We proudly introduce another big list of CSA farms serving the Chicago area. The list includes produce farms as well as animal farms, even a honey CSA. We take an expansive view of CSA operations, and our list includes various “aggregators”, distributors, and retail operations as well as farmer-owned enterprises. We’d rather err on choice.
As we promise every year, this is only a draft. We are always adding, amending, sadly sometimes removing, farms and information about the farms. Moreover, as in previous years, this is a crowd sourced document. Please let us know about any farms or CSA variations we missed.
This year’s CSA guide was a combined effort of several Beet Reporters, with special contributions from Robin Schirmer, Sophie Gardner, Sheila Essig and the staff at FamilyFarmed.Org. We continue to rely heavily research done by Wendy Aeschlimann, who built the database we still use.
We have made diligent efforts to ensure all CSAs listed currently operate, and, to the extent possible, updated their prices for 2015–some CSAs have not published price schedules for 2015, and we have noted that in the listings. Other information in our table may not be current, and we advise you to always contact the farm for current drop-off and delivery information as well as various updates.
The Guide below is completely searchable and sortable. The search box in the upper right-hand corner may be used to narrow down the farms by typing in key words. For example, by entering the name of a specific town, nearby towns, or Chicago neighborhood, the Guide will list only farms delivering to those areas.
The search box may also be used to find farms offering unique services or goods (such as, certified organic, eggs, or home delivery). Each column may be sorted alphabetically by clicking the arrows in the header of each column. Finally non-traditional CSAs are noted with an “A”, to indicate that they aggregate their products from several sources; in some instances, they augment with non-local offerings.
As always, we welcome news, additions, corrections and suggestions for our guide. This is a living table, and if your farm is not there now, we hope to have it listed soon. Please use the comments or email Local Beet Editor Robert Gardner at Rob @ thelocalbeet.com to help us make the best listing possible.
|Name/Location/Website||Type of CSA||Type of Farm or Farming||Type of Shares & Cost||Pickup Sites?||Home Delivery?||How often?||Length of Season||Extra Products/Information|
|Vegetable & some fruit (mostly melons)|
Balanced selection of 10-14 vegetables per week & melons
|Biodynamic approach to organic farming||20-week Vegetable Share ($720)|
Half Vegetable Share ($400)
Also offers various flex shares, extended season and fruit options. See web site for details.
|Pickup @ farm, or in the following SUBURBS: Highland Park, Deerfield, Winnetka, Wilmette, Evanston, Oak Park, Rockford, Arlington Heights, Edison Park/Park Ridge, Elmhurst, La Grange, Downer's Grove, Wheaton, Geneva, Elgin, Crystal Lake|
In CHICAGO: Ravenswood Manor, Wicker Park/Bucktown, Rogers Park, Andersonville/Edgewater, Uptown/Ravenswood, St. Benedict's, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Irving Park, Logan Square, Hyde Park, Beverly
In WISCONSIN: Beloit, Lake Geneva
Home delivery available
|Yes||Weekly (20 or 12-week shares)|
Bi-weekly (1/2 share)
Flex share - sign up for number of weeks desired
|Mid-June through mid-Oct. (for 20 week or 1/2 shares)|
Mid-Aug. – mid-Oct. (for 12 week late start share)
|Fruit shares extra starting with 10 deliveries for $480
Extended season shares available
|Barrington Natural Farms|
|Vegetables and fruit or "Full Diet" with eggs, milk, meat added||Natural - see web site for farming practices||Full Vegetable Share ‐ 22 Weeks $72|
Half Vegetable Share – 11 Weeks $395
Full Diet CSA Share – 22 Weeks $3,495
Full Diet CSA Half Share‐11 Weeks $1,895
|Pickup @ farm||No||Weekly||May - October||Meat, eggs|
|Beaver Creek Gardens|
Poplar Grove, IL
|Fruits & vegetables|
|Organic; harvests own seeds, grows own inputs, and cycles according to nature||Full Share (¾ bushel) $595.00|
Half Share (3/4 bushel every other week 10 wk total) - $350.00
Individual Share ( ½ bushel every other week) $240.00
|Pickup @ On Farm or Poplar Grove|
|Jun-October||Egg CSA extra (year-round)
Will limit subscribers to 100
|Bob's Fresh and Local|
St. Charles, IL
|Vegetables and herbs||Produce grown using organic practices, including only organic fertilizer and pesticides||22 week $725 |
16 week $$525
6 week $225
11 biweekly $430
8 biweekly $325
3 biweekly $115
|Pickup likely to be at farm, St. Charles, Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Geneva, Elmhurst, Lombard, East Dundee||No||Weekly (20- or 18-weeks)|
|Summer and Summer/Fall|
|Vegetables||Subscription vegetable program delivers to your home & includes a wide variety of vegetables.||20 weeks $900 (feeds family of four)|
1/2 share $500 (feeds 2 people)
|Home delivery to Hinckley, Big Rock, Waterman, Shabbona and the surrounding area||Yes||Weekly||16-20 weeks (June-October)||None|
|Broad Branch Farm|
|Separate vegetable, meat (some combination of pork, poultry, beef), egg and fall shares||Chemical-free farm that claims to surpass USDA organic standards||Full $583|
Custom share (min. 11 weeks) -- you choose the weeks $28.50
See web site for prices on egg, meat and fall CSAs
|Pickup @ the farm or in Peoria, Peoria Heights & Naperville||No||Full share is 22 weeks|
Half-share is biweekly for 11 weeks
Fall season - November
Wool, Angora yarn
|Vegetables||Variety of mechanized and non-mechanized tools, "home-grown" inventions||Full $350|
**2014 CSA Prices**
|Pickup @ the farm||No||Weekly||18 weeks - June - October||Bread $105
|Bumblebee Acres Farm|
|Fruit & vegetables, Wool/Yarn||3-generation, diversified farm|
No chemical pesticides or commercial fertilizers
|Not currently listed||Pickup @ Woodstock Farmer’s Market by "shopping" their booth & selecting what you'd like||No||Weekly||June - August||Wood/yarn CSA extra|
|C&D Family Farms|
|Pork, beef, poultry, lamb, bison, eggs||Raises hogs in their natural environment on pasture and in wooded areas where they graze on pasture or eat leaves, weeds, berries and acorns from their large wooded pens. Hogs are very social animals and are kept in droves so they can socialize and prosper.||When you choose to support our farm through purchasing a CSA, we will give you a C & D gift card. This CSA shareholder gift card will have the amount you paid, plus an additional dollar amount (additional amount increases as value of CSA increases). For example, a shareholder purchasing a CSA for $310 will receive a card valued at $350.|
Shareholders are then able to use this card at any of our locations throughout the year, as many or as few days per month as they would like.
|At Farm or |
Various markets in CHICAGO: Lincoln Square, Gold Coast, Andersonville, Hyde Park, Beverly, Pilsen and North Center; SUBURBS: Evanston
(Note this is for winter markets only. Schedule may change)
|No||Varies - At any market||Year-round|
|Cedar Valley Farm|
|Meat & eggs (Various cuts of beef, pork & chicken + eggs)||Raising animals without hormones or drugs in sustainable environment||3 months $315|
6 months $610
1 year $1200
Every-other-month option for smaller households
|On Farm or |
Pickup in CHICAGO: Lakeview, Edgewater, Logan Square, Lincoln Square; SUBURBS: Arlington Heights, Oak Park, Evanston, Aurora
|Chicago Honey Co-Op|
|Honey||Natural, chemical free||$75 credit toward future purchases||Pickup @ Green City Market or Logan Square Farmer's Market||No||Varies||Year-round||CSA members have access to products that we make or grow which we don't sell at the farmers markets or in our online store.|
|Chicago Patchwork Farms|
|Vegetables||Urban farm located on Chicago's west side||CSA is currently SOLD OUT - See web site to be added to their waiting list||Pickup @ farm on 2805 W Chicago Ave.||No||Weekly||Spring: 9 weeks (May-July)|
Summer: 13 weeks (July-end of Sept.)
Fall: 7 weeks (Oct.-Nov.)
|Countryside Produce |
|Vegetables, herbs & fruit (some fruit sourced from Michigan farms) |
|19.5-acre Amish farm using old-fashioned growing methods, including horses for plowing and avoiding use of chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides & insecticides (except in case of emergency, in which case Farmer will notify shareholders)||Not currently listed||Pickup @ farm, in Riverside & additional sites in Indiana & Michigan,||No||Weekly||May-Oct||None|
|Crème de la Crop|
|Vegetables, herbs & edible flowers ||Certified Organic (200 types of unique heirloom varieties); |
“Standard Market” plan gets more common market vegetables
“Epicurean” gets everything they grow
|Standard $760 (Full) $380 (Half) |
Epicurean -- Epicureans receive everything we grow, the first portions of a new variety that ripens out of our fields, and a slightly larger amount $950(Full) $475 (Half)
Additional prices for fruit and storage vegetables - see web site
|Pickup @ Farm, or locations in Windfield, Crown Point, Valparaiso, Merrillville, Schererville & Chesterton, IN||No||Weekly||Summer Vegetable & Fruit shares 18 weeks (June-October)|
Storage & Winter Fruit shares (Nov.-Dec.)
|Fruit and storage vegetables
Winter (non-local) fruit
|Earth and Skye Farm|
Local Harvest page
|Vegetables & herbs||Environmentally and sustainable methods of farming||$375 (contains 5-10 items)||Pickup @ the farm or in Orland Park or Frankfort||No||Weekly||20 weeks June – Oct.|
|Earth First Farms|
Berrien Center, MI
|Apples||Certified organic farming on 60 acres encompassing 4500 fruit-bearing apple trees||$75 annual membership subscription. Member shares are available until July 4th. In exchange for this commitment to support the farm early in the season, members receive apples, cider, and discounts worth $100 or more at regular retail prices.||Pickup @ farm, plus Chicago, Various suburbs, South Bend - see web site for specifics||No||Biweekly (6 shares)|
CSA members receive 60 pounds of certified organic apples and a gallon of our premium apple cider throughout the season. Every two weeks, each CSA member picks up a 10-pound bag (1 Peck) of certified organic apples of the variety that is most exciting that week.
|September through November||Discounted rates on cider and special bulk offers on other farm produce.|
|East Slope Farm|
|Vegetables||Preparing to transition toward USDA organic certification. That means we adhere to organic practices in all areas of production on the farm.||$450|
Additional options for Wisconsin residents
|Pickup at farm or Wilmette, Highland Park||No||Biweekly |
(In Wisconsin weekly or biweekly)
|11 weeks - June - October|
|Eden Place Nature Center|
|Vegetables||Sustainable urban agriculture||Full share - $500|
Half share - $300
|Pickup at the farm|
Offering additional pickups to groups of 20 or more
|No||Weekly||20 boxes - May 31 - October 11|
|Edible Alchemy Foods Co-op (A)|
|Fruits & vegetables||Food Co-op that organizes an all-organic or sustainably-grown produce share every other week||No commitment|
$33 Hive share
|Pickup in Eco Collective in Pilsen and other locations in Chicago||No||Weekly||Year-round|
(Non-local produce in winter)
|Enjoy Pioneer Farm - Hampshire, IL web site||Vegetables, fruit & perennials - U-Pick||Small, sustainable farm||Not currently listed||Pickup @ Farm||No||Weekly or biweekly||Summer - 20 Weeks||U-Pick from farm|
|Esther's Place/Lamb of God Farm|
Big Rock, IL
Local Harvest page
|Vegetables and fruit|
Wool, soaps, lotions and balms
|Embraces Christian principles in the spirit, character and depth of agrarian living|
Naturally grown produce; no herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers
Harvest dedicated only to CSA subscribers
|$795/year for a 20-week |
$30/week 1/2 bushel boxes
|Pickup in Wheaton, Big Rock, Aurora, St. Charles and Batavia||Yes||Weekly||June-Oct.||Wool, soaps, lotions and balms extra|
Local Harvest page
|Vegetables and berries||Biological soil management,Non GMO,No chemicals,herbicides,pesticides are ever used. Sustainable farming practices_Our way of life at The Farmers Garden.||Full $600|
|Home delivery||Yes||Weekly||18 weeks- May - October||TBD|
|Farmer Tom's CSA (A)|
|Vegetables & Fruit||Purchases produce from several growers that use organic methods.|
Operates differently than traditional CSA - you pay upfront membership fee and then order produce when you want -- no commitment
|$50 upfront membership fee & produce is paid for weekly (skipping weeks is permitted). |
Full share -> $37.00
Half share -> $27.00
Quarter share -> $18.00
|Pickup in Kenilworth, Berwyn and various Chicago|
See web site for specifics
|No||Weekly||Year-round (July-Oct, produce is local; from Nov-June, produce is selected from other nonlocal growers)|
|Four Friends Farm|
|Vegetables||Uses only organically-approved seeds, farms sustainably without the use of synthetic chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers||Full (1 bushel) $630|
Half (2 people) $400
Single (peck) $100
Community (donates to food pantry) $100
Worker share -- call for details
|Pickup @ farm or in Crystal Lake or Rogers Park (Chicago)||No||Weekly||(Jun-Oct)||None|
Prairie View, IL
|Vegetables||Heirloom GMO-free crops||Not currently listed|
"10 Spots for 2015"
|Pickup @ farm||No||Weekly or biweekly||June through October||Eggs, honey,|
St. Anne, IL
|Vegetables, eggs, poultry, fruits & herbs||Ecocert Indiana Certified Organic||Spring $145 (medium); $270 (large)|
Summer (21 weeks) $695 (medium); $1350 (large)
Fall $220 (medium); $420 (large)
Medium 3-season share $955; Medium spring & fall, large summer share $1545; Large 3-season share $1835
|Pickup in numerous drop-offs in Chicago and Northern Illinois. See web site for specifics||No||Weekly||9 months (Apr. – Dec.) or by season: Apr. & May (Spring); June-Oct (Summer); Oct-Dec. (Fall)||Egg shares starting at $34.50 biweekly for spring shares
Chickens (2/month) starting at $28 for spring shares
|Geneva Lakes Produce|
|Vegetables, some fruit||Sustainable farming||Full (bushel) - $645 - $660|
Half (half bushel) - $395 - 410
Price based on when enrolled
Additional prices for mushrooms or bread
|Pickup in numerous locations in Wisconsin, Chicago and Chicago suburbs including Oak Park, Logan Square, Grayslake, Evanston and Palatine. See web site for full list||Yes through Grubhub|
See website for details
|Weekly||June - Oct||Partnering with Simple Bakery & Market of Lake Geneva and River Valley Ranch & Kitchens of Burlington|
|Practices organic methods (no pesticides or herbicides)||Summer Share|
- Full - $525. - 16 weeks - June 19th through October 2nd
- Half - $275. - 8 weeks (bi-weekly, odd or even)
Fall Share - $225. - 6 weeks - October 9th through November 13th
Full Season (Summer & Fall combined) - $700. - 22 weeks - June 19th through November 13th
|Pickup in Barrington and Logan Square Farmer's Market||No||Weekly or biweekly||20 weeks (Jun-Oct) for full share|
10 weeks for half share
"Think outside the box" - prepayment for discount at the farmer's market
Three Oaks, MI
|Vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruit (up to 60 different crops throughout season)||USDA Certified Organic||Full $480 (weekly) |
Small $320 (biweekly)
**Note, these prices are for Chicago area only. Different prices for on farm, Michigan or Indiana pickup locations.
|Pick up @ farm or in CHICAGO: Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Logan Square; in MICHIGAN: New Buffalo; and in INDIANA: Mishawaka/South Bend||No||Weekly or biweekly||20 weeks (June -Oct.)||Winter CSA|
|Grass Is Greener Gardens|
|Meat & Poultry||Aggregating 4 different producers in Southwest Wisconsin that raise free range, grass & grain fed meat & poultry||Small $450, medium, $600, large, $740, poultry only $400 (Beloit and Farm pick up locations receive 10% off share cost).||Pickup produce @ farm & in Beloit|
Lakeview, Hyde Park, Oak Park, Beloit, Evanston, and on the farm in Monroe, WI
|No||Monthly (meat) or weekly (produce)||Meat shares are two 5-month cycles (Dec-Apr; Jun-Oct)|
Produce share are 20 weeks (June-Oct)
|Vegetables, herbs, fruit & cut flowers|
|USDA Certified Organic |
Mother-daughter operation using minimal machinery to farm 40 acres as it would be done 100 years ago.
Several additional options including tomatoes, eggs, dairy, and flowers
|Pickup in CHICAGO: Andersonville, Loop (LaSalle/Randolph); in SUBURBS: Evanston||No||Weekly||Summer -- 18 weeks||Cut flower share extra
Tomatoes, cheese, dairy, pantry items, meat and eggs - from Grassroots and other local farms
Thanksgiving share including one turkey
|Grateful Plains |
Grand Ridge, IL
|Vegetables, Herbs, Flowers, & Fruit||Small Plot INtensive growers for CSA|
No synthetic chemicals used on farm
Non-GMO from seed
Farm proceeds benefit Dirt & Duty Horticulture Therapy for Veterans and families experiencing PTSD
|FULL SHARE $830 approximately 1/2 bushel weekly|
HALF SHARE$560 approx. 1/4 bushel weekly–or– 1/2 bushel every other week
INDIVIDUAL SHARE $330 approx. 1/8 bushel weekly–or– 1/4 bushel every other week
TRIAL SHARE $140 four Half Share baskets to give the CSA a try!
Pre-pay, Military and Farm Volunteer discounts are available as well as internship positions. Different price for Lake Geneva residents
|Pickup on the farm and in Morris||No||Weekly|
(bi-weekly for Wisconsin)
|22 weeks - May - October||Other: Monthly buying club through United Natural Foods, local organic eggs at farm stand|
|Vegetables||Adhering to USDA Certified Organic standards while in process of becoming certified||Payment by Check: $360 for returning members $385 for new members|
Payment Online via website (includes 2.9% processing fee): $370 for returning members, $396 for new members
|Pickup in CHICAGO at Lakeview, Ravenswood Manor & River West and in SUBURBS: New Lenox, Frankfort, Oak Park & Kankakee||No||Weekly||20 weeks (June-Oct.)||None|
|Green Acres Farm |
North Judson, IN
|Vegetables||70-year old family farm started by Japanese immigrants in its third generation and growing Certified Naturally Grown organic vegetables||2-person $550|
**Note, these are 2014 prices**
|Pickup @ Green City Market & Evanston Farmer's Market plus West Loop and Beverly|
|No||Weekly||22 weeks (June-November)||None|
|Green Earth Farm|
|Vegetables (100 different varieties)|
Chickens, eggs, turkeys, geese & ducks
|Certified Naturally Grown vegetables||Full $500 (box --feeds family of 4)|
Half $300 (1/2 box --feeds 2)
|Pickup @ farm or in Gurnee or Crystal Lake, IL||No||Weekly||16 weeks (June-Oct.)|
|Green Earth Institute|
South Naperville, IL
|Vegetable & herb||USDA certified organic, nonprofit promoting health & environmental sustainability, leasing 49 acres at the McDonald Farm, owned by The Conservation Foundation||Main Season weekly share - $670 if your pickup site is the farm, or $690 other pickup sites|
Main Season biweekly share - $360 if your pickup site is the farm, or $370 if you choose other pick up sites
Spring weekly share - $140 if your pickup site is the farm, or $150 if you choose other pick up sites
Spring biweekly share - $75 if your pickup site is the farm, or $80 if you choose other pick up sites
Fall weekly shareis $140 if your pickup site is the farm, or $150 if you choose other pick up sites
Fall biweekly share the price is $75 if your pickup site is the farm, or $80 if you choose other pick up sites
|Pickup @ farm & in Batavia, Lombard, Western Springs & Winfield, IL||No||Weekly or Biweekly||Spring (4 weeks)|
Main (20 weeks – Jun-Nov.)
Late Fall (4 weeks – Nov.)
|Green Grocer (A)|
Chicago, IL (West Town)
|Vegetables and some specialty items||Small store specializing in local and organic food that puts together a weekly box of organic and/or local foods (not all foods are local)||$18/week for single share|
$26/week for single plus share
$32/week for double share
|Pickup at store or delivery||Yes -- available to a limited area $8 (boundaries are North to North Ave., South to Van Buren, East to State & West to Western)||Weekly||Year-round||None|
|Growing Power |
Farm Co-op in Wisconsin
|Vegetables, Fruit||Market Basket Program is a "cross between a mobile grocery store & CSA." Part of a cooperative that includes farms in Milwaukee region, farms in the Midwest & South, & urban farms in Chicago||Market Basket Program is a cross between a mobile grocery store & CSA. |
Place order weekly
|Contact the farm for details||No||Weekly||Spring, summer & fall||Winter CSA
|Harrison Market Gardens|
|Vegetables||Certified Naturally Grown produce & U-pick farm||Full Share (20 weeks) $750|
Every Other Week Share (10 weeks) $400
Every Other Week Share Chicago Delivery (10 weeks) $500. Includes delivery on Thursdays.
|Pickup @ farm, Chicago, Machesney Park & Arlington Heights|
Delivery to downtown Chicago or Arlington Heights sites extra $100/season for biweekly delivery
|Yes - We’ll deliver to your home if you have 5 or more boxes delivered to your home.||Weekly or Biweekly||Summer|
U-Pick April - November
|Monthly U-pick of favorite produce -- See web site for U-pick pricing|
|Harvest Moon Farms|
West Central Wisconsin
|Vegetables||Certified Organic||Pay-as-you-go box thru Peapod $29.99/week||Home delivery throughout most of Chicagoland via Peapod||Yes||As often as you'd like||July-Sept.||No|
|Healthy Food Hub (A)|
|Vegetables||"Consumer-operated," holistically-focused cooperative run through the Holistic Family Medicine Healthy Lifestyle & Prevention Chicago that uses collective buying power to purchase organic produce||$25 annual membership fee, pre-pay orders for produce||Contact collective for more details||No||Contact collective for more details||Contact collective for more details||Contact collective for more details|
|Heritage Prairie Farm|
|Vegetables||Dedicated to "Four Season Farming," in which the farm produces food during all four seasons through use of hoophouses||Spring $250|
FULL SUMMER CSA - $625 / Wheaton pick-up $675
HALF SUMMER CSA - $350 / Wheaton pick-up $375
FALL CSA - $250
|Pickup @ farm or at Wheaton French Market||No||Weekly (Full) or Biweekly (Half)||Spring (5 weeks starting in May)|
|Egg shares extra starting at $30
10% off Farm Dinner tickets May-November
|Vegetables, eggs, poultry||Organic||18 Week - $685|
Half share for $370
|Pickups in Rockford, Rochelle and St. Charles||No||Weekly or Biweekly||June through September||Hopeful Future: Free range poultry meats, honey, seedlings, gardening classes, goat milk/cheese, grains|
|Iron Creek Farm|
|Vegetables & small fruits (over 100 varieties)||Certified Organic (over 100 varieties of produce)||Standard $585 (one grocery bag)|
Family Size $875 (box)
Small $390 (1/2 grocery bag)
|Chicago, Indiana and southwest lower Michigan|
Contact farm for specifics
|No||Weekly||Standard & Large shares run from Jun-Oct|
Winter runs from Oct-Dec.
|Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks (A)|
|Vegetables & fruit. Website store has meat, dairy, eggs & more||Sources from organic & local (the box contains produce from outside the region.)||Various sizes and themes including veg, cleanse, and primal -- See web site for details||Home delivery. ($5.50 shipping & handling fee.)||Yes||Weekly, bi-weekly or when ordered||Year-round.||Boxes contain produce but can be customized to include non-produce items|
|Joe's Blueberries/Moss Funnel Farm|
|Fruit (blueberries)||Sustainably & naturally grown Jersey high bush blueberries||Blueberry Bush Rental: $35|
$85 can be
5 pounds a week for four weeks or
10 pounds a week for two weeks
10-pound box each week for three weeks
|Pickup at 10 sites thru Chicagoland |
Andersonville / Evanston / Lisle / Lombard / Long Grove / Naperville
Oak Park / Palatine / Park Ridge / Pilsen-South Loop / Ukrainian Village
|Yes -- contact farm for details||Weekly or biweekly||3 weeks during blueberry season||Winter CSA of frozen blueberries also available|
|Kings Hill Farm|
Mineral Point, WI
|Vegetables (with additional cheese share available)||Certified Organic||20 weeks|
|Pickup on Farm or in CHICAGO: downtown (several locations); in SUBURBS: Oak ParkWISCONSIN: Madison, Dodgeville||No||Weekly||Jun-Oct||Maple syrup $10
Weekly cheese share $100
|Klug Orchards/Green Organics|
Berrien Center, MI
|Vegetables, fruit with separate meat CSA||Most veggies are USDA Certified Organic||PRODUCE|
$295 (12-wk March start with add'l $10/mo increase thru June) or $480 (20-wk March payment with add'l $15/mo increase thru June)
See web site for additional prices, discounts
|Pickup @ farm and in Chicagoland farmer's markets including Downtown/Loop (Daley & Federal Plaza Nettlehorst, Independence Park & in SUBURBS: Wilmette, Northfield & Buffalo Grove & in INDIANA: South Bend||No||Weekly||June-Oct||Various meat, turkey options|
|Lake Breeze Organics|
Benton Heights, MI
|Vegetables & fruit (egg option)||Certified organic with emphasis on hard-to-find crops & Jersey blueberries||Full $550 (IL residents); $475 (MI residents)|
Half $300 (IL residents); $250 (MI residents)
|Pickup in Evanston, Ravenswood & Stevensville, MI|
See web site for specific addresses
|June-Sept||Egg share extra $54 (9 weeks); $102 (17 weeks)|
|Majestic Nursery & Farm|
|Vegetables, herbs||Certified Naturally Grown produce, annuals and herbs||THREE SEASON|
SPRING & SUMMER
Std. $560, Large $740
Std. $460, Large $640
|Pickup @ farm in as well as Chicago, Brookfield, and Naperville -- See web site for details and additional sites||Yes|
$5-$9 per week
Spring and Summer - May - October
|Meadow Haven Farm|
|Meat (Beef, poultry & optional pork), (egg option)||Certified Organic - grassfed beef, pastured pork, free range chicken||Traditional $330 (for 3 mos) includes a variety of ground beef, sausage, chicken, roast/stew meat/Soup Bones, steaks, shoulder meat, bacon, pork chops |
Express $330 (for 3 mos) includes ground meat and sausage
Cross-fit (larger than full, single box) $750 ($800 with eggs)
|Pickup @ farm and in Chicago, Elgin, Downer's Grove, Arlington Heights, Bloomington, Peoria, Quad Cities||No||Monthly with 3 month CSA seasons||4 seasons:|
February to April
May to July
August to October
November to January
|Midnight Sun Farm|
|Vegetables (egg option)||USDA Certified Organic |
3 acre farm in Prairie Crossing neighborhood w/pastured chickens
|Full Vegetable Share – $528 |
Half Vegetable Share – $264
|Pickup @ farm or in CHICAGO: Humboldt Park |
SUBURBS: Oak Park
|No||Weekly||Main season: 22 weeks (Jun.-Oct.) |
|Mike & Clare’s Farm Woodstock, IL|
|Vegetables||Certified Organic, small-scale intensive farming|
|Spring (4 weeks) $80|
Summer: Regular $450 (feeds 2 adults who cook 4x/week); Family $630 (feeds family of 4 who cook 5x/week); Half (biweekly) $225 (feeds 1 adult who cooks 4x/week)
|Pickup @ farm or in Chicago: Logan Square, Hyde Park, Lakeview|
|Mint Creek Farm|
|Grass-fed Meat (lamb, goat, beef, rose veal, chicken & pork), dairy & eggs||Organic, pasture-raised||Whole shares - 10 lbs|
Half shares - 5 lbs
Traditional CSA (includes pork, lamb, beef, veal, goat, poultry): 3 months $369 (whole); $198 (half); 6 months $698 (whole); $369 (half)
Pork & Poultry CSA: 3 months $263 (whole); $156 (half); 6 months $494 (whole) $263 (half)
Lamb & Goat CSA: 3 months $450 (whole) $244 (half); 6 months $838 (whole) $450 (half)
Weekly fresh meat & dairy home delivery packages - 4 week share from $124!
12 week share from $372
26 week share from only $806!
|Pickup in CHICAGO: At various farmer's markets, depending on season - See web site for details||Yes -- See web site for details||Monthly & weekly||Year-round 3 months or 3 month or 6 month subscriptions||Whole or half animal purchases an option|
|Molter Family Orchards|
Benton Harbor, MI
|Fruit, vegetables, herbs (6-8 vegetables+1 fruit item)||Certified Organic (MOSA)||20 weeks|
Half (biweekly) $375
|Pickup@ farm in Michigan; Kalamazoo & Benton Harbor; South Bend, Indiana||No||Weekly||20 weeks (June 1 - Oct 12)|
Half shares have 3 options (all options equal 10 share boxes):
1. Receive a share every-other week starting the week of June 1st.
2. Receive a share every week for the first 10 weeks of the season (6/1-8/3).
3. Receive a share every week for the last 10 weeks of the season (8/10-10/11).
|Once a member, you will have the opportunity for bulk buys throughout the season. Depending on annual crop, options may include but are not limited to: strawberries, peaches, pickling cucumbers, tomatoes, pears and apples.|
|Vegetables, herbs grown on farm |
Fruit sourced from organic farms across country (including some Midwest farms)
|Uses organic methods; committed to socially responsible practices & transparency (visitors allowed to visit farm)||Standard - prepacked by farm|
Custom - choose from web site each week
Custom CSA members have a minimum order of $22 each week
Farm builder - $990
Traditional - $590
Get started - $350
|Pickup @ farm in Sandwich; Multiple sites throughout Chicago as well as several Western suburbs. See web site for details||No||Weekly||24 weeks - June through November|
|Moraine View Farm|
|Vegetables, fruit||Transitioning to organic - MOSA (Midwest Organic Services Agency)||Regular - $400|
Half - $200 (bi-weekly)
Large - $600
|Pickup @ the farm and in Homewood, Milford||No||Weekly - Regular, large|
Biweekly - Half
|20 weeks - June - October|
|M’s Organic Farm|
|Vegetable (egg option)||Certified Naturally Grown veggies, free-range eggs||18 weeks (Woodstock) Full $455; Half $275||Pickup @ farm||No||Weekly||18 weeks (Jun-Oct)||Eggs - 6 dozen for season|
Grant Park, IL
|Pastured-raised meat (pork, chicken, beef, turkeys) & eggs||Two-time Frontera Farmers Foundation grant winner that pasture-raises chicken, turkey, eggs, pork, and grass-fed beef;|
3 CSA packages: Traditional, Kosher (not certified) & Fresh Cuts
|New CSA members will be charged a one-time startup fee of $26, covering the transportation and delivery of the meat in insulated totes.|
All shares 15 lbs of meat
3 month shares for $360
6 month share $690
Options include kosher and fresh cuts (i.e., no cured meats)
|Pickup @ farm or in Frankfort, Bolingbrook, and South Side of Chicago -- See web site for details||No||Monthly||Year-round in 3 month increments||CSA members can add a full egg share of 4 dozen eggs each month to their meat CSA ( $60 for 3 month shares, $120 for 6 month shares). CSA members may also add a 1/2 egg share of 2 dozen eggs per month ($30 for 3 month shares and $60 for 6 month shares).|
|Meat (Beef)||Specializes in grass-fed Black Angus beef, pastured chicken & turkey & "naturally raised" pork||Family Grass-Fed Beef share $389.98 (~ 45 lbs.)|
Premium Grass-Fed Beef share $439.79 (~ 45 lbs., includes premium steak cuts such as ribeyes, strips, filets)
|Contact farm for details||Contact farm for details||Contact farm for details||Contact farm for details||Maple syrup
|Newleaf Grocery (A)|
Chicago, IL (Rogers Park)
|Vegetables & fruit||Small grocer that offers weekly organic produce boxes (Note: produce organic though not necessarily local)||Start at $15/week (up to $33)||Pickup @ store; home delivery available||Yes||Weekly||Year-round||Call store for details|
|Nichols Farm and Orchard|
|Variety of vegetables & fruit||Family farm using sustainable practices and specializing in variety||Summer - 22 weeks|
Fruit & Vegetable Share: $880
Double Share: $1,650
Fruit and Vegetable Half Share: $440 - every other week
Fall - 7 Week Season
Fruit & Vegetable Share: $280
|Pickup @ farm or throughout 30 Chicagoland sites -- see web site for details||No||Weekly||Summer: 22 weeks (Jun-Nov.)|
Fall: 7 weeks (Nov-Dec)
|All CSA members will receive preferred customer benefits. You will receive a 20% discount on anything purchased at any of our farmers markets during the CSA season.|
|Our Farm in Volo (in partnership with Torpland Farm)|
|Vegetables||4th-generation farmers who are transitioning their century-old farm back to natural, sustainable farming practices. 3 of 17 acres dedicated to sustainable production.||Not Currently Listed||Not Currently Listed||No||Weekly or biweekly||Not||None|
Worker share option
|Sustainable & organic||Individual Share is $390|
Family Share is $780.
|Pickup @ farm or at a few in CHICAGO: Lincoln Square; Manteno Farmer's Market||Yes||Weekly||20 weeks June - October||Fruit, honey, soap available|
|Vegetables & fruit||Sustainable||Full Share-$600-|
Quarter Share-$150 a half share sized box every other week
Pushing the Envelope Farm
33W699 Averill Rd
Geneva, IL 60134
Elgin Drop site
Community Crisis Center parking lot
37 South Geneva St
Elgin IL 60120
|No||Weekly or biweekly||18 weeks from mid-June through October|
|Plow Creek Farm, Tiskilwa IL|
|Vegetables & fruit||certified naturally grown by intentional community||$450 / season for Evanston pickup, $375 / season for farm pickup||Pickup @ the farm or Evanston||No||Weekly||18 weeks, June - September||Possibly honey, whole wheat flour, or nuts|
|Purple Leaf Farms|
|Vegetables, herbs & flowers||Purple Leaf is not certified organic, but does not use synthetic chemicals at the farm.||15 weeks|
Farmer's Choice” Membership $300
Flexible Choice” Membership $375 (+$3.75/month to join FarmMatch)
| Day TBD: At the farm in on 87th Street in Chicago|
Day TBD: At Gensler downtown Chicago office (Gensler employees only.)
Thursdays at the University of Illinois at Chicago campus (West side)
Thursdays at the Hines VA Veterans Hospital Farmers’ Market (Hines, IL)
Thursdays at Jessica’s home in Forest Park, Illinois
Saturdays at the Printer's Row farmers market in Chicago
|No||Weekly||15 weeks from July - October||Flowers|
|Radical Root Farm|
|Vegetables, eggs||USDA & MOSA Certified Organic||Spring (4 wks) $145 SOLD OUT|
Summer (9 wks) $360
(18 wks) $605
Fall (6 wks) $220
|Pickup at the farm in Libertyville, College of Lake County, Horticulture Building or Logan Square Farmers Market||No||Weekly or biweekly (half shares)|
Vacation Rescheduling program (up to 4 boxes in calendar year)
Summer - 18 weeks (June-Oct.)
|CSA members receive 20% off at market
Egg shares $20 (spring); $94.50 (summer); $31.50 (fall) Half Shares (bi-weekly) available as well
|Ready Jam Farms|
|Vegetables (8-14 varieties including herbs)||"Organically Grown"||18 weeks|
|Pickup in at farm or in Crystal Lake, Elgin, Elmhurst||No||Weekly||18 weeks (mid-June through Oct)||None|
|R Family Farm|
Poplar Grove, IL
|Eggs||No chemicals, pastured raised||Email email@example.com for details||Pickup @ farm or @ farmer's markets in Northwest suburbs||No||Varies||Varies||None|
|Fruits & vegetables||Certified organic, naturally grown, grass-fed/pastured poultry & eggs||Full $566|
|Pickup at farm or in Palatine or Palos Heights||Yes -- to Michiana area||Weekly||June-Sept||Eggs & poultry (discounts for CSA members)|
|Rustic Road Farm|
|Fruits & vegetables||"Because the farm feeds our family, too, and we're also raising pigs, goats, sheep and turkey you'll never see a chemical or drug on this farm."||FULL SHARE (household of 4 to 6) for 22 weeks, $700 to $825|
HALF SHARE (household of 2 to 4) for 22 weeks, $405 to $450
Winter Storage Box, first & third weeks of November, $120
|Pickup at farm||Yes |
Batavia, Elburn Geneva, St. Charles & Sugar Grove
|Weekly||June - October||Eggs $120|
|Sandhill Family Farms|
Prairie Crossing, IL & Brodhead, WI
|Vegetables, herbs & some fruit (80% from their farm; remainder from other local organic farms), eggs, dairy, meat (sourced from Sandhill & 3 partner farms in Southern Wisconsin) & trout (sourced from Rushing Waters)||Certified Organic* (composed of 2 farms -- one in Brodhead, WI & one in Grayslake, IL)|
*all produce in vegetable share is certified organic except for strawberries and corn
|Sandhill offers a wide variety of fruit, vegetable, dairy, egg and meat CSAs. Certain CSAs are currently sold out. See their web site for additional options.|
Summer and Fall Vegetable - $725
Summer vegetable - $560
Fruit - $240
|Pickup at farm or in Glenview, Evanston, Lake Forest, Buffalo Grove, Mundelein, Northfield, Barrington, Glen Ellyn, Clarendon Hills or Oak Park||No||Weekly||Year-round||Eggs, fruit, cheese, meat - from other farms|
Half shares receive a box every other week
|Chicago/Lakeview||No||Weekly or biweekly||16 weeks - June - September|
|Scotch Hill Farm|
|Vegetables & herbs; flowers||Certified Organic||18 weeks|
Large family (double) share $1125
Fall $145 (2 lg deliveries)
*Prices denote Chicago CSAs; check with farm for Wisconsin pricing
|To be determined||No||Weekly||18 weeks (June or July-Oct.)||Flower shares available for $110 extra|
|Slagel Family Farm|
|Beef, pork, lamb & chicken||Hormone free. Boxes will include a variety - from chickens & beef steaks to breakfast sausage & hamburgers||$60/month + $5 for delivery location||Blue Frog Local 22 - 22 East Hubbard Street Chicago|
West Town Bakery - 1916 W Chicago Ave Chicago
|Spring Bluff Nursery|
Sugar Grove, IL
|Vegetables||Historic Farm||Full share $525|
Half share (every
other week pick up)
|On Farm||No||Weekly||16 weeks - June - September||Flowers, eggs, Christmas tree, honey, pumpkin|
|Strom Family Farm|
|Vegetables||Sustainable management practices||Full $480|
Half $280 - biweekly
|Pickup @ farm or Elburn||No||Weekly or biweekly||16 weeks - June - October|
|Tempel Farms Organics (frmly Red Tail Farm)|
Old Mill Creek, IL
|Vegetables, fruit & flower||Grow vegetables according to the strict standards of organic certification (no petroleum based pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or fertilizers).||Summer (20 wks) $625; Half (10 wks/ biweekly) $380 |
Fall $130 (pickup on farm only)
See web site for additional options
|Pickup @ farm, or Gurnee/Waukegan|
|No||Weekly or biweekly (half)||Summer: 20 weeks (Jun-Oct)|
Fall: 3 weeks (Oct-Nov)
Fruit share: 18 weeks (June-Oct)
|Three Plaid Farmers|
|Vegetables||No chemicals, minimal impact on land||$680/season||Pickup at farm (Winfield), in Aurora, Lincoln Park, Wilmette, Arlington Heights & Batavia||No||Weekly||June-Oct.||Herbs, herbal teas, fruit, and flowers|
|Tomato Mountain Farm|
|Vegetables, herbs and some fruit|
Optional add ons include eggs (certified organic) from New Century Farm & other various products such as maple syrup, honey, flour, oil & cheese from small local farms
4 distinct share seasons covering 12 months (including winter share)
|Tomato Mountain offers two forms of membership, Sustaining and Seasonal. For each form of membership, they offer four box sizes from solo to large.|
See their web site for all options.
|Home delivery throughout the greater Chicago area. No pickup sites.||Yes (throughout Chicagoland). Delivery fees vary by zone.||Weekly (except for biweekly Winter)||Year-round||Tomato Mountain's jarred salsas, juice, soup, jam and other products as well as extra produce (as available) can be added to weekly delivery.
Egg shares available
Online store features products from other local farms including honey, sunflower oil
|Meat||USDA Certified Organic meat that raises grass-fed Scottish Highland/Black Angus cross cattle; beef sold by halves and quarters.||1/2 Share $625 (1/4 Beef)|
1 share $1200 (1/2 Beef)
2 shares $2375
For one share, Trail’s End Organic Farm will provide a side of certified-organic grass-fed beef over 12 months, with the cuts varying from
month to month
|Pickup in Evanston with potential for more sites Wheaton, Peoria Heights, & Pekin, IL||No||Monthly||Year-round||None|
|Vegetables & herbs||Family-owned practicing bio-intensive urban farming||Full (weekly) $700-720|
Half (biweekly) $385-395
Price based on how many payments requested
Additional fee for credit card payments
Shares are 1/2 bushel
|Pickup @ farm & Elgin, Hampshire, Streamwood, Roselle, Wheaton, Berwyn, Logan Square, Sycamore, Dekalb-NIU, Huntley, Arlington Heights, West Dundee, Rockford||No||Weekly or biweekly (half)||18 weeks with possibility of bonus week or two (June-Oct.)||None|
|Urban Canopy/Local Unified CSA|
|Vegetables & local products such as bread, mushrooms, coffee, and kombucha||Sustainable||See web site for current pricing||Delivery to Chicago||Yes||Weekly||Year-found||Kombucha, bread, granola, coffee|
|Vernon Park/Mother Carr's Organic Farm|
|Vegetables||Organic||Not currently listed for 2015||Chicago - South Side||No||Biweekly||22 Weeks ("Harvest Season")||None|
|Meat (Range-fed beef, chicken, pork, turkey, eggs)||Meat is free of antibiotics, hormones & animal by-products||$100 each month with a minimum 3 month commitment|
$5 one time freezer bag fee.
Each month's share is about 18 pounds of beef, chicken, pork & eggs. Members can opt for "no beef", "no pork" or "no chicken" and receive different mixes
|Pickup @ farm in Walnut, IL or |
Ottawa, Yorkville, Oswego,
Quad_Cities (Bettendorf, IA), Batavia, Aurora, South Elgin, Naperville, Lombard
|No||3, 6 or 12 months||Year-round||Can add-on extra products such as ground beef, sausage patties, links, etc.|
|Vegetables & fruit (tomatoes, cabbage, green beans, sweet corn, watermelon, cantaloupe, peppers & spinach)||No chemical fertilizers, insecticides or herbicides||Annual membership $175 then $19 per week||Home delivery. Delivery route includes Bloomingdale, Glen Ellyn, Roselle, West Chicago, Wheaton, Naperville, Lombard, Villa Park, Streamwood, Schaumburg & Bartlett||Yes||Weekly||22 weeks (June-Nov)||None|
|Willow Ridge Organic Farm (Formerly Sweet Earth Organic Farm)|
|Vegetables (special emphasis on heirloom tomatoes)||Certified organic in 1974||Full Share - $550|
Partial Share - $400
Mini Share - $250
|Arlington Heights, Elgin, Chicago--North Center, Old Irving, Logan Square, Portage Park||No||Weekly||18 to 20 weeks depending on the weather||Partnering with neighboring farms for add-ons, which may include additional fruit, eggs, honey, maple syrup, and more
|Wright Way Farm|
Local Harvest page
|Vegetables & herbs|
Work shares available
|Certifed Organic & use only heirloom seed varieties||Full $440|
A full share is a bushel. The half share is half of a bushel basket.
|Pickup in ILLINOIS: Rockford, Park Ridge, Morton Grove & Northfield; in WISCONSIN: Beloit & Kenosha||No||Weekly||June - Oct||None|
Carrie Newcomer will be City Winery Chicago Sunday, March 8 at 5PM to showcase her newest CD called “A Permeable Life.” She is a champion for social justice, particularly hunger efforts. Don’t miss this special performance in an intimate setting at City Winery. Tickets available online at: citywinery.com/chicago
Who eats local in February? You do. Your sponsors at Vera do–go listen to Chef Mendez kvell over his 1871 milk. Ok, it’s not a weekend filled with winter markets. But you have something. You can always shop at these places. Just as good, you can get your local food without leaving home by visiting our sponsor Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks. And don’t forget, local food is not just the “fresh” stuff.
In addition to the following markets, there are several stores in the Chicago area that focus on selling local foods.
All sorts of food including sausages and tofu plus all you can Nosh await Sunday, March 1 from 10 AM to 3 PM at the Logan Square Farmer’s Market - 2755 N. Milwaukee Av
Faith in Place Winter Market at Beverly Unitarian Church on Saturday, February 28 from 9 AM to 1 PM. - 10244 S. Longwood
Weekly winter market at the Evanston Ecology Center on Saturday, February 28 from 9 AM to 1 PM, with a chance to catch the Condiment Queen selling - 2024 N McCormick Blvd
Community Winter Market on Saturday, February 14 from 9 AM to 1 PM - 327 Hamilton
If you know of any other farmer’s markets in the Chicago area, please let us know.
Yesterday, I was at my Mother’s house. She asked me to help promote a farmer’s market being held at her synagogue in April. I will, but my immediate comment was, it was nice for someone to throw a market in April. See, we have very few Spring markets. It reminded me, which I mentioned last night, that come Spring, I would likely re-post one of my rants about needing more Spring farmer’s markets. That made me think of another thing I’ve been meaning to rant. What our local food should really taste like.
We have lots of local food these days in the Chicago area. The Local Beet CSA guide should be up soon, and again should have over seventy-five area farms. Beyond the farms, there is all sorts of local dairy, meats, artisanal products, a very complete locavore diet can be had. Except what does it taste like. Of Chicago. The Midwest. Our area. What I see, mostly, is that we take all of our local food and use it as building blocks for making other cuisines. We do not use it to make food that is local. It really bothers me that there is no taste of Chicago. Luckily, I have an idea where to look.
A couple of weeks ago, I ate herring in a bathrobe with Mike “SkyFullofBacon” Gebert. Him being a worldly food person, I asked him a question I’ve long wondered. Why has not the New Nordic caught on in Chicago. After all, this is food based on it being very cold. We can relate. We need root cellars. Instead, over and over and over and over again, the restaurants that are opened in Chicago look South. Often South like Big Jones or Carriage House. Just as often, in Southerly directions, all those Italian and Spanish or Tex-Mex diners, and when those get boring, how about more Italian? I asked Mike, why when the big guns worldwide are clamoring for potatoes cooked in decomposed forest leaves, we’re putting another branzino on the table. Having only put one shot of post-schvitz vodka in him, he had no good answer.
My answer, however, as I thought about it, was that Chicago aint Sweden. We should not look to the North to make our plates as polar vortex-y as its been of late. First of all, polar vortex aside, we’re not a that North. Stockholm is only 500 miles from the Arctic Circle, and Stockholm is way on the bottom of Sweden. They make our growing season seem like California in comparison. Second, and more important, all of those countries, Sweden and Denmark and such are surrounded by water. Their cuisine revolves around herring, salmon, shrimps and other sea creatures. How can we duplicate that in Chicago. Not with local food. Do you know what the Serbian National Tourism Board says Serbs eat for fish: carp, perch, and catfish. That’s some swimmers we can net. Want to know who we should be following to make a local cuisine? The Serbs. Look at that picture above, does that not look like something from around here.
Perhaps, you see my case, that we should continue to model our food after the Italians. I mean as much as Beet Reporter Robert Haugland tries, we’re not getting a lot of artichokes here. Now, they say that only Warsaw has more Poles than Chicago (not Googling to see if true…). Maybe we should take heed in the popularity of paczki day and make all our days Polish food days. Believe me, I’m tempted, there’s a lot more to Polish food than good donuts. We might look there for inspiration. Still, it’s food of the North. The leading vegetables in Poland are the beet, the cabbage and the carrots. Surely, we have more. The food available to Chicago is both cold weather and hot weather. We need cabbage and beans in the winter but lots of peppers in the summer.
That is why we should look to the Serbs. If you travel to farm stands and markets around the Midwest outside the big cities, you would think all the farmers were Serbs. What do you, often what only will you see: tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, and eggplants. The building blocks of Serbian food.
Except what do you see when you see a plate of Serbian food. Meat sided with more meat, right? That was dinner not too long ago at a Serbian restaurant in Brookfield. Where’s the peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, etc. Don’t scoff. They’re there. The Serbs just like to put them on their own plates and eat them as appetizers or side salads. Sounds a little suspiciously like the Italians and their antipasti and contorni, no? In fact, my proposition is that Serbian food tastes like what Italians would eat if they lived in Serbia (and had Polish Aunts). Need further proof, look at the cuisine of Trieste. Why Serbia over Istria? It’s all about the coast baby. Land-locked Serbia has as much access to fresh oysters as we do. Serbian food is our food, and we should make our food Serbian food. Eating local demands more than harvesting food from nearby soil. It means tasting dishes that taste of that soil, of the local forests, fields and streams. What Serbian food tastes like. Homework: start learning more about Serbian food. I’m not done here.
Spring is surely around the corner because the local calendar is abundant with events, farmers markets and happenings. If you are contemplating an urban garden or have that planting idea in your head that you didn’t follow through with last year, the Peterson Garden Project has a class, workshop, and information to enable you to execute that plan. The PGP website is a “go to” for any urban gardener and now cook, since they have opened the Fearless Food Kitchen. To think only 6 years ago, they had their first seed swap. The PGP 6th Annual Seed Swap is on March 1st.
It is only 28 days until another event that has grown and evolved over the years, the 3 days (3/19-21) of the Good Food Festival. Rob Gardner continues to report on new developments and the GFF website is another “go to” resource for information on people, issues, chefs, farmers who are all a part of the good food movement.
Do you live on the north shore and are interested in sustainable farming, gardening, or food? The Talking Farm is your ”go to” resource for all things farming and good food. Their “Spring Thaw” Celebration is 3/22 5-8pm.
Finally, it is not Shark Week but Charc Week! The fine art of encased and prepared meats made locally is celebrated next week at many restaurants in Chicago, check out the schedule and the week is capped off with the Charc Bites party on Thursday, February 26 at The Dawson. Green City Market is back this weekend, with a new executive director in place Melissa Flynn, Empty Bottle market, Evanston, lots more on the calendar, check it all out! One last thought, if you can’t make it to a market, instead of going to Mariano’s, Whole Foods or Plum Market, if you are nearby stop by our friends The Green Grocer at Grand and Noble!! They source from a lot of the same farmers that go to the markets, Cassie has been a strong advocate for GMO free food and they are just great people!!
Saturday February 21
FM - Chicago(Lincoln Park) - Green City Market at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum 2430 N. Cannon Drivc 8am – 1pm (Indoor market dates: 3/7, 3/21, 4/4, 4/18)
FM - Chicago (Ukranian Village) - The Empty Bottle Farmers Market - 12pm – 5pm 1035 N. Western
Chicago - Delilah’s Vintage Beer Fest - Noon – 5pm 2771 N. Lincoln Ave. Delilah’s hosts its Eighteenth annual vintage beer festival. More than one hundred beers, primarily strong ales, barrel-aged beers and live beers, from over 50 breweries will be tasted – side by side – many in multiple vintages.
Sunday February 22
Chicago (Lincoln Park) - Floriole Monthly Supper Series - 6-8pm Racine and Webster
FM – Chicago (Logan Square) - Logan Square Indoor Market – 10am – 3pm 2755 N. Milwaukee Ave. (Every Sunday through March) and they partner with The Nosh. The Logan Square Chamber of Commerce will issue Coupons to SNAP/LINK participants to use like cash when buying food items. This is thanks to Link Up Illinois. At the Logan Square Farmers Market SNAP/LINK customers will be able to receive up to $30 in Coupons each market.
FM – Deerfield - Faith In Place Winter Markets – 10am – 2pm North Shore Unitarian Church 2100 Half Day Road
February 23 – 27
Charc Week - Includes The Butcher & Larder, The Dawson, La Sardine, Perennial Virant, The Radler, Table, Donkey, & Stick, Tete, West Loop Salumi, and Chop Shop will be featuring special Charcuterie offerings on their menus. Stop in any or all of them to see what they have come up with!
Chicago (Logan Square) – Our Kitchen, Ourselves – A Panel Discussion About Food and Feminism 7-10pm Revolution Brewing 2323 N. Milwaukee Sponsored by Graze Magazine What does it mean to be a woman and a chef? Or is the conversation over — is there equality in the kitchen? In conjunction with Render: Feminist Food & Culture Quarterly‘s #foodfemfeb events, Graze, Render, and Women and Children First are hosting a panel discussion about food and feminism, from the perspective of four well-known Chicago chefs, moderated by WCF’s own Lynn Mooney and Eden Sherman. Featured speakers include: Gale Gand, Beverly Kim, Iliana Regan, and Mindy Segal Come for the conversation and stay for the beer and snacks! Ticket price includes appetizers and free pours of Revolution Brewing‘s five signature beers.
Chicago – Charc Bites – The Official Charc Week Party – Join all of the Charc Week chefs at The Dawson (730 West Grand Ave) for bites of their signature Charcuterie creations. 7p – 10pm Moody Tongue, CH Distillery beverage sponsors tickets
Champaign - Heirloominous 2015 Seed Swap at Prairie Fruit Farm 1-4pm
FM - Chicago (Beverly) - Faith In Place Winter Markets - Beverly Unitarian Church, 10244 S. Longwood Dr
Chicago (Lincoln Park) – Slagel Family Farm Dinner at White Oak Tavern & Inn - Farmer LouisJohn will leave the farmstead and deliver to their kitchen his freshest stock of farm-raised, hormone free meats. Chef John will plan on the spot the final, multi-course menu, which will be served family style that same evening. LouisJohn will join the dinner, prepared to discuss his famed family-run operation and what goes into producing quality meats. $90 per person plus $30 for wine/cocktail pairings. For reservations for this very special evening call 773-248-0200
Chicago (Lincoln Square) – Peterson Garden Project 6th Annual Seed Swap - 2-4pm Swedish Covenant Hospital 5145 N. California
Chicago (Rogers Park) – Heat It Up Pro-Am Chili Cook Off & Fundraiser – 12pm – 3pm 1328 W. Morse Ave. Join the fun as a competitive chili-master OR a delighted chili eater at the Sixth Annual Heat It Up! This way-too-delicious event is a great way to celebrate the many ways of chili as well as supporting Glenwood Sunday Market, Rogers Park’s favorite Farmers Market and its ground-breaking Food Access Programs. Chili, Live Auction, Cash Bar, 50-50 Raffle, Popular vote chili winners, Judged chili winners…great prizes for the chefs and a fantastic time for all!
Chicago (Andersonville) - Chef Edna Lewis Benefit Dinner - BIG JONES RESTAURANT | Chef Paul Fehribach, Owner 5347 North Clark Street Cocktail Hors d’oeuvres Reception ~ 6:00 pm 6-Course Dinner ~ 7:00 pm $125.00 per person
Chicago – Perfectly Paired – A Charity Dinner for Cooking Matters Chicago - Vera Chicago 6-9pm $125 Lake and Morgan
Brown County, Indiana – National Maple Syrup Festival - The National Maple Syrup Festival moves to Brown County, and March 5 – 8 will feature tree tapping, sap boiling, incredible foods and unique drinks using maple syrup as an ingredient. The Dutch Oven Diva will cook, bake and have samples of her sweet and savory foods around a huge stone fireplace in Brown County State Park. The rangers there will lead interpretive hikes, teaching how to indentify maple trees in winter and spring. Descendents of the Delaware and Shawnee will reenact how their ancestors made maple syrup on this land centuries ago, and nearby French Colonial reenactors will demonstrate how early white settlers made it differently.
Peoria – Seeds2Success II Greater Peoria Food Summit – 9am start Peoria Riverfront Museum 222 Southwest Washington Street
Chicago/Oak Park – 4th Annual One Earth Film Festival -
FM - Chicago(Lincoln Park) - Green City Market at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum 2430 N. Cannon Drivc 8am – 1pm (Indoor market dates: 3/21, 4/4, 4/18)
FM – Woodstock – Woodstock Farmers Market – 9am – Noon Farm Bureau
FM - Chicago (Hyde Park/Woodlawn) - 61st Farmers Market at Experimental Station - 9am – 2pm 6100 S. Blackstone (4/11) The Chicago Southside’s premier farmers market, straddling the Hyde Park and Woodlawn neighborhoods, offering the freshest produce, meat, eggs, cheeses and prepared foods from local and regional farms. This year’s lineup includes Ellis Family Farms, Organic Bread of Heaven, Mint Creek Farm, A10 Homemade Pastas, Sauce & Bread Kitchen, Growing Power, The Urban Canopy, The Eating Well and many more.
Chicago (Pilsen) - THE GOOD FOOD FESTIVAL - Thursday 3/19 Good Food Financing Fair, Friday 3/20 Trade Show, School Food and Policy Conference, Friday 3/20 Localicious Party, Saturday 3/21 Good Food Festival, Urban Farm Bus Tour
FM - Chicago(Lincoln Park) - Green City Market at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum 2430 N. Cannon Drivc 8am – 1pm (Indoor market dates: 4/4, 4/18)
Chicago – 8th Annual Pinot Days 2-5pm Navy Pier
Chicago – Band of Farmers CSA Coalition at The Hideout 5-10pm Join Band of Farmers at the 3rd Annual Talent Show–the event that started it all! We define “talent” broadly, from performance art to poetry to music, and of course the farmers’ fashion show! This year the Talent Show will be coupled with a silent auction featuring everything from farm-made foodstuffs to wearables to faerie homes. Proceeds will be used to start the Band of Farmers’ fund for CSA scholarships.
FM - Chicago(Lincoln Park) - Green City Market at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum 2430 N. Cannon Drivc 8am – 1pm (Indoor market dates: 3/21, 4/4, 4/18)
Chicago – 16th Annual Whisky Fest Chicago – 6:30pm Hyatt Regency Before there was Baconfest, Poutinefest, Donutfest and Ramenfest there was Whisky. Get ready for whisky week and all that it entails.
Milwaukee - CheeseTopia Noon -4pm The First Annual CheeseTopia, a new one-day cheese festival debuts at the Pritzlaff Building, a renovated warehouse in the Historic Third Ward of downtown Milwaukee, while Year two will be in Chicago, and Year 3 in Minneapolis.
Chicago – BACONFEST UIC forum Extra crispy, in a beignet, bacon in bloodies and more! Friday dinner 7-10pm, Saturday midday 12-3pm and evening 7-10pm.
Chicago – Pastoral Artisan Producer Festival at the French Market – Meet regional cheese makers, charcuterie, beer and wine producers. A day to taste and sip just about everything you can buy at Pastoral and it is free.
Green Grocer was the first sponsor of the Local Beet, and we wholly appreciated their support. Not too long ago, they declined to renew their ad, and they mentioned to us that things were not quite as good as they could be for a vital store like theirs. We gave a couple of nudges to see if they’d reconsider, but we’ve gone on without the Green Grocer ad. Regardless of that, we’re a little shocked, to see a little candor and confession recently expressed by them across various platform.
“Our little store has seen a significant decline in the number of people shopping with us daily. We have some theories on things that might have affected this, the loss of much of our parking zone, competition from new big box grocers, some of our very regular regulars moving out of the area and possibly things we aren’t aware of, but regardless of the cause, our little store is struggling.
It is incredibly difficult for me to write this email but I’m hoping that some of you who perhaps have forgotten about us or maybe don’t get by as often will consider trying to come in more. I truly believe that having an independently owned grocer that focuses on the highest quality foods (local and otherwise) is very important to our neighborhood and to the city. I can only hope you also feel there is value to a store that became one of the biggest purchasers from small local family farms (it’s very cool when you hear a small farm can buy a new tractor because of your purchases with them). We have only accomplished this because of your support.
Anyhow, I guess what I’m trying to say is that we need our community now more than ever. If you say you believe in local, organic and ethically sourced foods as well as independently owned businesses, I ask you to please put us on (or back on) your routine. If those things are not important to you, I respect that and only ask that you consider letting your friends know about us.”
Green Grocer has been more than a sponsor to us. They’ve played an important role in finding and getting us local food, especially when finding and getting local food was not so easy. Since we shared a mission, Green Grocer Head Grocer, Cassie Green, contributed this piece, with recipes in 2009.
Each year starts thrilling, almost intoxicating, for me. I find it even more exhilarating than the holidays preceding. Instead of mass consumption, mass excess and mass amounts of cookies, I seek fresh, clean, strict and healthy…or at least that is how it starts. If you are anything like me, you find yourself making all sorts of lofty promises. This year my promises ranged from the ambitious (“Do an hour of yoga every day!”) to the stringent (“Eat no sugar, flour or dairy ever again!”) to the downright stupid (“Lose the same 10 pounds you’ve been resolving to lose the last five years!”). Typically the “new me” lasts about 3-4 days until I get so annoyed with my own rules that I promptly order a pizza and decide to try again next year. On the other hand, here we are, into spring and I am still on tract with some very important goals made before the New Year began.
Early in 2008, I opened Green Grocer Chicago, a small market dedicated to selling the best local and organic foods possible. In coordination with my new business, I had the goal to simply try to eat as many local and organic foods as possible. I have always enjoyed eating healthily, with an occasional cookie/brownie binge for balance. But with the store, I realized my food choices could actually benefit the greater good (yes, one person can make a difference!).
Through my research for the store, I realized how much one person’s eating choices can add up to a lot of good for their own health, the health of their local economy and the health of our shared planet. I had always belonged to the club of “eat your vegetables and fruits” but until the past couple of years, I had never thought about where my food came from, how it was grown, by whom it was grown and how it got to me. Once I started thinking about those things, it became increasingly clear to me that I needed to give my eating habits a makeover (not the EXTREME kind where I hardly recognize the old version but just a gentle shift in the daily choices I make). One thing I try my best to stick with is to eat within the seasons. I have found that eating locally and seasonally has allowed me to eat the sweetest fruits and most flavorful vegetables. I do not crave asparagus in January, strawberries in October, or tomatoes in April. Why? Because I have tasted all of those foods in their growing season and for lack of a better term, they rock. When they are out of season here (and shipped anywhere from Chile to Australia to Florida), they look like their sweet seasonal counterparts but taste like nothing. And they are expensive! Why would I deprive myself of great taste?
It’s April in Chicago, and it snowed not too long ago. Other parts of the country are enjoying their first harvests of peas, asparagus, and other spring vegetables, not us. We live in Chicago. Certainly, nothing can grow around here this time of year you say. Well, I thought those exact same things. I have learned that there are things being harvested (as well still ticking away in cold storage) now. A century ago, before one could hop in a car and head to the grocery store that stocks everything under the sun, people actually grew their own food regionally and (gasp) lived! People found a way to make it through April snow. They even found things that would grow well and be delicious harvested under a spring frost. Am I suggesting that you pour a bunch of soil on the 2 x 3 wooden slab your realtor calls a deck and start farming to tide you over? Well, if you want to, absolutely! Luckily, we have options that require less work and less mess. How about buying food grown in the Midwest? Right here in Chicago!
I continue my resolution for the environmental impact of eating local and organic foods. Where ever you stand politically or even where you stand on global warming, there are a few things we can probably agree on: less chemicals in our food/bodies=good, less chemicals, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides in our soil and drinking water sources=good, less air pollution from unnecessary cross country food shipping=good. These are not political statements; they are just “good common sense” as my Depression-era grandmother would say. (“Duh” as my 12-year-old cousin would say).
So now you see why I have managed to stick with this resolution. You might be asking, “How can I eat more locally and organically?” especially on a budget and in April. You can do it! Here are my top ways to make local eating possible during the leanest times.
Get to know your root vegetables. Hate to say this but spring kicks off where winter just ended. Some of the earliest products farmers coax out of the cold ground are beets and turnips. Farmers also have carrots and parsnips that can safely be stored away all winter, ready when there are no other fresh foods. Sometimes these items are “overwintered”, left in the ground, where they gain incredible sweetness. There are also supplies of potatoes and onions from storage that will do you well.
Experiment. Ever taste a ramp before? Chicago was named for this wild onion, one of the first thing emerging from our soils. Local chefs have taken to this vegetable, creating many dishes. It is possible now to find ramps and other rare spring treats at farmer’s markets and my store.
Eggs-they are not just for breakfast. Traditionally, spring was the time when hens took to laying again. There is no more potent symbol of spring than the egg. Whip up a simple frittata with onions and potatoes for a great dinner. Eggs are an excellent (or egg-cellent as it were) and economical source of protein. Local, pasture raised eggs are the only way to go. They taste vastly better and offer more nutrition. Be wary when an egg carton says, “Cage free or free range”. It certainly does not tell the full story. The only places to buy truly good and fresh eggs are from the farmer directly or a store like ours.
Say “mooooooo”. Small, local dairies whose cows are eating grass (not corn) offer the sweetest and freshest milk. Spring also means the time of year that our cows are getting away from a diet of hay and silage and back to pasture. Milk is a spring thing too. Whenever possible, buy non-homogenized milk. Homogenization means that the fat molecules have been irreversibly forced with the sugar molecules, making it difficult to digest. In fact, studies show that people with lactose intolerance can often digest non-homogenized milk. Also, you’ll open up your milk bottle to find a delicious line of cream at the top. This is normal and how milk should be. Milk from grass fed cows has also been shown to be vastly more nutritious than milk from corn fed cows.
Urban farms find ways to grow. Chicago farms like Windy City Harvest, Growing Home and Growing Power have cold weather facilities. Hoop houses and green houses allow the harvest to keep on rolling. Experiment with nutritional powerhouse Spring greens like collards, kale, Swiss chard and mustard greens.
Freeze the summer’s harvest. I realize this doesn’t help you today but plan ahead for the upcoming big growing season by buying lots of local fresh berries, peaches, beans, asparagus, corn and every other fresh fruit or veggie you love and freeze it for exactly this time of year. You can find information about how to freeze and otherwise preserve your harvest from this Local Beet article.
Befriend beans. Dried and canned beans from the northern Midwest are a healthy way to bulk up your meal without slimming down your wallet. Eden Organic brand works exclusively with US farmers, most of which are in this region or north of us. They are a great source of fiber and protein.
Use meat as a treat. Much of the meat we find in stores and restaurants is chock full of hormones, antibiotics, chemicals, fecal matter, mercury, toxins and other unsavory things. Meat-producing animals have eaten foods they were never meant to eat while being kept in quarters so close that any living thing would lose its mind. This is why most meat is so cheap. Is it cheap for your health, the environment, or the welfare of fellow living things. On the other hand, when farmers raise meat on small family operations, with open pasture and care, it tastes much better. This meat has been given a true life. It enhances the environment around it. While this causes the price tag to rise, the benefits match. To offset the higher cost, make meat a treat (once or twice a week instead of once or twice a day). Buy meat from small, local farms. You support better taste, health, animal treatment, and environmental practices.
Get the special meat treat. There is such a thing as spring lamb, although few people have ever tasted this delicate, special meat. Eating locally means having relationships with farmers who can supply this seasonal special.
Know your resources. In a society that generally considers local eating to mean stopping at the McDonalds at the end of your block instead of the one two miles away, it can be hard to find people who actually can help guide you on your new and yummy way of eating. Green Grocer Chicago is full of ideas on how to eat locally and healthily.
Be flexible. You will not always be able to eat local or organic foods. I still enjoy citrus fruits, bananas, and avocados. They will never be local. They can be nutritious and organically grown, at least at our store. I do not beat myself up for choosing those foods on occasion and you should not either.
Empower yourself. You live in a country where change is just a step away. Start demanding your grocer stock local food. Choose to buy foods when they are locally grown, eat them until you are sick of them and then do not buy them again until the following year. Know that when you start spending your money on local and organic foods, more companies will start to do business that way (they follow money the way a lion stalks its prey). One person can change the world.
Here are some recipes to get you through the final few days of cold.
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Hash (serves 2)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (1/2 inch cubes)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons cumin
1 shake or two of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion for a couple of minutes. Add sweet potatoes, lower heat and sauté until fork tender (could be 15-20 minutes-add a little water to the pan if it’s getting too dry). When sweet potatoes are done, add beans and seasonings. Stir just to heat up. Enjoy!
We make this for breakfast many times and add a fried egg on top. Or for dinner, prepare a side of greens or a salad (spinach and lettuces are growing in those urban farms I mentioned) and bread.
Portobello Mushroom Sandwiches (serves 2)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 Portobello mushrooms-stems removed and cap wiped with a damp cloth
4 tablespoons ricotta cheese (or any other soft, spread able, mild cheese)
4-5 sun dried tomatoes, chopped finely
4-5 black or Kalamata olives
2 fresh buns or English muffins (whole grain preferred)
Heat a stovetop grill pan (you can do in a sauté pan but the grill is nice). Brush mushroom on both sides with oil and place on pan for about 5-7 minutes each side. Meanwhile, mix cheese, olives and sun dried tomatoes to make a spread. Toast buns and when center of mushroom is tender to the fork, remove and place on bun. Spread cheese mixture on one side of bun, assemble and enjoy! Also serve with a side of greens or salad.
Roasted Root Vegetables (serves 2-3)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion
1 sweet potato
1 parsnip (if large, remove woody center)
Rosemary and thyme (fresh use 2 tablespoons each, dried use 1 tablespoon each)
Salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 425.
Chop all vegetables into somewhat uniform pieces (1 inch or so). Use a combination of whatever vegetables you like or have on hand. Toss in a bowl with oil, herbs, salt and pepper. Spread in one layer on a baking sheet and bake in oven for one hour to one and a half hours or until all veggies are fork tender.
Serve as a main course with a side of sautéed Spring greens or a salad and some bread. Serve as a side for a piece of meat or tofu. Use as a filling for an omelet along with some soft goat cheese.
“Make some food.” Ok, that’s what I heard in my head. The Condiment Queen, a/k/a the Cookbook Addict, surely said it much nicer. The point, you may be happy with the bagels you bought for dinner but I need something healthier. There was lentils in the orders too. She was dropped off at her afternoon job. I had the kitchen. And a pantry. Get to work I was told.
I have never advocated extreme adherence to a locavore diet, or let me put it better, being a locavore does not mean needing to limit one’s food to a very small range of “food miles.” Why 100 miles? What about salt? Cooking without olive oil? Getting up without coffee. The reasons for eating local do not include deprivation or ridiculousness. More importantly, a well-stocked pantry is the solution to keeping a happy Local Family. She said ready, set, and I was gone an hour or so later with five dishes. Here’s two main dishes I concocted. I relied on a few helpers a long the way.
Helper number one, my daughter, Sophie. We agreed that I would take out Molly if she hunted down onions, found lentils in the basement storage room, and cleared the stove. Helper number two, my winter Tomato Mountain CSA box. I said the other day that I planned on saving the jarred tomatoes for the summer. I mis-spoke. For the lentils, it was an onion and a few carrots, sweated, a dried local pepper crushed between my fingers, a half-quart jar of black lentils, a quart of whole roasted tomatoes, and then about another quart of water. I took it to a boil and then turned to a simmer. When it got a bit crusty, I added more water. When presenting my results later, she said, “that’s not soup, that’s stew.” OK, it was lentil stew.
So, the lentils were not local, but the rest of the dish was. Here’s one where I took the opposite approach, with another helper. You will notice, good or bad, that I do not write recipes. I do that because I believe that a narrative recap may better teach, but mostly because I never use recipes. You should not either. Cooking should be simple, intuitive, fast and easy. That’s the easiest way to eat local. Have some good friends in your pantry. Some of my best friends are these cans of Thai curries. First, of all, if the labels are to be believed, and I think they are, they pass the Michael Pollan rule. Second of all, they all taste great. Third, shop around and you can usually find a can for less than a buck and one can covers a couple of dishes. Finally, well, they’ve done all the work.
Remember that cabbage? Here’s how I finally dealt with it. I trimmed off the layer now black, from waiting so long. I shredded the rest. Sliced an onion and more carrots (we have lotsa local carrots, a subject for another post soon). I got those started in a neutral oil. Then, I added 1/2 can of red curry paste. Cooked that a minute or so in the oil. Added the cabbage and some tofu. Dropped the fish sauce bottle over the pan about five times, the agave syrup bottle one time. Often, next, I’d pour in the can of coconut milk, but here I decided for a more “dry” or “jungle” curry flavor. So just water to cover. Cooked on medium heat until the cabbage was soft, about twenty minutes. Spicy.
We can all be local families with a bit of effort. Subscribe to a CSA. Go to winter markets. Put away food. Getting it on the table from there should be the easiest part. What’s in your pantry should help.
Way to go, partners in Beet!
Eat old local cheese (bring lotsa $$).
How local is your beer?
Eat local blue gills.
Eat local tofu.
And local grains.
Drink local booze (did you know Koval means “black sheep?).
A local she-devil.
As often noted, my wife works for Tomato Mountain Organic Farm. Over her several years of employment there, she’s handled several duties. You will mostly find her in markets selling frost-kissed winter spinach and all the other TM stuff, but she has gone into the kitchen too. When the Tomato Mountain farmers cooked up their idea of a four season CSA, they knew they need to cook up a few things to have ready to meet the eat local needs of their winter customers. That’s how Sheila found herself, one time, in Brooklyn (Wisconsin), roasting butternut squashes. Her and others turned that roasted squash into puree and then stuck that puree into two quart bags, where it could arrive on a very cold night in February. Yes, I have a few winter squash laying around myself, but could I have a squash dish done in less than a half-hour.
Do you know what took the longest time? Defrosting the bag of squash. With foresight, I could have let the nature do the work. No, I decided around three pm, to bake a squash dish. It took at least 15 minutes of defrost cycles to get the squash soft enough to mix in the other ingredients. From there, I pretty much winged it. Two eggs, a small glug of maple syrup, about two tablespoons of butter–a combination of Nordic Creamery red pepper and Nordic Creamery cinnamon–grated nutmeg and a bam of salt. I greased the baking dish with a bit of oil. Topped the mix with some leftover pecan. The oven was hot from roasting vegetable earlier. At 350, it took about twenty minutes. I finished it under the broiler. You can see from that picture above, where I took a taste. That work ahead of time by my wife and Tomato Mountain paid off.
At the height of the harvest season, you cannot finish all the produce stuffed into the Tomato Mountain* CSA box. The idea, with that bounty, is to put aside some for the dark, down months of the year. The locavore’s job is to constantly balance what’s around now with what should be around later, so make pickles some of those first ramps; pits and freezes the tart cherries for holiday pies; turns all that cabbage and peppers and leftover green tomatoes into relish, and cold stores plenty of beets, potatoes, onions and garlic to get by all year. The putting away does not stop come winter. Last week’s Tomato Mountain CSA box contained rutabagas, carrots, frost-kissed spinach, and frozen squash. I’ll be getting to those things soon, especially the spinach. The box also contained three quarts of whole roasted tomatoes. Thank you very much, but I’ll save those for later.
Whole roasted tomatoes are a great friend in the kitchen. Summer oozes from the jar as soon as its opened. I can make pasta sauce with the mere addition of sliced garlic or braise meats with pretty much no other additions. With just the idea of a good tomato months away, why not dig into my whole roasted tomatoes. Because whole roasted tomates go best with summer foods. We are most familiar with green beans braised in tomato sauce, but the same treatment works well with summer squash, greens, cabbage. Asparagus has a great affinity for tomatoes, you’ve probably seen recipes for tomatoes and asparagus. Then you wonder, what kind of place brings tomatoes and asparagus together at the same time. Surely not around here. Except with your jars of whole roasted tomatoes, you are ready to cook make it happen, the asparagus-tomato marriage you’ve only dreamt.
Tomato Mountain gives us plenty of their namesake tomatoes in their summer and fall CSA boxes. I live on variation of Turkish breakfast/Greek salad during that period. When they cannot put tomatoes in the box they put jarred tomatoes in their boxes. Winter brings whole roasted tomatoes in the CSA. They’re trying to treat us now. The illusion of summer in a snow-covered box. I am not fooled. I’m putting away these jars for later.
*Wife works for Tomato Mountain
Jim Slama and all the hard workers at FamilyFarmed hit a big milestone last year. And they saw no reason to let up. In a few weeks, the gang returns for three more days of workshops, demonstrations, tastingsmotivations, and more. As in past years, the Good Food Festival contains three distinct parts. day one called the Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference, focuses broadly on growing food related enterprises and specifically on connecting funders with food businesses that need financing. Day two serves multiple agendas, covering both food policy and food production. If that’s not enough for day two, there’s really a whole separate thing, think of it as day two-two, the Localicious party. Here many of our favorite restaurants, like Beet sponsor Vera and many of our favorite local boozers, will use your stomach to convince your head and heart the value of real food. Finally, day three brings the whole mess to the public, with many chances to learn, try and experience what we all mean by good food. We had the privilege of asking the founder of the Good Food Festival, Jim Slama, why he keeps going and what people really wanted out of the event.
Local Beet: Why 11? What keeps you going?
Jim Slama: Our 10 year anniversary show last year was incredibly successful – Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaking shows that Good Food is an economic engine for our city and that urban ag and job training initiatives are on the city’s radar as well. This fall we launched our Good Food Business Accelerator which is preparing Fellows to reach out to investors and funders at this year’s Financing & Innovation Conference. It is clear to us at FamilyFarmed that the demand for local, sustainable food is growing and the Good Food Festival & Conference is the region’s pivotal event that gets all the players in the same room to network, learn, eat and grow this movement.
FamilyFarmed has never thrown the same Good Food Festival twice. They’ve strived to improve, especially in the areas of providing hands-on training and making the information accessible. We wanted to know some tweaks for this year’s fest.
LB: What went well last year that you’re repeating?
JS: The last two years actually have shown the incredible power of the Good Food Commons. These are short micro workshops that give you solid DIY skills in everything from back yard chickens to canning and preserving to gardening and composting. We have four fantastic community partners who help us build out these sessions – Advocates for Urban Agriculture, Chicagoland Food Co-Op Coalition, Edible Alchemy, and Faith’s Farm. We’ve learned the hallway is too crowded for these sessions, so look for them in a better location this year with more sessions than ever.
LB: What are (some?) reasons for someone to go that they had not considered before?
JS: We have a really exciting chef event this year – Matthias Merges and Jason Hammel are part of a group of chefs who have formed Pilot Light which is a group of chefs who present food lessons in schools in a way that integrates across the curriculum. It is very successful and they’ll have students on hand Saturday as part of their lesson at Festival.
Parents should definitely feel welcome to bring their kids. Purple Asparagus sponsors the Kids’ Corner with great family-friendly activities and there are food samples throughout the show floor that kids love. Plus, there are baby chicks!
And if you’re confused about how to start a CSA share, the CSA Pavilion is loaded with farmers who can answer your questions – what better way to choose than to meet your farmer!
We also think people should see themselves as such an important part of the movement toward healthier more sustainably produced foods that they need to come be a part of the Festival. The movement is people who want to eat and grow foods in this way. If you want that, come contribute your interest and energy to the event. You should be there!
(Photo Kaitlyn McQuaid)
If you’ve been around Jim Slama enough, like us, you know he’s highly optimistic. We tend to share his enthusiasm when near, but when we fade into our eat local quarters, we sometimes get a little pessimistic. We were hoping for a pep talk.
LB: What’s the state of good food movement & why–be honest!!
JS: The National Restaurant Association shows most of their top 10 food trends for 2015 relate to local and sustainably produced food. Organic sales have had double-digit growth for the past 30 years. We launched the Good Food Business Accelerator and had incredible interest and a great list of applicants. These are all proof to us the Good Food movement is growing. And the strength of attendance at the Good Food Festival & Conference each year supports us in saying that as well. The movement is made of its people and the Festival is where we see them all together and recognize our strength. We hope you’ll join us!
Finally, Jim, gave us our biggest surprise
LB: What’s new this year & what motivated you to do it?
JS: For the past couple years we’ve heard from people that they’d like a beer with the lunch they buy in the Good Food Court on Saturday. We couldn’t agree more and certainly the local drink scene is on fire, so we have partnered this year with Farmhouse Chicago and Evanston who will be sponsoring our Craft Drink Corner. Now you can get a local beer or cider to go with your delicious lunch!
Who eats local in February? You do. Your sponsors at Vera do–go listen to Chef Mendez kvell over his 1871 milk. We’ve updated our list of winter markets for Valentine’s weekend. You’ll find plenty of places. A little work (get up early?), and there’s no reason you cannot fill your larder with more local food this weekend. And don’t forget, local food is not just the “fresh” stuff.
We believe you should be able to find the following local items by shopping at winter markets (see below) or at these places. In addition, look for local food where ever you shop. For instance, you may find FarmedHere items at your local supermarket. Likewise, there are still Michigan apples to be had.
In addition to the following markets, there are several stores in the Chicago area that focus on selling local foods.
Our friends Dennis and Emily Wettstein bring organic meat and eggs to the Buzz Cafe on Saturday February 14 from 12 PM to 23o PM – 905 S. Lombard
All sorts of food including sausages and tofu plus all you can Nosh await Sunday, February 15 from 10 AM to 3 PM at the Logan Square Farmer’s Market - 2755 N. Milwaukee Av
Good friends of the Beet continue with their 61st Winter Farmer’s Market at Experimental Station. Saturday February 14 from 9 AM to 2 PM - 6100 S. Blackstone
Faith in Place Winter Market at Augustana Lutheran Church of Hyde Park on Saturday, February 14 from 9 AM to 1 PM. - 5500 S. Woodlawn
A great little market happens in Pilsen on Sunday February 15 from 11 AM to 330 PM – 1213W. 18th (Honky Tonk BBQ)
Did you know that the Andersonville Farmer’s Market meets in the winter? Their next market is Sunday February 15 from 11 AM to 2 PM – 5211 N. Clark (Swedish Museum)
Weekly winter market at the Evanston Ecology Center on Saturday, February 14 from 9 AM to 1 PM, with a chance to catch the Condiment Queen selling - 2024 N McCormick Blvd
Community Winter Market on Saturday, February 14 from 9 AM to 1 PM - 327 Hamilton
If you know of any other farmer’s markets in the Chicago area, please let us know.
Don’t agree with a lot of the sentiments in this piece (like why have your brethren so actively campaigned against the good food movement?), but what they hey, the more the merrier.
Not so much having to do with local food, but something just as vital.
Speaking of vital and just as not local food, something else near and dear to us.
Be a better reader.
Eat less pesticides.
Eat more fat (sound).
Because do we need them (or any other way we’re “supposed to keep people from starving?)
Get your Cheesetopia tickets
I like fish and seafood. I like fish and seafood a lot. I also think we see it on too much of it on area menus. A couple of forces drive the abundance of fish and seafood on our menus. For many, many years, now, there has been a push to eat fish as a healthy alternative to meat. Moreover, various sea creatures played huge roles in trends over the years. I mean we all nearly netted the redfish out of existence when cajun food was the rage. Finally, I think fish and seafood are fun to play with for chefs. Something as basic as raw fish can be gussied up with fancy add-ons and great knife skills. Thus, Chicago has several restaurants that specialize in seafood and many key restaurants feature seafood strongly on their menus. Should they. Just look at the current posted menus at a couple of places. North Pond’s seasonal tasting menu features kampachi (crudo!) and scallops. Lula has octopus and cured salmon roe. Like I say, I want to eat this stuff. I love crudo. I love octopus. I love most seafood. Just keep it away from me. Serve me something local instead.
The acceptance of freshwater fish in local restaurants is greater now than when I started these rants. That aforementioned Lula also currently offers Rushing Waters trout on the menu. Blackbird has walleye for dinner and seared whitefish on their lunch menu (believe me, good). Of course, I so miss Mado and the way they treated fresh water smelts like anchovies. With these things on the menu, we get a sense a place. Food that truly is local. That tastes of its locale. Anyways, I’ll leave the rest of this argument for some other post.
How about smoked fish. I find it a bit amusing that one can go all over the USA and be fed our local cuisine. In LA, Wexler’s Deli has been posting amazing pictures of our fish on their Instagram account (#smokefisheveryday). In New York, people are clamoring for all the freshwater fishes at Russ & Daughter’s Cafe (man I clammor in my dreams!). Coast to coast, they’re eating our food. Shouldn’t local smoked fishes be a bit more our thing?
There is no doubt that smoked lake fishes are widely available in the Chicago area. For one thing, you have all these people who’ve immigrated in recent years from Eastern Europe, Poland and Russia. They come from lands where octopus and kampachi rarely graced menus. So, go to an outstanding Polish deli, like Kolatek not too far from me, and (near the weekends mostly) you can get delicious house-smoked trout and whitefish. Or go to a grocery catering to Russian newcomers, like Fresh Farms for other smoked fish options. Then there are the Jews. Any extant deli in the Chicago area carries various smoked fishes. Also, don’t forget, our friends at Jake’s Country Meats. They carry some pretty cool local smoked fish, including rare to find, locally caught lake salmon. You can have local smoked fish, but do you?
Is it food for alter kockers and those with short ancestry in the USA? We can have it too. Do we celebrate it. Relish it. Shove it in the face of TV food crews the way we do italian beef, hot dogs and Burt’s deep-dish? Like I say, I get the impression they like our lake fish better away than here. We need to make smoked fish one of the true, respected Chi-CAW-go things. And there is no better place to start than at New York Bagel and Bialy’s in Lincolnwood. It is not critical to have a bagel with one’s smoked fish. In fact, a good pumpernickel or even those rye cracker thing-ee’s work well with smoked fish. Still, a bagel tastes very good with a nice whitefish salad. I’ve always found the bagels at NYB&B to far exceed anything else in Chicagoland. Their lox (or nova), on the other hand, not so exceeding. Good thing I discovered recently what Michael Morowitz has known for 25 years, the whitefish salad at NYB&B is excellent. I will say that I did not grow up a whitefish salad aficionado. In our lox box, there would be lox and a chub, but never whitefish salad. It was only when I went to that third bastion of great lake fish, North Miami Beach, did I discover, at Bagel Bar, not far from where my wife grew up, the pleasures of whitefish salad. Problem, I rarely find whitefish salad as good as Bagel Bar (can’t get Bagel Bar whitefish salad anymore either but that’s another story too.) It can be way too mayo-heavy, or mucked up with crap like celery. Like a good crab cake, the less of anything else, the better the whitefish salad. If you start at NYB&B, you’ll know what I mean, and you’ll know what I mean about eating more local smoked fish.
Editor’s Note: I’m still in the thrall of another very good meal produced by Local Beet sponsor Vie Restaurant. My favorite dish was their beets two ways, a salad combing fresh (storage) beets and pickled (preserved beets)–see poor pic above. During our dinner, Chef Paul Virant poked his head out of the kitchen to say hi. I said to him that he must be a busy man with the three places and what not. He said, that’s not all, as he’s thinking of another book. ”We have so many great recipes using our preserved ingredients, we need another book,” was about what he said to me. Virant and Vie know that there’s nothing wrong with eating something out of a jar. As you go out looking for local food this weekend, don’t overlook all the great local food that was put away in its season, like those whole roasted tomatoes from our friends at Tomato Mountain. And if you need more convincing, it’s that time when of year to roll out this Beet classic.
Several years ago, when I was a lone-wolf eat local blogger, I urged people to resist the tyranny of the fresh. Fight the appeal of seemingly fresh food over preserved foods. We are still at a time of year when there is abundant fresh local foods. There are many cold weather crops around now. Still, it is time to start adjusting our eating habits. As we move to colder and colder times, we need to squelch our desires for “fresh” foods because so much of what we find masquerading as fresh is not the good foods we are buying now. What I wrote then, stands as key fighting points today. Don’t necessarily look for the fresh food. I knew one person who liked canned peas, my grandfather. He was, though, no culinary hero of mine. He went years on the same three meals: poached egg on toast for breakfast; (American) cheese sandwich on toast for lunch; and plain hamburger, baked potato and canned peas for dinner. His condiment, his sole condiment for all this food, salt. Pale mushy peas and their evil cousin pale mushy green beans are the foods that leap to most people’s mind when you say canned. Begin an Eat Local Challenge in any month, and a segment of foodies will declare, “well only if my farmer’s market was open” or “we are down to a few things in our market.” Even in California there are fallow periods (there are, aren’t there?). That’s because we are trained to expect fresh. How can we eat local if there is no fresh fruits and vegetables? The inventories of our stores convince us that we should have a fresh product. We have fallen victim to the tyranny of the fresh. People are scarred of canned. Andy Warhol may have famously painted soup cans, but where in the museum do you see a still life with canned peaches? Consumers want their supermarkets to sell fresh, a year round supply of fresh tomatoes, fresh berries, fresh heads of lettuce, and fresh bell peppers in assorted colors. This is supposed to be real food. Never mind the environmental impact of a grape hauled into town from Chile, a tomato that has to be gassed to look red, let’s just talk about flavor.
What do we get as fresh. Whole Foods labels told me in the winter, their pretty bell peppers, their vivid red tomatoes with tight green “vines”, came from Canadian food labs. What does that mean. It means hydroponic. It means all of the flavor, all of what a vegetable should taste like is gone. On the other hand, take something out of the freezer. Food scientist Harold McGee notes that food picked at its peaked, properly frozen, is of higher quality than food picked off-ripe to survive long shipping. Besides, the places that can supply you with off-season products are not the optimum places for the products. Is Florida really the area where blueberries prosper? Yet, the market demands blueberries in March, and farmer’s can coax something round and blue out of the ground in March down there. We get March blueberries. Because most of the supermarket inventory comes from California, we get the impression that the best vegetables grow in California. Yes, great vegetables grow in California. These great California vegetables, however, are rarely what you find in your supermarket. How many people realize that Green Giant is based in Minnesota, Birdseye started in Massachusetts. This is not to say that our food conglomerates do not harvest around the world, it’s just, I think, it points out that the stuff worth preserving, often does not come from California.
Extrapolate that back to fresh vs. frozen. Does this convince you that fresh is not always the best product? Going back in time, I can think of vividly delicious canned strawberries preserved in syrup served at Vie; I know of the frittatas enjoyed with frozen red peppers, and I marveled at candied preserved pear used to make local ice cream. Three different ways of putting things away, by can, by freeze, by drying/candying that tasted as good, if not better, than the equivalent of those products in the winter. The strawberries, well they had that real, that true strawberry flavor so unfamiliar to most eaters. The peppers tasted of sun, of summer. The pears made every cliché of “explodes with flavor” and “burst in your mouth” go through my head. Sure, there were textural issues. The strawberries were soft, seeds more noticeable; the peppers flaccid, the pear gummy, but why do we need all of our foods to have the dry, static texture of fresh. You could not dip canned strawberries in brown sugar or make a salad of the red peppers. So. Find dishes that match the food. Our friends at Vie certainly know how to make use of their preserved products.
If we remove ourselves from the tyranny of the fresh, we can eat local without the farmer’s market being open. We do not need to rely on someone else, on weather, on seasons. Obviously, one cannot march into this battle wily-nily. But this is not a “how-to” post. There’s plenty of time for that. Before taking the time, the effort, the capital to start preserving your food, you have to enlist. You have to become a conscript against the tyranny. Wallow in preserved foods. Realize you can eat a peach in February, just not a fresh peach. Maybe you will even develop a taste for canned peas.