for your garden from The Talking Farm. We will offer many different varieties of home-grown seedlings for sale at the Howard Street Farm, starting with cold weather hardy varieties then moving on to warm weather varieties as spring progresses.

May 15, 16, 17

Chicago (Edgewater) 4th Annual Plant Sale and Bake Sale Peterson Garden Project 12:00 pm –  4:00 pm PGP Learning Center  4642 North Francisco Avenue Their vegetable and herb seedlings are locally-grown in certified organic soil and are hand-selected for growing well in Chicago. Heirloom favorites will be available, as well as a few disease- resistant tomato and basil varieties! They’ll also be selling our book, Fearless Food Gardening in Chicagoland, seeds from Seed Savers Exchange, worm castings, Purple Cow Activated compostCascade Minerals soil boosterCorona tools, Grewbie kits, Neptune’s Harvest liquid fertilizer, PGP t-shirts, seed potatoes, Seed Keeper Company 5-  and 10- gallon Burlap Girdles (great for growing potatoes!), and of course- delicious,  locally-  baked goods.

May 15

FOOD REVOLUTION DAY!!!

May 16-17

Chicago (Kilbourn Park) Kilbourn Park Organic Greenhouse Plant Sale 10am – 2pm 3501 N. Kilbourn Ave. They will offer more than 150 varieties of organically-grown vegetable, herb, and flower seedlings. Customers can expect a wide variety of open-pollinated and heirloom tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. Other highlights include an assortment of herbs, greens and onions. This year will feature many new plants selected for city gardening in small spaces and containers. These seedlings are grown with the support of a team of dedicated volunteers who mak… .. See More

May 16

FM - Chicago (Hyde Park/Woodlawn) - Opening Day 61st Farmers Market Outdoor (Through Dec. 19) 9am -2pm 61st and Dorchester Accepting Senior Coupons and doubling LINK up to $25 The Chicago Southside’s premier farmers market, straddling the Hyde Park and Woodlawn neighborhoods. This year’s lineup includes Ellis Family Farms, Organic Bread of Heaven, Growing Power, Faith’s Farm, Mint Creek Farm, Lucky Duck Farm, Stamper Cheese, A10 Homemade Pastas, Sauce & Bread Kitchen, Growing Power, The Urban Canopy, SenTEAmental Moods Teas, Bot Gluten Free Vegan Bakery, and many more.

FM - Chicago (Lincoln Park) Green City Market (Through 10/31) The market is located at the south end of Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton Drive (approximately 1817 N. Clark) Doubling LINK up to $15 7am – 1pm Chef demo 10:30am – 11:30am Michael Kornick MK Chicago

FM - Evanston Downtown Evanston Farmers Market -(Through Nov. 7)  7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Intersection of University Place and Oak Ave. (just east of East Railroad Ave.) Free parking is available in the adjacent 1800 Maple Avenue Self Park Fifty-seven vendors : fruits, vegetables, meat, flowers, cheese, milk, eggs and bakery items. Reusable and biodegradable bags are sold on site. LINK cards are accepted, and the Friends of Evanston Farmers Markets offers matching funds.

May 17

FM - Chicago (Logan Square) - Opening Day Logan Square Outside Market (Through Oct. 25) 10am – 3pm 3107 West Logan Blvd.

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Make a resolution May,  volunteer on an urban farm. Are you getting an itch to get your hands dirty and work with the soil? There are many alternatives in Chicagoland to volunteer on an urban farm, a few of the options:  Altgeld Sawyer Corner Farm (Logan Square)Chicago Lights Urban FarmCity Farm , Growing HomeGrowing Power ChicagoPeterson Garden Project and the Talking Farm in Skokie. 


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May 18

Chicago (The Loop) - Trash Fish Chicago6:30pm – 9:30pm   The Kitchen Chicago 316 North Clark Avenue Trash Fish Chicago is a delicious opportunity to taste underutilized seafood species, learn about the future of sustainable seafood, and connect with leading change makers in the culinary world. Chef Johnny Anderes, The Kitchen, Chicago, Chef Paul Fehribach, Big Jones, Chicago, Chef Brian Huston, Boltwood, Evanston, Chef Nicole Pederson, Found, Evanston, Chef Nico Romo, Fish, Charleston, Chef Clair Smyth, The Kitchen, Chicago, Chef Stephen Stryjewski, Cochon/Butcher/Peche, New Orleans, Chef Paul VirantVie/Perennial Virant/Vistro, Chicago,  Signature cocktails by Bill Anderson, Vie, Chicago Proceeds benefit Chefs Collaborative scholarship and education programs.

May 19

FM – Chicago (Loop)Federal Plaza Market Opens  (Through 10/27) 7am – 3pm Sponsored by the City of Chicago and COUNTRY Financial This year, all of the City of Chicago managed markets will accept LINK and will distribute double value coupons with every LINK purchase. Don’t forget to pick up your reusable bag from COUNTRY Financial at Daley Plaza or a market near you.

Chicago (West Loop) – Publican Quality Meat Burger Night 6pm-9pm 825 West Fulton

May 20

Champaign - Prairie Fruit Farms Farm Open House 4-6pm

FM Chicago (Andersonville) Opening Day Andersonville’s Farmers Market - Located on Berwyn between Clark and Ashland Every Wed through 9/2 3-8pm, 9/9-10/14 3-7pm @Shes_Cooking will be there at the Tomato Mountain Stand

FM Chicago (Lincoln Park) – Green City Market (Through 10/28) 7am – 1pm 10:30am – 11:30am Chef demo Devon Quinn Paramount Events Catering The market is located at the south end of Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton Drive (approximately 1817 N. Clark) Doubling LINK up to $15

Chicago (Lincoln Square)  - Free Sausage and Beer sponsored by Big Fork Brands at the Space 4pm – 6pm 2707 W. Lawrence

May 21

Chicago (West Loop) Botanical Beer Dinner at BellyQ with Forbidden Root Botanic Brewing - Portion of sales goes to Inspiration Kitchen.

FM - Chicago (Loop) - Daley Plaza Farmers Market  (Through 10/29) 7am – 3pm Sponsored by the City of Chicago and COUNTRY Financial This year, all of the City of Chicago managed markets will accept LINK and will distribute double value coupons with every LINK purchase. Don’t forget to pick up your reusable bag from COUNTRY Financial at Daley Plaza or a market near you.

May 22

Chicago (Lakeview) - Bunny The Micro Bakery and Wunder POP Launch - As reported by Michael Gebbert Chicago Reader

Chicago (Loop)Beyond Gourmet Paella Cook-off – Mercat A La Planxa 6-8:30pm Abe Colon, Fat Rice Ashlee Aubin, Salero and Wood John Manion, La Sirena Clandestina and El Che bar Perry Hendrix, avec Rob Hafer, Slurping Turtle Tim Graham, Travelle all compete for MVP (Most Valuable Paella)

May 23-24

Skokie - Seedling Sales at The Howard Street Farm 10am – 1pm 3669 Howard St (behind the Tot Learning Center) Saturday and Sunday’s (through May 31) It’s planting time again! This year choose local and organically grown seedlings for your garden from The Talking Farm. We will offer many different varieties of home-grown seedlings for sale at the Howard Street Farm, starting with cold weather hardy varieties then moving on to warm weather varieties as spring progresses.

May 23

FM - Chicago (Hyde Park/Woodlawn) - 61st Farmers Market Outdoor (Through Dec. 19) 9am -2pm 61st and Dorchester Accepting Senior Coupons and doubling LINK up to $25 The Chicago Southside’s premier farmers market, straddling the Hyde Park and Woodlawn neighborhoods.

FM - Chicago (Lincoln Park)Green City Market (Through 10/31) The market is located at the south end of Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton Drive (approximately 1817 N. Clark)Doubling LINK up to $15 7am – 1pm Chef demo 10:30am – 11:30am Sean Sanders Browntrout

FM - Evanston Downtown Evanston Farmers Market -(Through Nov. 7)  7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Intersection of University Place and Oak Ave. (just east of East Railroad Ave.) Free parking is available in the adjacent 1800 Maple Avenue

FD FairburySlagel Family Farm Dinner with Nico Osteria & Boltwood Chef Erling Wu-Bower and Chef Brian Huston

FM - Oak Park - Opening Day Oak Park Farmers Market (Through 10/31) 7am – 1pm - Pilgrim Church Parking Lot 460 Lake St For a limited time, the Market offers a Link Double Coupon matching program, which gives Link card users $1 in coupons for each $1 in Market purchases, up to $20. Many vendors also accept the WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program $3 coupons

May 24

Chicago (Lincoln Park) – Sunday Supper at Floriole with Abra Berens of Local Foods 6-8pm 

FM - Chicago (Logan Square) - Logan Square Farmers Market (Through Oct. 25) 10am – 3pm 3107 West Logan Blvd.

May 25

Happy Memorial Day!

May 26

FM - Chicago (Loop) - Federal Plaza Market  (Through 10/27) 7am – 3pm Sponsored by the City of Chicago and COUNTRY Financial This year, all of the City of Chicago managed markets will accept LINK and will distribute double value coupons with every LINK purchase.

Chicago (West Loop) - Publican Quality Meat Burger Night 6pm-9pm 825 West Fulton

*new  Chicago (Old Town) – Booking Signing The Broad Fork by Hugh Acheson at the Spice House - 6-7:30pm 1512 N. Wells 

May 27

Champaign - Prairie Fruit Farms Farm Open House 4-6pm

FM Chicago (Andersonville) Andersonville’s Farmers Market - Located on Berwyn between Clark and Ashland Every Wed through 9/2 3-8pm, 9/9-10/14 3-7pm @Shes_Cooking will be there at the Tomato Mountain Stand

FM Chicago (Lincoln Park) - Green City Market (Through 10/28) 7am – 1pm 10:30am – 11:30am Chef demo Pat Sheerin The TrenchermenThe market is located at the south end of Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton Drive (approximately 1817 N. Clark)

Chicago (West Loop)Beyond Gourmet – Gourmet In The GardenPiccolo Sogno 1-4pm The leisurely afternoon event takes place on Piccolo Sogno’s lush garden patio and features several food stations featuring Executive Chef Tony Priolo’s award-winning Italian, complemented by 30 different wines by Partner and Wine Director Ciro Longobardo.

May 28

FM - Chicago (Loop) - Daley Plaza Farmers Market  (Through 10/29) 7am – 3pm Sponsored by the City of Chicago and COUNTRY Financial This year, all of the City of Chicago managed markets will accept LINK and will distribute double value coupons with every LINK purchase. Don’t forget to pick up your reusable bag from COUNTRY Financial at Daley Plaza or a market near you.

Chicago (Roscoe Village) - LUSH Roscoe Village Wine Stroll

May 30-31

Skokie - Seedling Sales at The Howard Street Farm 10am – 1pm 3669 Howard St (behind the Tot Learning Center) Saturday and Sunday’s (through May 31) It’s planting time again! This year choose local and organically grown seedlings for your garden from The Talking Farm. We will offer many different varieties of home-grown seedlings for sale at the Howard Street Farm, starting with cold weather hardy varieties then moving on to warm weather varieties as spring progresses.

May 30

FD ChampaignRites of Spring Farm Dinner Prairie Fruits Farm 

FM - Chicago (Hyde Park/Woodlawn) - 61st Farmers Market Outdoor (Through Dec. 19) 9am -2pm 61st and Dorchester Accepting Senior Coupons and doubling LINK up to $25 The Chicago Southside’s premier farmers market, straddling the Hyde Park and Woodlawn neighborhoods.

FM - Chicago (Lincoln Park) - Green City Market (Through 10/31) The market is located at the south end of Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton Drive (approximately 1817 N. Clark) 7am – 1pm Chef demo 10:30am – 11:30am Joe Heppe Oak & Char

Chicago (West Loop) - Counter Culture Coffee Open House Celebrating Sustainability 10am-2pm Chicago Training Center 177 North Ada, unit 106Goose Island Brewery‘s Assistant Brewery Manager Ian Hughes will serve as the day’s presenter. The free and open-to-the-public event will be an awareness-raising day about sustainability and green living, showcasing the work of individuals and organizations doing inspiring work in the communities around Counter Culture’s training centers.

FM - Evanston Downtown Evanston Farmers Market -(Through Nov. 7)  7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Intersection of University Place and Oak Ave. (just east of East Railroad Ave.) Free parking is available in the adjacent 1800 Maple Avenue

FM - Oak Park - Oak Park Farmers Market (Through 10/31) 7am – 1pm - Pilgrim Church Parking Lot 460 Lake St For a limited time, the Market offers a Link Double Coupon matching program, which gives Link card users $1 in coupons for each $1 in Market purchases, up to $20. Many vendors also accept the WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program $3 coupons

May 31

Chicago (Lincoln Park) - Book Event Floriole Cafe and Bakery Maria Speck – Simply Ancient Grains  6-8pm Enjoy a glass of cava, taste small bites inspired by recipes in Maria’s latest book, listen to Maria tell us more about her book and answer questions posed by blogger Tim Mazurek of Lottie & Doof, and have your book signed by the author. Bring your copy of the book or purchase one at the cafe. Get tickets here.

FM - Chicago (Logan Square) - Logan Square Farmers Market (Through Oct. 25) 10am – 3pm 3107 West Logan Blvd.

June 1

Chicago (North Center) - Enchilada Night at Half Acre Tap Room with Sunday Dinner 4255 N. Lincoln

Chicago (West Loop) - Michigan Wines Showcase at City Winery 6pm

June 2

FM - Chicago (Loop) - Federal Plaza Market  (Through 10/27) 7am – 3pm Sponsored by the City of Chicago and COUNTRY Financial This year, all of the City of Chicago managed markets will accept LINK and will distribute double value coupons with every LINK purchase. Don’t forget to pick up your reusable bag from COUNTRY Financial at Daley Plaza or a market near you.

FM – Chicago (Streeterville) MCA Chicago Farmers Market (Through 10/27) 7am -3pm Managed by S.O.A.R.(Streeterville Organization of Active Residents)

Chicago (West Loop) - Publican Quality Meat Burger Night 6pm-9pm 825 West Fulton

June 3

Champaign - Prairie Fruit Farms Farm Open House 4-6pm

FM Chicago (Andersonville) Andersonville’s Farmers Market - Located on Berwyn between Clark and Ashland Every Wed through 9/2 3-8pm, 9/9-10/14 3-7pm @Shes_Cooking will be there at the Tomato Mountain Stand

FM Chicago (Lincoln Park) - Green City Market (Through 10/28) 7am – 1pm 10:30am – 11:30am Chef demo David Dworshak Takito KitchenThe market is located at the south end of Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton Drive (approximately 1817 N. Clark)

June 4

Chicago - Chef’s Playground 2015 to Benefit the Academy for Global Citizenship

FM - Chicago (Loop) - Daley Plaza Farmers Market  (Through 10/29) 7am – 3pm Sponsored by the City of Chicago and COUNTRY Financial This year, all of the City of Chicago managed markets will accept LINK and will distribute double value coupons with every LINK purchase. Don’t forget to pick up your reusable bag from COUNTRY Financial at Daley Plaza or a market near you.

June 6

FM - Chicago (Hyde Park/Woodlawn) - 61st Farmers Market Outdoor (Through Dec. 19) 9am -2pm 61st and Dorchester Accepting Senior Coupons and doubling LINK up to $25 The Chicago Southside’s premier farmers market, straddling the Hyde Park and Woodlawn neighborhoods.

FM - Chicago (Lincoln Park) - Green City Market (Through 10/31) The market is located at the south end of Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton Drive (approximately 1817 N. Clark) 7am – 1pm Chef demo 10:30am – 11:30am Rick Bayless Frontera Grill

FM – Chicago (West Loop)  Green City Market -Fulton  (Through 10/31) 9am – 2pm Located in a lot at the SE corner of N. Halsted and W Fulton Streets, 799 W. Fulton Market.

FM - Evanston Downtown Evanston Farmers Market -(Through Nov. 7)  7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Intersection of University Place and Oak Ave. (just east of East Railroad Ave.) Free parking is available in the adjacent 1800 Maple Avenue

FM - Oak Park - Oak Park Farmers Market (Through 10/31) 7am – 1pm - Pilgrim Church Parking Lot 460 Lake St For a limited time, the Market offers a Link Double Coupon matching program, which gives Link card users $1 in coupons for each $1 in Market purchases, up to $20. Many vendors also accept the WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program $3 coupons

June 7

FM - Chicago (Logan Square) - Logan Square Farmers Market (Through Oct. 25) 10am – 3pm 3107 West Logan Blvd.

FM – Chicago (Rogers Park) Opening Day Glenwood Outdoor Market (Through 10/25) 9am – 2pm On Glenwood Ave. between Morse and Lunt

June 9

FM - Chicago (Loop) - Federal Plaza Market  (Through 10/27) 7am – 3pm Sponsored by the City of Chicago and COUNTRY Financial This year, all of the City of Chicago managed markets will accept LINK and will distribute double value coupons with every LINK purchase. Don’t forget to pick up your reusable bag from COUNTRY Financial at Daley Plaza or a market near you.

FM - Chicago (Streeterville) MCA Chicago Farmers Market (Through 10/27) 7am -3pm Managed by S.O.A.R.(Streeterville Organization of Active Residents)

Chicago (West Loop) - Publican Quality Meat Burger Night 6pm-9pm 825 West Fulton

June 10

FM Chicago (Andersonville) Andersonville’s Farmers Market - Located on Berwyn between Clark and Ashland Every Wed through 9/2 3-8pm, 9/9-10/14 3-7pm @Shes_Cooking will be there at the Tomato Mountain Stand

FM Chicago (Lincoln Park) - Green City Market (Through 10/28) 7am – 1pm 10:30am – 11:30am Chef demo Bruce Sherman North Pond The market is located at the south end of Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton Drive (approximately 1817 N. Clark)

June 13

Crystal Lake – Dukes Eco-Friendly Food and Beer Fest

June 18

Chicago (Bucktown)Rick Bayless’ Garden Tour By His Master Gardener Bill Hogan and Mexican Dinner at Goddess and Grocer

June 27

New!!  FM – Chicago (Back of the Yards) – Back of the Yards Community Market at The Plant (Through 9/9) 11am – 3:30pm

July 16

Chicago (Lincoln Park)Green City Market BBQ


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Some of This Week’s Harvest of Eat Local Links Have Insider Appeal

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Posted: May 13, 2015 at 11:28 am

 

Pretty decent advice for handling your CSA.

Urban ag and eating local go hand in hand.  Meet some of the players.

Why it matters (urban ag).

How not to talk about food (or eating).

Hey Tom.

One for my wife, and others like her, to use.

All my family adore this place.

And one for my friend Randall.

Interesting news on the local cheese front.

 

 


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What Do You Do With Radishes

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Posted: May 8, 2015 at 8:49 am

It’s All a Matter of Emphasis

 

radishes - tm csa

What: Radishes have been showing up in my Tomato Mountain CSA box* for a few weeks. Local radishes are also available at operating farmer’s markets. It’s an easy crop to find. For one thing, it manages just fine in the cold, the Farmer’s Almanac says plant them well before the last frost date. Then, those little orbs are ready in like 3 weeks. No patience required. Finally, to keep on chugging out those CSA boxes, you can plant and re-plant and re-harvest radishes.  They’re what’s here now and what will be here for a while until it gets too hot.

Do: So, is it a blessing or a curse, piles of radishes. Do you treat them like food? Be real. Do you practice your garniture skills, make one decent rose, compost the rest, and call it plating. Like many (most) tastes of Spring, the radish has bite. The earth wants to wake up our palate after a winter of roots and rich meats. Do you fear the little package of assertiveness? At best is it one slice on a pile of greens you call salad?

Photo courtesy of Mark Mendez/Vera Chicago

Photo courtesy of Mark Mendez/Vera Chicago

You: Are not the type to shirk from an early seasonal bounty. You want to play with your food. Take full advantage of something that is not spinach or asparagus this time of year.  Is there any better way to have your radishes than the way our friend and sponsor, Vera did, with a mound of Nordic Creamery butter and some sea salt.  Are you a minimalist.  Do the simple things in life satisfy.  Is there any more mindful way of eating than a plate of radishes facing you.  You are willing to tackle this crop for sure.

radish

Do: What happens when the emphasis is at the end? What do you do with all your radishes. You’ve thrown a few into salads. Tried méthode de français. They’re still a-comin, what to do. Do treat your radishes like any other root vegetable. As Local Beet Founder, Michael Morowitz said of any root, “grate it or roast it.” This Local Family has had success with both. I especially like mating my radish slaws with other strong flavors like dry cured olives or capers.  In North African cuisine, radishes are often paired with citrus.  Roasting does not dull their bite, but it does add a touch of sweetness to make for an interesting marriage.  Do try.

Where do you like to put your emphasis on this Spring favorite?

*One of the Local Family works for Tomato Mountain


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More Markets in Season Now – Sponsored by Vera Chicago

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Posted: May 7, 2015 at 9:30 am

What’s In Season Now, More

 

Vera-LOGO-Fpattern (1) (1)

More markets, more products at the more markets.  We’ve already reached our capacities in listing markets and listing what you will find at said markets.  The time to eat local is nigh.  If you’re going to Green City Market, you probably know about it.  See what else is out there this week.  Use our revised farmer’s market shopping tips to get the best of these more markets.  And note, the more there’s in the markets, the more there’s in these stores too.  Get local food where you can.

Fernsgreenacres
Photo Jeannie Boutelle

What’s In Season Now

 

 

lots o rhubarb

Between the nice weather and the fact that market are actually around and open, the Spring crop is thick.  Gone are the days when early markets consisted of old apples, cultivated mushrooms, and all that indeterminate, clearly not local, product supposedly from “Southern Illinois–yes we won’t name the vendor still often seen at certain markets Francais notorious for this fodder. Just remember our list does not include peppers or sweet corn. On the other hand, we’ve heard of area farmers pulling tomatoes from their hoop houses, so that we can accept!  The list below is not all of what you can find, but some of what you should focus on based on short seasons, or long desire.

From the Ground

  • Green garlic
  • Edible ferns
  • Garlic mustard
  • Ramps
  • Asparagus
  • Spring onions/scallions
  • Nettles
  • Morel mushrooms
  • Radishes
  • Sorel
  • Chives
  • Dill

Indoor Crops/Hoop-House

  • Turnips
  • Tomatoes

Storage Crops

  • Potatoes
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Celery root
  • Onions

Year round

  • Meats, poultry, lake fish
  • Eggs
  • Milk, cheese and other dairy
  • Mushrooms
  • Grains and breads
  • Preserved and jarred products

Where to Find Local Food

In addition to the following markets, there are several stores in the Chicago area that focus on selling local foods.

Chicago

Great locally raised meats from our friends at C&D just one of the reasons to hit the far southside market in Beverly on Sunday May 10 from 7 AM to 1 PM - 95th Street and Longwood Drive

Already going, support the good work done by Growing Home at their Wood Street Farm on Wednesday May 13 from 11 AM to 4 PM - 5814 S. Wood Street

Morton Grove

Some of you may know, but the Beet has some deep ties to this market.  Do show your support on this special Spring edition, Saturday May 9 from 8 AM to 1 PM – 6210 Dempster

Urbana

Maybe you’re picking up your kid this weekend?  The closest thing in Illinois to the Dane County Farmer’s Market, big square, lots of vendors.  Better, take advantage of the length of our state as you will find products here that will never make it as far north as Chicago.  Saturday May 9 from 7 AM to Noon –  Corner of Illinois & Vine Streets in Downtown Urbana

Glencoe/Chicago Botanic Gardens

Just a couple things we love about this market are Kim Snyder and her delicious Faith’s Farm pork, and the Chicago grown produce from Windy City Harvest, so go shop on Sunday May 10 from 9 AM to 3 Pm – 1000 Lake Cook Road

East Dundee

We’ve been following these guy’s active Facebook page for a while.  First market of the year on Saturday May 9 from 8 AM to 2 PM - 319 N. River St

Evanston

Not Madison big, and not Urbana big, but big-big for a Chicago area market.  Big enough to support a range of organic fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses, and other eat local products, almost sixty vendors this year!. Always one of our favorites.  Saturday May 9 from 730 AM to 1 PM - Intersection of University Place and Oak Ave (behind Hilton Garden Inn, east of East Railroad Ave)

Park Forest

This market accepts EBT/Link, WIC, and Senior Nutrition Coupons.  Saturday May 2 from 7 AM to 1 PM - 271 Lakewood Blvd

Geneva

Who wants to be inside?  Still, go support these guys for staying open ALL the time.  Community Winter Market on  Saturday, May 9 from 9 AM to 1 PM - 327 Hamilton

Kankakee

We’ve never been to this market, but the list of vendors is long on their Facebook page.  Downtown Kankakee also features a classic small town courthouse.  Worth checking out on Saturday May 2 from 8 AM to Noon – Corner of Schuyler Ave. and Merchant

Not satisfied with what’s around here.  The Madison Farmer’s Market is running hard.   We follow the Decatur Farmer’s Market on twitter and have always wanted to go.  Seems like a good one to visit.

  If you know of any other farmer’s markets in the Chicago area, please let us know

. What's In Season and Where to Find It - Sponsored by Vera 1023 W. Lake, Chicago

What’s In Season and Where to Find It – Sponsored by Vera 1023 W. Lake, Chicago


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This Week’s Crop of Eat Local Links is Due for Harvest

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Posted: May 6, 2015 at 8:34 am

Eat what is local.

Look at the great things our sponsor, Elizabeth, does.

Don’t you want to try a real Colby cheese?

Kinda of an inane idea.  What city would be the number one city for food and drink in Illinois?  Still, the lists leads to many good finds, regional treats and various places we think you need to visit.

What goes well with farmer’s markets?  Kids.

The good food movement is so damn confusing.

How many of you were amazed that Panera used 150 artificial ingredients, that knew that 150 artificial ingredients existed–of course, it is noted, that Panera has not dropped ALL artificial ingredients, so 150 is less than you think.

Look to the Motor City for inspiration.

 


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Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, All For You in One Turkish Breakfast for Lunch

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Posted: April 30, 2015 at 6:00 pm

Eating Local

Long time readers of this site know I love Turkish Breakfast. In it’s simplest form, Turkish breakfast is an excuse to eat tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and cheese for breakfast, or more likely, since I like to eat olives, cheese, cucumbers and tomatoes a lot, I needed a name, an excuse. As one cannot get cucumbers and tomatoes year-round, the concept of Turkish breakfast has come to encompass any like mix. To have Turkish breakfast there must be a mix of seasonal vegetables, as salads, spreads and other preparations; preserved and pickled products, and cheese, without vegetables it is simply Ploughman’s lunch. It should have bread, maybe more types of bread, with butter and jelly and honey and a rich cheese spread called kajmak, but this Turkish breakfast I had above, for a late lunch substituted roasted potatoes for the carbs.

It struck me after eating, how perfectly it encapsulates how I approach the concept of “eating local.”   My late afternoon breakfast included a couple of items roasted, an item from a jar and something that only needed a wash and trim. The  carrots and radishes came from our Tomato Mountain CSA (more on radishes soon).  The accent to the carrots was a locally made, locally sourced, harisa.  The potatoes were a mix of russets, yukon golds and fingerlings picked up across the winter at various markets.  You might not be able to tell, but within the potatoes were garlic from last year’s CSA, onions, probably also from last year’s CSA, and thyme from last year’s CSA that we dried for preservation.  Along side that plate, adding spark to the bite, diversity to the palate, as well as a bit of richness, barrel feta from Greece and Middle Eastern style pickled green peppers.   Like all Turkish breakfasts it played out as an array of textures and flavors merging into one long mouthful.

The lessons I want to impart from this plate are three-fold.  First, eating local is never about absolutes, rules, dictates or requirements.  If you did not pickle your own peppers last year, find a decent copy.  And as many great local cheeses exist around here, we don’t always have to be so chauvinistic.  Second, it’s an on-going process.  You have to think not just what you will eat this day but how you will eat every day.  Make sure you save up some onions; dry your herbs.  Make preparations ahead of time for all your meals.  Finally, you need to work your sources.  It can’t hurt to subscribe to a CSA,  but you also need markets and other outlets.  Get your food.  Put this all together and you have lunch.  Even if we call it breakfast.


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We Give You More What’s In Season and More Where to Find It – Sponsored by Vera Chicago

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Posted: April 30, 2015 at 3:57 pm

What’s In Season Now, Market Season

 

Vera-LOGO-Fpattern (1) (1)

OK, things are a-goin’ now with Chicago area farmer’s markets.   Oddly enough, most of the area markets started are down south, out west or in McHenry County.   Soon, we won’t be able to list each market weekly, they’ll be too many, but we hope to have a revised 2015 Market List up soon.
ramps illiana

Is this the week you start eating more local?  See below for what you should (could?) find about now, and shop these stores or the markets listed.  Also, study up on our revised farmer’s market shopping tips before heading out.

What’s In Season Now

Tatsoi Photo: Kitazawa Seed Co.

Tatsoi
Photo: Kitazawa Seed Co.

 The earliest markets are not the times to be your pickiest.  We’ve listed below what you may find, but don’t be surprised if you come home this week with a bunch of Asian greens you never knew before.

From the Ground

  • Green garlic
  • Watercress
  • Parsnips (over wintered)
  • Carrots (over wintered)
  • Various greens (over wintered)
  • Ramps
  • Asparagus
  • Spring onions/scallions
  • Nettles
  • Edible ferns
  • Radishes

Indoor Crops/Hoop-House

  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Sprouts
  • Sorrel
  • Mustard and similar greens
  • Kale
  • Herbs
  • Radishes

Storage Crops

  • Potatoes
  • Apples
  • Squash
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Celery root
  • Turnips
  • Radishes
  • Burdock root
  • Onions

Year round

  • Meats, poultry, lake fish
  • Eggs
  • Milk, cheese and other dairy
  • Mushrooms
  • Grains and breads
  • Preserved and jarred products

Where to Find Local Food

In addition to the following markets, there are several stores in the Chicago area that focus on selling local foods.

Chicago

 Green City Market matches LINK card purchases up to $15?  Just another reason we love this market, and for the first time in 2015, it’s outdoors.  Saturday May 2 from 7 AM to 1 PM –  Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton Drive (approximately 1817 N. Clark) 

Maybe with our crazy weather, having an indoor market in May is not such a bad idea.  The Glenwood Sunday Market is still inside on Sunday May 3 from 9 AM to 2 PM – 6962 N. Glenwood

Frankfort

We’ve had many good trips to this edge of suburban market over the years.  Lots of vendors including our good friend Jimmy Harden.  Sunday May 3 from 10 AM to 2 PM – Downtown Frankfort (Kansas and Oak Streets)

Woodstock

Proudly calling themselves the number one market in Illinois, this nearly year-round enterprise also goes outdoors for the first time in 2015.  LINK Cards and WIC/Senior Benefit Vouchers are accepted at the market.  Saturday May 2 from 8 AM – 1 PM – Historic Woodstock Square

Wilmette French Market

Woops, did not see that this market started last week.  Saturday May 2 8 AM to 1 PM – Village Center

Park Forest

This market accepts EBT/Link, WIC, and Senior Nutrition Coupons.  Saturday May 2 from 7 AM to 1 PM - 271 Lakewood Blvd

Geneva

Also inside for a few more weeks, the Community Winter Market on  Saturday, April 25 from 9 AM to 1 PM - 327 Hamilton

Grayslake

About the earliest market to go outdoor each year in the Chicago area, the Grayslake Farmer’s Market is Saturday May 2 from 10 AM to 2 PM – Downtown Grayslake on Center Street

 Naperville

We love all farmer’s markets, even the “French” ones.  Can’t say we did not warn you, but we also think you may find a thing or two of interest at the Naperville French Market.  Saturday May 2 from 8AM to 2PM – Main Street & Liberty Drive

Kankakee

We’ve never been to this market, but the list of vendors is long on their Facebook page.  Downtown Kankakee also features a classic small town courthouse.  Worth checking out on Saturday May 2 from 8 AM to Noon – Corner of Schuyler Ave. and Merchant

Not satisfied with what’s around here.  The Madison Farmer’s Market is running hard.   We follow the Decatur Farmer’s Market on twitter and have always wanted to go.  Seems like a good one to visit.

  If you know of any other farmer’s markets in the Chicago area, please let us know

. What's In Season and Where to Find It - Sponsored by Vera 1023 W. Lake, Chicago

What’s In Season and Where to Find It – Sponsored by Vera 1023 W. Lake, Chicago


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Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts These Books Are For You

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Posted: April 30, 2015 at 1:31 pm

ChickenbookHTBCoopsPhoto Garfield Conservatory Website

For full disclosure, I live in a high-rise and am not an urban chicken keeper. However, when a request to write a post on these books came across my desk, being an appreciator of locally laid eggs and a lover of books and thinking that among the Beet community are chicken keepers, I said send me a copy.

You can find a lot of information and an active community on the Chicago Chicken Enthusiast facebook page. The Garfield Park Conservatory (it is their picture above) holds classes on chicken keeping and they have one scheduled for this Saturday May 2 on Chicken Health. Angelic Organics Learning Center and the Advocates For Urban Agriculture are other resources for chicken enthusiasts.

Part of the nature of communities is to share information on a one on one basis and I presume this is how chicken keeping has grown in Chicago. However, these two books offer a ton of information if you were not aware of them.  The Chicken Keeper’s Problem Solver – 100 Common Problems Explored and Explained by Chris Graham and published by Quarry Books is an FAQ on raising chickens. It is broken down into sections of questions: food and water, housing, chicken runs, rodents and other pests, parasites, health issues, egg production, incubation, rearing, behavioral problems. This book was just published in February 2015, has a wealth of tidbits and helpful hints and is layed out in a very practical way, problem and solution.

How To Build Chicken Coops- Everything You Need to Know by Samantha Johnson and Daniel Johnson and published by Voyageur Press is how to build a chicken coop and more, chicken trivia such as ” How many chickens are there in the world? There are more chickens than people-some sources say over 20 billion chickens worldwide” and “chicken lingo, what is a cockerel? A young male chicken.” It is so easy to click away and find information online but both these books are resource type books, visually interesting and can be shared and used over and over again.

There was an egg seller from Minnesota at the Good Food Festival called Locally Laid Eggs. Hopefully, awareness of these books, may help some of you Chicago Chicken enthusiasts, so we can have more locally laid eggs here in the city.


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Revised and Updated! – Local Beet Guide to Getting the Most Out of Your Farmer’s Market Trip

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Posted: April 30, 2015 at 9:23 am

Farmer’s Market Shopping Guide

We created this guide a few years ago to help you maximize your farmer’s market shopping experience. We think it holds up pretty well, but we did go through and tidy things up, add a few new things, and otherwise parlay our experiences into your guidance.

Is there anything easier than visiting a farmer’s markets.  Everything looks good.  The sellers are passionate.  So passionate they may talk too much.  Samples abound.  Just bring money, right?

Maybe, but we still think we have several ways to make the most out of your market experience.

  • There are many ways to pay – The general rule for farmer’s markets used to be, bring cash, but you can get by without the green.  Many vendors now take credit cards.  Nearly all farmers will take a check, especially if you make a substantial purchase.  Ask.  In addition many vendors also take charge cards.  Some markets process the card payments, so even when a vendor can’t swipe with Square, your e-wallet can work.  Forgetting to go to the ATM is no longer a good excuse.
  • Survey the scene – Some of us buy from every farmer they see.  Most of us want a bit less.  Don’t buy at the first place you see.  Look around.  See who has what.  Why are prices different.  What varieties can you find.  Take a lap before buying.  Farmers love to chat.  Give yourself as much time as possible to work your market.
  • Know what’s in season – Menu plan for what you know will be around that week.  Don’t look for peaches in June and asparagus in August.  Know also the adage, what grows together goes together.  When you go shopping, think complimentary flavors and dishes.  You can stretch that expensive box of heirloom tomatoes by baking them with local plentiful summer squash.   Know also what local food looks like.  A good Michigan peach is much smaller than a supermarket peach.  Also, great local produce is not always as pristine as the grocery store versions.  Remember very much, what’s in season this year is not the same as what was in season last year.  Produce is like the Jewish holidays.  They’re either early or late.  Review the Local Beet for our regularly posted updates on What’s in Season Now for the most current and complete information on what you can find.

  • Wheel and deal – There is no more important piece of advice than this.  Farmer’s rarely want to bring anything home.  He or she that can make that offer for the rest of this, the remaining that, will get the best deal.  In almost all cases, the more you buy, the more you save.  It’s not the Casablanca souk.  You do not bargain down a bag of lettuce from 100 dollars to 50 cents, but as soon as you start buying more than a few of anything you can start wheelin’ and dealin’.
  • Bring your things – They’ll tell you to bring your own reusable market bags.  What about your reusable market containers.  Farmers will love if you can dump their berries or whatnot into your own container.  They’ll love you almost as much if you bring their containers back the next week so they can re-use them.
  • Take the yucky stuffAnother way to get a bargain, take it off their hands.  If you plan on baking or something, do you need pristine fruit.  Many farmers already label “seconds”.  If you don’t see such, ask.
  • Something else really important to ask, keepability.  Some apples will last you all year.  Some are soft by next Tuesday.  Ask.  Same goes for onions or potatoes.  Farmers will also give you good tips on how to store your purchases.
  • Another way to save money.  Did you rush in and buy the first tomatoes.  Grown indoors just for you.  And north of $4/lb too.  Or did you wait a bit for normal tomato season.  Bet you did not spend as much.  OK, that’s easy.  The other thing to think about is produce not something like several weeks (if not months) away, but something maybe just a week a way.  In other words, the first time something hits the market, it is often a lot more expensive than it will be when it has been around for a few weeks.  Get your peas next week.  Moreover, by the end of the season, an item may be even cheaper.  If you make strawberry jam, try to wait as long as possible to get the best price.
  • A complete eat local diet – Remember, farmer’s markets are not just for fruits and vegetables.  Around the Chicago area you can find pastured pork, grass-fed beef.  How ’bout spicy elk sticks, that too.  Butter, cheese, yogurt and more from the dairy aisles can be had.  Nuts for nuts, you can find ‘em local at the right time of year.  Each year, we’re seeing more stuff at markets, from great sauces to Chicago made tofu; markets are not just for produce.
  • Peak around - Looking for local eggs?  Many farmers bring eggs to the market without the necessary licenses.  They just might be willing to lend you a dozen or sell you the cartons.  Who knows what else you may find when you look deeper.
  • Find the bargain – Do you need the fanciest tomato.  Need potatoes, heirloom fingerlings?   Granted, those heirlooms are always worth the money, but sometimes something not quite as good is still pretty darn good.  Most of the slicers you find at half the price, will still hit the spot when they are farm fresh.  Remember that variety is good but you don’t always have to get the most expensive fruit or vegetable.  Save with the ordinary.
  • Use LINK – Do you know that many Chicago markets accept LINK.  In addition, LINK is accepted at suburban markets too, including Oak Park and Evanston.  There’s a chance that LINK will be accepted at your market, so ask. Better, several markets like Green City and Logan Square have programs to match LINK payments. In other words, LINK users can get much more when using their card. If you are a LINK user, find out from your market, the matching programs.
  • Time your market – There are a few things to think about when it comes to market timing.  First, what time does your market actually get going?  We know a few markets that start selling before their official start time.  When do you need to get there to get what you need.  Second, when do your farmers run out of food.  Just because your market closes at noon, means you can go shopping at 1145.  On the other hand, want to bargain as noted above, getting there late usually gives you the best chance.
  • A cooler couldn’t hurt – A few vegetables purchased, asparagus, sweet peas, can benefit from staying cool right away.  What if you want to buy meat, cheese, milk.  As we noted above, your market may offer more than fruit and veg.  Do you have a way to carry it home.
  • Make a friend – Like we say, you probably won’t buy from everyone.  And there’s a lot of good reasons to buy from one or two people.  Cultivate a relationship with a vendor you like by favoring them with your purchases.  In turn, you may get better deals and access to limited availability items.  They may even decide to grow something just because you asked.
  • Pay what it’s worth – We’ve given you several ideas for saving money, but know, at times, you have to pay what it’s worth.  Do you want organic?  Many markets give you choices between growing practices.  You have to expect to pay more for organic.  Want an early season tomato. Pay.  Interested in Illinois artichokes.  Pay.
  • Find the right market for you - A lot of people think we have too many markets in the Chicago area.  That may be true, but it surely means you have options. There’re all different.  Who sells what you want. Who grows the way you want.  What time works for you.  In addition, there are all sorts of great markets within a short drive of Chicago.  All it takes is a little roamin’ to find all sorts of new things. Still looking? Know that there are all sorts of virtual farmer’s markets in and around Chicago. Use our sponsor’s Fresh Picks to zero in on your needs or visit any of these stores for local stuff. And in the summer, local is everywhere. Scan the ads, you will be surprised how much local produce shows up in area grocery stores from Aldi to Whole Foods.
  • Use your senses – Who has the best cherries at your market.  Figure it out. No one’s gonna call the cops if you pinch one cherry.  Moreover, most farmer’s will offer you samples when asked.  Also, taste with all your senses.  Does it smell like you want to buy it.  Feel ripe (within reason!).  This is one of the reasons we’re not shopping at Trader Joe’s with all the stuff guarded by plastic.
  • Use social media – Friend of Beet, KennyZ finds virtue in early rising. He’ll probably give his Twitter opinion on the markets while you’re still in your pajamas. See what he and other people have to say on social media before heading out.
  • Know you need it – Write your market shopping list in pencil so you can erase and adjust.  No basil for your pesto recipe.  Maybe arugula (rocket) will do.
  • Know you don’t need it – One of the greatest joys of market shopping is returning home with all you did not need.  Why not to wreck up a cardoon.  Maybe this is the year to make damson plum jam.  Won’t know if you love lovage until you try it.

Please share your own market tips with us.


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Grow Rhubarb!

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Posted: April 30, 2015 at 8:45 am

Rhubarb is an easy to grow perennial that grows the best where the weather is cool for part of the year. It is one of the first crops that come up in the spring and is commonly baked into pies and other sweet dishes that need some tartness, such as muffins. Rhubarb has also been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times and the name “rhubarb” comes from the Latin rha barbarum, “Rha” being the ancient name for the VolgaRiver in Russia where the plant was native, and “Barbarum” denoting the people of the area whom the Romans considered barbarians.

 

Rhubarb Plant  Photo: Purdue University

Rhubarb Plant
Photo: Purdue University

 

Rhubarb is generally used as a fruit in dessert dishes but rhubarb has a savory side and can be used in sauces for meats and in braising. In fact, in 1947 a New York court stated that since rhubarb is used primarily in the way a fruit is used, it is therefore a fruit. Obviously the part of the rhubarb plant in question, the part used for culinary purposes, the leaf stalk, is within the bounds of the vegetative part of the plant. The fruit of the rhubarb is a sort of winged seed that grows on a stalk after the plant flowers. There are in many ways to cook rhubarb though and its versatility should be explored.

Rhubarb  Photo: Purdue University

Rhubarb
Photo: Purdue University

The cultivation of rhubarb involves planting the roots that have been divided from a parent plant. You can find rhubarb roots at most garden centers or you could just plant roots that a friend dug up for you from their own stock. The rootstock should be dug so that there are plenty of roots on the plant to help it get started. Rhubarb seeds will grow if planted but this is not a great way to start the plants as the seeds will probably not come back true to the parent plant. Seed propagation of rhubarb will more than likely result in stunted plants or plants with stalks that are stringy and flavorless.

 

The plants should be planted in a hole approximately the size of a five gallon bucket and the hole should be filled with a good mix of compost, soil and organic matter. The plants should be spaced 24 to 48 inches apart in rows 36 inches apart. The beds that the rhubarb is grown in should be slightly raised to provide for good drainage. Mulching the plants with compost or straw will keep weeds down and will ultimately feed the plants as well.

It will take a few years for the rhubarb plants to mature enough for any significant harvesting. Rhubarb will produce for years after it is established but it should be dug around every 5 years or so to trim the number of buds. This will help keep the plants vigorous and you can also separate the plants at this time to produce more rhubarb plants. One thing to keep in mind about rhubarb is that only the stalks are edible. The leaves contain large amounts of oxalic acid that can damage the kidneys and are toxic.

Rhubarb Stalks Photo: University of Minnesota Extension

Rhubarb Stalks
Photo: University of Minnesota Extension

Rhubarb is also somewhat decorative and can be used to border a garden or can be grown in other spots in the yard to fill in a blank space. Rhubarb has many uses beyond the traditional dessert and will produce for years. It is a great addition to any garden.

 

http://www.rhubarbinfo.com/growing

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhubarb

http://web.extension.illinois.edu/fjprw/downloads/5597.pdf


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Heritage Breed Pigs and Farmers Ruled at Cochon 555 Sunday

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Posted: April 28, 2015 at 5:21 pm

Heritage Breeds CochonFoundNicoleLeftoversCochon

It was all about the pig on Sunday at the 7th Annual Cochon 555, held at Morgan Manufacturing, celebrating heritage breed pigs.

The series of hyper-local events support education, awareness and growth of family farms raising heritage breed pigs. Since its launch in 2009, Cochon 555 and its programs, such as Chef’s Course, have created a responsive movement nationwide with people who care about local food made by honest people. The tour has invested over 1 million in farms, culinary schools and charities across the country and they are only getting started. For more information about the cause, visit www.cochon555.com or follow the conversation @cochon555 on Twitter.

The event Sunday, was a competition among 5 chefs utilizing a heritage pig as many ways as they could think and accompanied by wine from Washington State wines, St Francis winery Sonoma and other beverages like Whistle Pig whisky (yes, I appreciate the rather appropriate name), a mezcal chupito bar(which ended up being the perfect after pork drink) and many other options.  It was fun to see Farmer LouisJohn Slagel and his wife Leslie (they have a farm dinner coming up 5/23 with Nico Osteria) in the crowd and Ben the butcher from behind the counter at Publican Quality Meats. As much as the event was a pork and wine gorge-fest, the organizers through out the evening emphasized the relationship of farmer to animal to chef to plate on the table and what that means. Rob Levitt of Butcher and Larder held a pop-up butcher shop, the meat was then auctioned off for charity. The competition of King/Queen of pork was a tough one! This year’s competing chefs included Nathan Sears of The Radler, John Manion of La Sirena Clandestina, Chris Marchino of Spiaggia Restaurant & Lounge and Thomas Rice and Kurt Guzowski of TÊTE Charcuterie alongside the winner Nicole Pederson of Found Kitchen.

Chef Nicole won the event with a rare, but well-known breed of pig called the Hereford raised by Catalpa Grove. This breed originates from the U.S. beginning in the 1920’s and yields rich colored, marbled meat, which provided Chef Nicole ideal flavor for her winning menu of six uniquely created delicious bites. Dishes included Pork Au Feu Et Cou Farci, Pickled Pig Part Pani Puri Poppers( which were absolutely outstanding), Pork Loin Salad, Pork Belly Huaraches, Eastern Thai Style Rice Sausage(pictured above or at least what was left once she put out the plate) and a Smoked Lard Candy Bar (another standout for Nicole). Some of the crew of Found had returned from a trip to India so peacock feathers, papadum and spices were part of the mix on their table. Nicole will now move onto the finals at Aspen/Snowmass.

DasRadlerRadlerWineSepiaCochon

Every time I taste Chef Nathan Sears food, I love it and his plates at Cochon 555 reminded me that I need to get into the Radler soon!! It was fun to have the wine tables integrated among the chef tables because it made it easy to experiment with the different wine styles to create your own food pairings. Chef Andrew Zimmerman was plating beef tartar at his Tartar Bar. He and his crew made it look so easy despite the hoards of people in line waiting to try some. Each plate was beautiful. Each year this event gets more action packed so that there is always something new no matter what time you arrive. Whether you made it to Cochon 555 or you didn’t, the brand and concept continue to expand with more events, big and small, focusing on chefs and the farmer and their message of supporting the farmer and heritage breeds. The finals will take place in Aspen/Snowmass at The Grand Cochon 6/20/15 and stay tuned! They will be back in Chicago for their Heritage BBQ event on 9/6/15.


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We Get Some Pretty Cool Sponsors – Welcome Aboard Elizabeth Restaurant Monday, April 27th, 2015
We Look to Our Friends for This Week’s Harvest of Eat Local Links Friday, April 24th, 2015
UPDATED! What’s In Season Is Newer, Where to Find It May Not Be in Chicago – Sponsored by Vera Chicago Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015
With Earth Day A-Comin’, Why Not Commit to Eating Local Monday, April 20th, 2015
Less Than a Weekly Harvest of Eat Local Links Friday, April 17th, 2015
It’s Only in Season if Its Local Thursday, April 16th, 2015
Old and New – What’s In Season Now and Where to Find It – Sponsored by Vera Chicago Wednesday, April 15th, 2015
Welcome Back – A Long Standing Relationship with Our Sponsor Paul Virant and His Restaurants Monday, April 13th, 2015
The Not Quite Weekly Harvest of Eat Local Links Monday, April 13th, 2015
The Local Calendar 4/10/15 AUA Spring Gathering, 100Watts!, Pastoral Producer Festival, Cochon 555, GCM Outdoor 5/2, Morel Mania Friday, April 10th, 2015
Feeling Fruity Friday, April 10th, 2015
Carosello Barese – The Italian Cucumber/Melon Story Thursday, April 9th, 2015
UPDATED! – We Won’t Be Having This Conversation Next Spring – Local Foods Coming Soon Thursday, April 9th, 2015
You Can Find What’s In Season Now Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
“A loss for the whole community” Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
This is Not Your Parent’s Spring Season Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
Irv and Shelly Have What’s In Season Now Monday, April 6th, 2015
Weekly Harvest of Eat Local Links Friday, April 3rd, 2015
For Local Food We Go to Wisconsin to Woodman’s Thursday, April 2nd, 2015
The Return of the Local Kid, Now With Newsletter Thursday, April 2nd, 2015
This is NOT Your Momma’s Bread of Affliction Thursday, April 2nd, 2015
Hooked on Fish – A CSF in Chicago Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
Mind Your Own Beeswax Or Maybe Not, Beeswax Alchemy by Petra Ahnert Monday, March 30th, 2015
Gone Sauer on the Good Food Expo Sunday, March 29th, 2015
Weekly Harvest of Eat Local Links Friday, March 27th, 2015
The Bock Beer Article for Rob Friday, March 27th, 2015
What’s in Season Now (Salad) and Where to Find It – Sponsored by Vera Chicago Restaurant Wednesday, March 25th, 2015
How to Brag About (Green) Salad Wednesday, March 25th, 2015
Farmers market and local food grant-writing workshops planned Tuesday, March 24th, 2015
Welcome to the Local Beet Tuesday, March 24th, 2015
Best of Good Food Festival 2015 Monday, March 23rd, 2015
Why Eat Local – RECYCLED Thursday, March 19th, 2015
Living the Local Life – An 18 Point Guide (2015 Version) Thursday, March 19th, 2015
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The Local Calendar 3/18/15 Good Food Festival, Spring Thaw, Local Food Lobby Day Wednesday, March 18th, 2015
When Will it Ever Get Warm, Thank God It’s Warm, Oh My God, It’s Warm Tuesday, March 17th, 2015
They Wanted Beer – Jim Slama Talks to Us About an 11th Good Food Festival Tuesday, March 17th, 2015
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Vera Says Choose to Eat Local – What’s In Season and Where to Find It Wednesday, March 11th, 2015
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Our Beet Reporter in Spain Friday, March 6th, 2015
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Beet Classics – Talking ’bout CSAs Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015
We’re Getting the Band Back Together – Band of Farmers That Is Monday, March 2nd, 2015
Today is National CSA Sign-up Day! Saturday, February 28th, 2015
There Was Still Time to Harvest the Eat Local Links Friday, February 27th, 2015
The 2015 Local Beet List of Community Supported Agriculture Farms (“CSAs”) Thursday, February 26th, 2015
Hear Local Music at City Winery Sunday, March 8 Carrie Newcomer: Forager, Farmer, Hunger Activist, Musician Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
Never Stop Eating Local – What’s in Season and Where to Find It Sponsored by Vera Chicago Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
The Taste of Chicago Should Be Serbian Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
The Local Calendar 2/20/15 Charc Week, 6th Annual PGP Seed Swap 3/1, 28 Days to GFF, Green City Market This Weekend Friday, February 20th, 2015
Us and Green Grocer Go Way Back….RECYCLED – Eating Green by Cassie Green Thursday, February 19th, 2015
An Effective Locavore Takes Short Cuts Thursday, February 19th, 2015
Congratulations to the Sugar Beet and Other Eat Local Links Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
Eat Local Later Now Because My CSA Did All the Work Tuesday, February 17th, 2015
My Winter Tomato Mountain CSA Gets Me Ready for Summer Monday, February 16th, 2015
What’s In Season and Where to Find It – Sponsored by Vera Chicago Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
The Next Weekly Harvest of Eat Local Links Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
Eat Local Smoked Fish Monday, February 9th, 2015
Recycled – Resist the Tyranny of the Fresh Friday, February 6th, 2015
Vera Wants You to Know What’s in Season Now and Where to Get It Thursday, February 5th, 2015
This Week There Will Be a Harvest of Eat Local Links Monday, February 2nd, 2015
The Local Calendar 1/30/15 Food Policy Summit, PGP Benefit, Cider Summit Returns Feb. 7th, Winter Markets Friday, January 30th, 2015
This Is Not All That Came In My Tomato Mountain CSA Box This Week Thursday, January 29th, 2015
Seeds 2 Sucess II – Greater Peoria Food Summit Wednesday, January 28th, 2015
This Week Eat Local Without Venturing Outside – Irv and Shelly’s Freshpicks Monday, January 26th, 2015
Winterize your Chickens to Keep Them Healthy and Laying Sunday, January 25th, 2015
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Weekly Harvest of Eat Local Links Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
What’s in Season Now – Winter Markets – Updated for Third Week in January Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
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Doctor, Your Tomato is Ready in Surgery Thursday, November 13th, 2014
Let’s Start with Some Links – Weekly Harvest Monday, November 10th, 2014
The 2014-2015 Local Beet Guide to Chicagoland Winter Markets Wednesday, November 5th, 2014
Make Your Own Root Cellar/Store Your Own Food Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
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