Another Harvest of Eat Local Links (with Unfortunate Sad News)

Posted: August 20, 2014 at 11:52 am


Five ways to eat more sustainable.

The death of Rush Creek Reserve should act as the canary in the coal mine for all American raw milk artisan cheeses, because just as our great American artisan cheese movement is in serious full swing, the FDA has basically declared a war on raw milk cheese.  More here and here from MikeG.

Eat local flour.

Eating local not by choice.

My dream day: playing poker and eating at a restaurant called Locavore.

Another idea I can appreciate.

Eat local Utah!

Share with us some of the things you’re reading.

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Farmers Markets: Rules, Regulations and Reforms – Webinar on current and future farmers market regulations

Posted: August 20, 2014 at 9:16 am

From the Central Illinois Sustainable Farming Network (CISFN):

Farmers Markets: Rules, Regulations and Reforms – Webinar on current and future farmers market regulations

Two webinars, Monday, August 25: 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. and Thursday, August 28: 6:00 – 7:30 p.m., will provide an opportunity for farmers market vendors and farmers market managers to learn about new regulations and reforms that impact farmers markets and provide input to the Governor-appointed Illinois Farmers Market Task Force about future farmers market regulations. This year the Illinois General Assembly passed and Governor Quinn signed into law HB5657, Smarter Rules for Farmers Markets, that made a number of reforms to farmers market regulations in Illinois to support consistency, transparency and economic opportunity. This webinar will provide an overview of the reforms that HB5657 made and what farmers and market managers need to know about the new law. Additionally, the Illinois Farmers Market Task Force is currently reviewing all regulations for farmers markets in the state and will make recommendations for changes at the end of this year. Farmers, farmers market managers and others have an opportunity to provide input on farmers market regulations including the following topics: products sold at the farmers market, hand-washing stations, refrigeration, sampling and more.

Galesburg Farmers Market  Galesburg Register Mail

Galesburg Farmers Market
Galesburg Register Mail

Both webinars will have the same content and will be held twice to accommodate a larger audience. For those who are unable to attend the webinar, written comments can be submitted Illinois Stewardship Alliance at or 230 Broadway, Suite 200, Springfield, IL 62701. To register for the webinar, click here: or call the Sangamon Menard Extension office at (217) 782-4617.

The webinars are sponsored by Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Illinois Farmers Market Association and University of Illinois Extension. Questions? Call Illinois Stewardship Alliance at (217) 528-1563 or email

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Illinois Stewardship Alliance is celebrating its Annual Harvest Celebration!

Posted: August 20, 2014 at 9:02 am


The Illinois Stewardship Alliance will be celebrating its Annual Harvest Celebration on Sunday, September 14th in Springfield.  Six Central Illinois chefs will be preparing small plates featuring fresh, seasonal, local food. Each of the chefs represent restaurants that feature locally sourced products. Included in the lineup are:

  • Dustin Allen, Edge by Dustin Allen, Peoria
  • Aurora and Jordan Coffey, American Harvest Eatery, Springfield
  • Alisa DeMarco, Prairie Fruits Farm, Urbana
  • Michael Higgins, Maldaner’s Restaurant, Springfield
  • Ryan Lewis, Driftwood Cocktails and Eatery, Springfield
  • Josh Lanning, Harvest Cafe, Delavan

In addition to the food, there will be live music and a silent auction.  Obed and Isaac’s Microbrewery, Rolling Meadows Brewery, and several Illinois wineries will provide beer and wine for the event.

The Illinois Stewardship Alliance is also looking for sponsors. Companies or organizations that do sponsor the Harvest Celebration will have their logo featured prominently in all event signage and in the program for the evening. Sponsorship opportunities are available at varying prices.

All proceeds raised from the Annual Harvest Celebration will go to Illinois Stewardship Alliance to help them continue their work promoting and increasing access to fresh, local food; providing education on conservation practices; and advocating for policies that aid small, family farmers.

The Illinois Stewardship Alliance Annual Harvest Celebration  will be held Sunday, September 14th at 5:00 p.m. at the Inn at 835, located at 835 S. Second St. in Springfield.

Purchase tickets by September 9th. Prices are as follows:

$75 for members

$85 for non-members

To learn more click here.


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This Week’s Harvest of Eat Local Links is Today

Posted: August 13, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Local Beet contributor Emily Paster has two ways to get your kids a-cookin’.


We still think of these as local food.

Don’t let the pinkish rind scare you from trying this local cheese.

Happy anniversary Pastoral.

Linked without comment.

Start reading about local seafood.

Five good reasons to join a CSA.

Five ways to eat local beyond a farmer’s market.

Never know where you’ll find the love for our food.

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Tomatoes Make Everything Taste Better/Eat Local Tomatoes Now

Posted: August 12, 2014 at 1:34 pm

You Sell That, Now?

shame on eataly

I like Eataly, our new Italian mega-store in River North. They are especially strong in salumi and related cured meats. The bread is in the top five in a city going through a huge renaissance in quality bread (subject of a post hopefully soon), and their gelato is the best in a city that I wish was going through a better ice cream renaissance. And don’t get me started on the Italian candies. I’m wasting hundreds of dollars on this addiction. One thing I am not getting at Eataly is tomatoes. A few weeks ago, the best they could do was the lab grown “vine-ripened” offenders pictured.   On a more recent visit, they had other tomatoes, ones whose roots touched the earth, but believe you-me-both, they were not worth the time or the money.  I think I might create some kind of decal or pin to slap offenders who serve rotten tomatoes this time of year. For instance, take Boston Seafood in Des Plaines, you may be my favorite restaurant of the moment, you fry up so well, your mess of lake fish, but how, my friends, can you offer a “village” salad with those tomatoes? Cannot we all find good tomatoes right now?

Surely eating a bursting, sweet-tart, seasonal tomato is its own pleasure, but the beauty of tomatoes, their real impact, the reason I love eating this time of year, the reason I would never dare get a tomato with a sticker on it is that tomatoes make everything taste better.

onion roll lox

Do you know how much better lox tastes when it’s hand sliced? Do you know what lox is? What’s above is sold as lox but it’s not. It’s smoked salmon. A/k/a Nova. Or Novy if you’re Morey Amsterdam. No one knows anymore from lox, the cured stuff. The stuff that’s so salty you need to eat it with cream cheese to cut the saline intensity. We all get smoked salmon. But I’m digressing. You know what makes a lox and bagel sandwich better, even when it’s not lox but smoked salmon, a good, in season tomato. Not just salmon. A schmear of whitefish salad, a chunk of sable, trout, they all taste better with tomato.


How many fressers know what lox is and know what a frezzelle is? You have to live in a place like I do, near the Parks, Melrose and Elmwood. Who else eats frezzelle. It’s like an Italian bagel, no–that’s kinda what they look like. You still use tomatoes. To make your own frezzelle you need two things. First, access to a grocery that carries these frezzelles. Second, you have to know that they need the briefest splash of water to become usable. Not too much or they become soggy. Not too little unless you’re teething. The highest purpose of a frezzelle is to soak up the juices of your best summer fruit.  It’s also an example of the marriage between tomatoes and cheese.  Blue cheese and tomatoes, a classic.  Stick a tomato between slices of grilled cheese, classic too.   Need another idea.  Try spreading fresh sheep milk’s cheese on your tomatoes.  Thank me after you’ve found the fresh sheep’s milk (hint, try a Polish grocery).

An August Turkish breakfastaugust veg plate

greek salad

Is there any bit of summer bounty better served for putting away than tomatoes? As I recycled this week on the Beet, there are many ways to put away tomatoes and many ways to use your put away tomatoes. Still, don’t you just want to eat ‘em now. Make yourself a Greek salad, a Turkish breakfast, or just add them to whatever else is on your mind. It will make everything taste better. As long as it’s a real tomato.

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The Many Ways to Put Away Tomatoes

Posted: August 11, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Eat Local Tomatoes Later

caputo - tomatoes - august 2013

When I tell people I’m a locavore now, it hardly gets a response.  When I tell them I’m eating local six months from now, I’m asked how.  I say it can be done with a combination of put-up food, winter markets and a timely CSA delivery.  We do not have to think about winter markets for a good time.  We should be thinking about putting away food now. We’ll soon re-post our popular guide to Making the Most of the Seasonal Bounty to assist you in your preservation efforts.   Still, we know you need to get moving putting away probably the most common, and almost for sure the best food of summer.  We’re talking tomatoes.   With a little effort now, you can have the taste of summer all year.

We believe there is no one way for tomatoes.  Tomatoes take to many ways, and the way you choose to preserve your tomatoes depends on your time and your resources.  You can also preserve tomatoes many ways.  We describe below the many ways to put up tomatoes.

There’s something primal, classic about putting up tomatoes.  Every time I think of putting up tomatoes I am drawn to the image of David “Hat” Hammond, swigging red wine from the jug, making sauce: Sinatra on the turntable, striped down to his strap shoulder t-shirt and boxer shorts, black socks (with garters) showing, black wingtips of course, crucifix proudly against the chest hair, yet still wearing his trade mark black hat–a true story, now apparently washed away from the archives of Chowhound.  Making buckets of sauce for storage is cool, very cool.  Without such panache, it can also be a well-remembered family activity.  Turning a bushel or two into several jars of red certainly leaves a well-deserved sense of accomplishment.

There’s also many good reasons for putting away your tomatoes.  I can think of four.  Foremost, as displayed below, tomatoes take to many forms of preservation; you can find one that works for your needs and situation.  Second and related, tomatoes do not lose much in the process.  Sure, you cannot replace that sensation of a sensational seasonal fruit, but this is no canned pea.  So, the third reason, preserved tomatoes fit nicely into your kitchen.  You will use what you put away.  From the simple pasta sauces to classic French sauces, tomato products are your kitchen friend.  In fact, I’ve come to believe that the best time for canned tomatoes is in the summer, where they partner so well to slow cooked zucchini or a mess of green beans. Finally, at this time of year, we find ourselves, hopefully, in a surplus of tomatoes.  If you grow your own, you cannot eat them all.  If you have a friend that grows her own, she cannot eat them all and has given some to you.  If you have neither, you still find tomato deals. Fly me to the moon, do-b-do-b-doo and get a-workin’ with or with out the socks and garters.

The many ways to put away tomatoes include

  • Canning
  • Freezing
  • Drying
  • Cold storage/root cellaring
  • Fermentation


When people think putting away tomatoes, they tend to think first of canning.  There are those who will tell you that canning best captures the essence of tomatoes.  We’re not willing to make that unqualified assessment, but we know we have canned tomatoes with great success.  We’ve also had success getting a real tomato expert, Damien Casten, to write about canning tomatoes in the past for the Local Beet.

When we use the term canning, we mean putting a tomato product in glass jars, sealed with a metal lid and stored for later use in a non-refrigerated environment.  When we use the term canning we also mean a two step process that makes food safe for long term keeping and keeps food safe during that long term keeping.   The heat of the water kills bacteria, yeasts, molds and fungus that would harm food as well as deactivate enzymes that can cause food to deteriorate.  Then, the heat and the design of the can form a vacuum seal that prevents any new bad stuff from entering.  The action of letting the can and lid do its thing is called “processing.”

Many foods are canned with boiling water alone (“hot water canner”).  Hot water canning can be done when there is enough acid present, in the food, the syrup or the brine to inhibit the growth of micro-organisms.  Without this acid, water must be heated to higher temperatures to keep things safe.  Boiling water under pressure (“pressure canning”) creates water that boils hotter than 212 degrees, and this hotter temperature is necessary when there is no acid around to help.  Most tomato recipes can be canned using a hot water canner.  Some salsas, for instance because they includes low acid vegetables need to be canned with a pressure canner.  Still, the USDA states, “Use of a pressure canner will result in higher quality and more nutritious canned tomato products.”  Follow directions.  If you do not have a pressure canner, you cannot pressure can.  Period.  In these situations, you usually need to add some form of acid, like lemon juice, when non-pressure canning.

Canning can seem seem scary.  There is no safety of a refrigerator, and sometimes no good way of knowing if the process worked.  Thing is, just give in.  Canning is about mindlessly following directions.  In fact, with canning you have to follow directions.  You cannot “wing it” when it comes to canning.  Recipes matter.  Processing times matter.  The Ball Jar people is the best place to start for canning recipes.  The USDA’s Center for Home Food Preservation is the other place to go.

Canning often requires a good amount of time.  It also requires the investment in equipment including a canning pot (“canner”), jars and lids as well as funnel, lifters and other paraphernalia.  Canning is an excellent option for people without access to big freezers such as people living in apartments.

And there’s more!  Not only can canning get your summer tomatoes put away very well, it can allow you to do all sorts of interesting things with your tomatoes for later use.  For instance, Melissa Graham has posted on making a tomato marmalade.   Our friends (and sponsor) Tomato Mountain use their supply of summer tomatoes as base for most of their salsas, but the product that always stops market samplers in their tracks is their sungold tomato jam.


Like canning, freezing keeps food safe two ways.  The action of freezing food, making it frozen, makes food last.  Reducing food to zero degrees, or colder, does not kill bacteria, molds, etc., but it stops the growth of such organisms.  Then, the freezer keeps those little guys from getting going again by keeping the food frozen.  Once food thaws, it is able to spoil again.

Freezing is said to dull certain flavors and make other flavors, including garlic and some herbs, bitter or harsh.  Think about this with your tomato recipes.  As noted above, there are plenty of people that think canned tomatoes taste better.   Where the freezer comes in especially handy is for items that you can’t or don’t want to can.  Remember those warnings about pressure canning?  If you want to put away green beans in a thick tomato sauce or caponata cooked with local tomato paste, you would probably need to pressure can, if canning.  So, use your freezer.

Freezing, obviously, requires freezer capacity.  The use of vacuum sealers and related products can make freezing easier and provide for fresher products, but such equipment is not necessary.



Micro-organisms need water to thrive.  Reduce water in food and you reduce the chance microorganisms will thrive and spoil your food.  Drying reduces that water.  Drying can be done in a dehydrator, an oven or in the open (depending on where you live and what you are drying).  Drying will only get you so far in food preservation; rather dried food will only last so long unless other actions are not also taken.  Dried tomatoes are often kept in oil to extend their life–the oil acts as a barrier for many microorganisms.  Dried tomatoes can also be kept in the freezer.  Wendy had great success oven drying tomatoes.

Even if you plan on putting the dried tomatoes in your freezer, the act of drying greatly reduces the space the tomatoes take in your world.

Speaking of your world, remember when there was no such thing as sun-dried tomatoes?  Methinks it was some time in the early 1980′s when Nouvelle Cuisine had us putting the sauce underneath the meat and splaying green and pink peppercorns across our plates that “sun-dried tomatoes” became a hot food item.  They were nearly always used as a condiment or accent, something akin to a roasted pepper; for instance as a garnish on sub sandwiches.  You can use your dried tomatoes this way, but you can also use them the way they were intended, re-hydrated, as an actual tomato in dishes.

Cold Storage/Root Cellaring

In general, the easiest way to store and preserve produce is to just put them in some place where they won’t rot.  A “root cellar” works because it is cold enough to slow down mold and other bad items and moist enough to keep food palatable.  You do not need an actual cellar, you just need a space that reproduces those two conditions, nor do you just need to use it solely for roots.  The two most common items for cold storage are probably not roots but a fruit (apples) and a tuber (potatoes).  Did you know that you can also store tomatoes for future use?  This can be done by letting unripe fruits slowly come to color inside, and it can happen by procuring special “keeper” tomatoes that are meant to last for extended periods.

There are two facets involved in cellaring tomatoes.  Most important, you cannot expect a tomato too green to ever ripen.  Only tomatoes that have nudged their way forward will continue in your house or apartment.  Second, you may want to consider the varieties of tomatoes bred for storage.

For the tomatoes that never turn red, we have a few recipes here and here.


Fermenting creates lasting food by replacing harmful bacteria with good bacteria.  Good bacteria is allowed to grow in foods through the application of salt, sugar or other “starters”.   Before the invention canning, fermentation was the primary way to extend the life of fruits and vegetables. 

Green tomatoes are commonly fermented “deli style”, but red tomatoes can be fermented too.  In Russia and other Eastern European countries, it is common to ferment cherry tomatoes. Here’s a couple of other ideas for fermented tomatoes.

From sweet jam to sour pickles, you can see there’s much you can do with your local tomatoes.  As we’ve shown, there’s no one way or best way to put away tomatoes.  Rather, you decide what you want to do, or least what you are able to do.  It may be nothing more than an excuse to get Sinatra on the speakers, but there’s a lot more to putting away tomatoes that making the season last.


Morton Grove Farmers’ Market 2014

Posted: August 10, 2014 at 8:12 pm

I haven’t written about the Morton Grove Farmers’ Market on The Local Beet for a while now. Running it has kept me too busy to write about it. But as I go back to read older posts about the Market I’m struck by how often we realized that our crowds were thinner than they should have been. And the difference between today’s situation and how it was several years ago is dramatic enough to justify a whole post about it.

Since we began in 2009, the Market has lost all but one (me) of our founding mothers and fathers (although some still come to shop regularly) and we’ve got a marketing coordinator, designated vendor coordinator, bookkeeper and volunteer coordinator. We’ve focused more on signage and our location on busy Dempster St. has resulted in an influx of first-time shoppers, out-of-towners and other unexpected patrons each Saturday.

In the olden days, we used to see the same few dozen regulars show up Saturday after Saturday. Some days, between the thrill of opening month in June and the threat of closing in October, not much more than the regulars would appear. We hosted festivals, recruited more entertainers, invited community groups and partnered with sponsors, but we put in a lot of effort for relatively little payoff.

In 2014, the combination of thoughtful signage and street visibility has helped give us visibility both in Morton Grove and neighboring communities. Each Market day, I greet visitors who had never heard of us before but passed by on their way to work or to the highway. They saw a sign or the tents and stopped by to investigate.

We’ve sent out direct mail to every household in the village and passed out coupons at festivals and parades. This has helped somewhat, but I sense that many people just stay home Saturday morning out of habit or inertia. On the other hand, someone who is already out in their car may be more inclined to make an extra stop compared to someone who must still get dressed and start the car.

We’ve increased our email blasts and social media presence as well, which has helped solidify our existing fan base and make them aware of what’s will be in season and who will be performing. Whenever a vendor drops out or has car problems, patrons inevitably ask where they are. Few absent vendors go unnoticed.

We’ve taken on several new, excellent volunteers who are both a pleasure to work with and very talented at what they do. Setup and takedown, which used to be physically difficult and tedious chores, fly by in less time and with less hassle than ever before.

Both the Park District and village have been wonderfully cooperative in helping us overcome minor obstacles and ensure the safety of our vendors, sponsors, volunteers, and shoppers in what is essentially an unused parking lot. In return, I like to think that we bring a certain level of prestige and pride to the village and subtly enhance the lives of all our residents.

I may be making too much of this, but I think we have earned a reputation as being one of the friendliest and most innovative farmers’ markets in the area. To top that off, our daily visitor rate has grown steadily. As a result, we regularly turn down vendors and entertainers vying for a chance to be at our Market because we can only handle so much. And we still put in the effort to visit each farm at the start of each season to verify that they have begun growing what they say they will sell later in the summer and fall.

On the days when I was the designated Manager on Duty (and even when I wasn’t), I could tell when vendors were having a good sales day when they lacked time to chat with me. If we had long conversations, it was because they had no customers. Happy as I am to chat with them, I’m happier that I often only get a chance to talk to some vendors during setup and shut down or when reimbursing them for the coupons, gift certificates and EBT tokens (newfangled food stamps) that they accept from our customers. And when I’m managing the Market, I rarely hang out at the Welcome Booth. I typically pace the Market, keeping an eye on things and helping answer anybody’s questions.

Through a generous donation from Northshore University Healthsystems, we can double the value of a LINK card transaction (up to $25), which has attracted many customers who might otherwise not have purchased local, fresh produce. The end result is thousands of dollars in additional sales that we believe would not have materialized without the grant and without the state subsidy.

So far, we’ve had only one rain date (when the Lieutenant Governor came to visit and play banjo, of all days!), and even then, enough people shopped to give a few vendors decent sales.

My favorite pasttime at the Market is talking with patrons (my least favorite is ejecting people who come with their dogs). I ask if it’s their first visit, how they heard about us, where they’re from and other nosy, personal questions (you don’t get THAT at a chain grocery store, do you?). With few exceptions, they share information with me, compare us with other markets they’ve attended, talk about what they might do with the produce they bought, offer ideas and suggestions, and thank me for my interest. I direct them to the Welcome Booth where they can enter a free raffle to win a basket of Market goodies or borrow a wagon to cart their kids around. I’ve met people who were jogging along the nearby bike trail and detoured just to see what was going on. I’ve met a number of young couples who had just moved to Morton Grove. I’ve talked with lifelong residents who’ve lived across the street from the Market for years but only just decided to visit for the first time. I’ve never met anyone so grouchy or bitter that I couldn’t disarm them by listening respectfully to their viewpoint or offering solutions. As a man who has spent his whole career in office jobs, seldom dealing with customer service issues, I’ve surprised myself at my ability to remain calm, professional, and deferential to people I disagree with.

I’ve gotten to know solo musicians and small bands as I’ve booked them to play the Market. We’ve chatted about their other gigs. I’ve helped them set up and carry their equipment. I have bought them coffee and listened to their wonderful performances and watched them work the crowd and liven up the Market with their music. I’ve also had to ask them to turn down the volume, which is slightly less appalling to me than banishing dogs, but still has to be done sometimes.

All in all, planning and running the Market these past five years has consumed an enormous amount of my free time. There are Saturdays when I would rather sleep in than carry tables and tents across a parking lot. But I do it almost every week and my co-managers help me when they’re not the Manager on Duty, which makes it easier on all of us. And even when I’m not technically in charge, I’m happy to spend the morning schmoozing with the other volunteers, asking vendors how their week went, listening to the free music, talking with customers about their meal plans for the week, and contributing–in my own small way–to helping build a stronger supply channel for local entrepreneurs, farmers and craftspeople to bring their products directly to the consumers who enjoy them. I can always sleep late on Sunday.

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A Week and a Day Since We Harvested Our Eat Local Links

Posted: August 5, 2014 at 9:31 am


Help local farner’s

Drink local bitter booze.

Jeannie wants you to read this.

Anxious to try farm to hearth cooking.

For now, local squash blossom quesadillas.

Like you need it, but 10 reasons to support farmer’s markets.

I know a tomato farmer who prefers hybrids to heirlooms.   Here’s a little background.

How’d our local cheese fare in this year’s American Cheese Society awards?  Not tops.  Not top 3, but pretty darn impressive none-the-less.

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A 2014 Embarrassment of Local, Organic Riches

Posted: August 1, 2014 at 9:13 pm

It’s been a unique “summer” weather-wise. The abundant rain and bursts of heat followed by polar vortexy coolness have confused my plants to produce the most prolific garden I have ever planted. Although the lettuce plants have bolted, I am still giving away large plastic bags filled with lettuce on a weekly basis to whoever is willing to take them. Normally by the beginning of July, the Chicago sun and heat would have caused any lettuce in full sun to turn tall and bitter as it produces flowers and seeds. This year has been an exception. In fact, on the first day of August, we were getting fresh asparagus coming out of the soil!

More dill weed than we know what to do with

More dill weed than we know what to do with

On top of that, the peapods, which are normally a spring crop, are still coming back as fast as I can pick them. A neighbor at work is happy to share a half-pound bag a day with me. Sweet and crunchy as the peapods are, I’m happy to have someone else help me get rid of them.

One of many peapods that just wont stop growing
One of many peapods that just wont stop growing

In the space of a week, we’ve enjoyed several dozen plump cucumbers. Due to laziness and poor planning, many more cucumber vines survived than I have room for. The resulting jungle canopy has shaded the eggplant and peppers that, at first, seemed like they might be able to hold their own. Instead, the peppers are scrawny little things and the eggplant is nowhere to be found.

15 minutes' worth of harvest effort on top of the rain barrel

15 minutes’ worth of harvest effort on top of the rain barrel

The pole beans that share the raised bed with the cucumbers, however, have grown out of control. We have harvested hundreds and given away most of them. In my house, only my wife and I are interested in eating them. And the dog. Tesla loves them and will perform all sorts of tricks to get a piece. Lately we’ve been working on frisbee catching.

Can I come over the fence, please? I promise not to eat anything.

Can I come over the fence, please? I promise not to eat anything.

 Some of the beans have grown to be a foot long. They are so well hidden by the canopy, that some manage to evade several harvests in a row and continue growing.

Somewhere among these cucumber vines are pole beans and pepper plants

Somewhere among these cucumber vines are pole beans and pepper plants

The wildflower garden, which I planted to attract bees, has been largely devoid of bees most of the summer. Only in the past week or two have the bees started showing up, and I am happy to say that a variety of the social insects are browsing the petals of my garden. Mostly bumblebees and sweat bees, though. I don’t see a whole lot of the traditional honeybee in these parts.

Sunflowers agains the Morton Grove sky

Sunflowers agains the Morton Grove sky

Also, the wasps that last year saved my Brussels sprouts from devastation by moths and caterpillars have not been around lately. Combined with excessive water, these brassicas are not growing as tall and strong as they have in previous years. And the edible buds that grow just above where the leaves emanate from the stem have largely rotted and turned black. I don’t know whether these plants can be saved.

In sum, we’re producing enough volume of vegetables that we could easily eat every meal from the garden this summer and keep us going through the early fall. Thing is, we don’t want to. On several occasions, we’ve had friends over and sent them into the garden to fill plastic bags with whatever they like.

Ringo rests in his submarine beneath a lawn of wheatgrass

Ringo rests in his submarine beneath a lawn of wheatgrass

In fact, the wheat grass growing on top of Ringo’s aquaponic fish tank has been growing back steadily like Rapunzel’s hair. A co-worker has a masticating juicer and has been accepting small plastic bags of grass and enjoying them at home. Ringo, for his part, happily spends all day (except feeding time) hiding in his ceramic yellow submarine and artificial plants. I don’t know whether he’s happier than he was with a bare tank, but I hardly see him, so it doesn’t bother me.

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Epic Labor Day Feast Heritage BBQ Presented By Goose Island Cochon 555

Posted: August 1, 2014 at 3:03 pm


How can you not like an event when they thank sponsors with this phrase”We thank sponsors for paving the way to a better food system“. Cochon 555 now has a summer version called Heritage BBQ. The official press release is below. The summer version is just as creative in the drink category, Bourbon Bar, Mezcal Bar and the Goose Nest(read below to find out what this is) and brings together highly talented chefs and a pop-up butcher shop with Rob Levitt of Butcher and the Larder to benefit Kendall College. The Cochon crew know how to throw a really fun event with heart and sentiment focused on heritage pigs and  local farmers. What is not to love about this event!



NEW YORK (Jul. 31, 2014) – Heritage BBQ presented by Goose Island Beer Co. is kicking off a flavor-packed, star-studded five city global BBQ tour in Chicago on August 30th over the Labor Day weekend. The local-food focused BBQ tour started by Brady Lowe, Founder of Cochon 555, invites five notable chefs to put their love of globally-influenced whole pig BBQ to the test in a friendly but fierce competition to promote the consumption of heritage breed pigs raised by local family farms.

This year’s competing chefs include Chrissy Camba of Laughing Bird, Carlos Gaytan of Mexique, Abraham Conlon of Fat Rice, Cary Taylor of Big Star and Nathan Sears of The Radler and D.A.S.. Each chef will be given a 200 pound heritage breed pig to create six dishes for a crowd of pork-loving enthusiasts. A panel of 20 respected judges will vote for Chicago’s “BBQ King or Queen.” The BBQ will take place at Goose Island’s new Barrel Warehouse – a facility dedicated to the art of aging beers in wine and bourbon barrels.

Additionally this year, Heritage BBQ will debut “BBQ TRADITIONS,” a series of pop-up pairings where notable chefs will serve one dish that best exemplifies a culinary tradition and BBQ culture from anywhere in the world. Guests will have the chance to pair spectacular wines, brews, and spirits with globally inspired BBQ dishes such as Braai from Africa, Char Siu from China, Churrasco from Brazil and Barbacoa from Mexico. Heritage BBQ is an edible education on the finest social tradition in human history. Together with local food producers, craft brewers, winemakers and prestigious distillers, the Heritage BBQ tour motivates grilling communities worldwide to support local food producers, and to break ground on a new hyper-local, globally-themed BBQ while celebrating National Bourbon Month.

Guest interested in an ULTRA-VIP experience can purchase access into the Pilot Light Lounge, hosted by Paul Kahan (avec, Blackbird, Nico Osteria, Publican), Matthias Merges (Yusho, A10 Hyde Park, Billy Sunday) and Jason Hammel (Lula Cafe, Nightwood). Tickets are limited to 30 people and cost $300. They include specially prepared bites, chef-prepared cocktails, and best of all, 100% of the proceeds benefit Pilot Lounge, a Chicago-based non-profit that provides children with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to develop a healthy relationship with food.

The 500 person event features over 1,400+ pounds of heritage pig in an all-inclusive tasting. In addition to the 35+ chef-prepared global BBQ dishes, guests will also experience:

•       The Goose Nest, an area featuring the Bourbon County Brand Stout, and Vintage Ales from  Goose Island Beer Co.

•       Pop-Up Butcher Shop with Rob Levitt of The Butcher & Larder, benefiting Kendall College and Le Cordon Bleu with the support of Williams-Sonoma

•       Special “Summer Citrus” cocktail from Four Roses Bourbon

•       “Perfect Manhattan” Bourbon Bar to celebrate National Bourbon Month, featuring Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace, Breckenridge Bourbon, Templeton Rye, Four Roses and Luxardo

           TarTare Bar featuring Creekstone Farms,  an artisan cheese bar with Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine featuring Rogue Creamery, andKenny’s Farmhouse Cheese

•       Portfolio tasting of Crispin Ciders, amazing wines, and a Mezcal Bar featuring Fidencio and Mezcales de Leyenda

•       Pre-awards “Ice Cream Social” with James Beard Award Winner, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

“This is the new Q that celebrates hundreds of grilling – and smoking -traditions from around the world. We are on a mission to redefine BBQ as social eating, the act of gathering around fire, making friends and eating responsibly-raised animals. Together we work around the clock to preserve timeless family traditions from all over the globe. The bottom line is to host an event that develops the conversation of local food and heritage pigs, thus creating long-term growth, jobs on farms and better food choices for the future,” explains Brady Lowe, founder of Cochon 555. “We are passionate about promoting food sources that support a more natural, sustainable food system, and for the first time we are excited to announce Goose Island Beer Co. as a presenting sponsor of the Heritage BBQ series.”

Tickets for general admission start at $125, and VIP tickets for early admission are $200. VIP includes 60-minute early access to all the food (special, limited dishes) and a chance to mingle with chefs, judges and media. Both ticket prices are all-inclusive of food and beverage.

To purchase tickets, visit the website

Where:              Goose Island Barrel Warehouse 603 N. Sacramento Blvd.

When:               Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014     4 p.m. – 8 p.m.


Pilot Light is a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that works with chefs and teachers to build classroom lessons that weave food and nutrition education into everyday subjects like science, English, and social studies, and then equips teachers to deliver them in their own classrooms.  Founded in 2010 by chefs Jason Hammel, Paul Kahan, Matthias Merges and Ryan Poli, Pilot Light’s mission is to provide children with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to develop a healthy relationship with food. In the 2014-2015 school year, Pilot Light will be working with six schools in low-income communities throughout Chicago, reaching over 1100 students with its engaging and motivating lessons that help teachers meet academic performance standards and reach their students with critical food and nutrition education at the same time. For more information, visit


Founded in Chicago in 1988, Goose Island is one of the most successful craft breweries in the Midwest and produces some of the most popular, and award winning, beers in the U.S. Since 1989, Goose Island beers have won a variety of awards at acclaimed beer events including the World Beer Championships, World Beer Cup, World Expo of Beer and the Great American Beer Festival (GABF).

Started in 2012 in an effort to bridge the gap between family farms and all categories of BBQ restaurants, Heritage BBQ by Cochon 555, is the first national BBQ competition dedicated to supporting a new direction for heritage breed pigs by expanding the conversation to a global economy. Created by Cochon 555 Founder Brady Lowe, Heritage BBQ engages existing BBQ restaurants in the local and sustainable food conversation taking place nationwide while simultaneously breaking ground on a new hyper-local, globally-themed, farm-supporting BBQ.
Cochon 555 was created in 2009 by Taste Network’s Brady Lowe in response to the lack of consumer education around heritage breeds. The festival is a national event series that takes place in 16 major markets. In addition to its flagship event, Cochon 555, the Cochon brand now offers a variety of experiences each year in the family of events. The events with national followings include Heritage BBQ, Heritage Fire, EPIC Cochon, All-Star Cochon and Cochon Island. Since its launch in 2009, the tour now serves over 10,000 guests annually and works with over 1,500 pioneers all supporting a better food system. Known for creating an impact on local agriculture by amplifying the conversation of heritage breed pigs through consumption, events include notable sommeliers, restaurateurs, chefs, media, consumers and independent business owners looking to champion a premium, responsible lifestyle. For more details about the events, visit or follow @cochon555 on Twitter.



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Another Harvest of Eat Local Links

Posted: July 28, 2014 at 11:38 am

This is local wine.

After the Good Food Festival appearances, the Sky Full of Bacon video, and the general interest in “good meat”, not expecting this.  More here.

Everything, always, all the time at Civil Eats.

Think it matters if you know your farmer?

Who needs kale?

We love the Eli’s Farmer’s Market.

Eat local Maryland.

Eat local Western Massachusetts.

Let us know what else you’re reading now.


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The Local Calendar 7/23/14 Angelic Organics Harvest Dinner, TOTN Chicago 8/13, Spence Farm

Posted: July 23, 2014 at 9:07 am


Providing summer meals in neighborhoods where children do not have access to good food is one of the many ways Share Our Strength fights hunger in Chicago. One way to reduce violence in Chicago communities is by providing good food to children in these stressed neighborhoods so they feel a sense of community and full stomachs are a way to do that. You can make a difference by attending the Taste of the Nation event at Navy Pier on Wednesday August 13th. Many of the chefs and mixologists that support the local food community will be there, in force! The best way to fight the “G” word is with the other “G” phrase, “good food”.

For those of us who have access to the farmers markets, their tables are full of produce, from Nichol’s Farms endless rows of root vegetables: taproots, bulbs and tubers to Growing Power’s beautifully displayed baskets of greens and edible flowers.  Eggplant, peaches, corn have appeared on the tables. If you ever need an idea of how to cook with what’s available locally, the Green City Market cookbook is the answer. The cookbook is organized in a very approachable manner by season and the recipes highlight the ingredients available that time of year and not necessarily the cooking techniques, so it is a cookbook for everyone.

Farm dinnersAngelic Organics Learning Center Peak Harvest Dinner is this Saturday, Slagel Family Farm’s schedule  (next available dinner 8/9 Found Kitchen and Rootstock),  Prairie Fruit Farms & Creamery schedule(-12/4), Mint Creek,  and Spence Farm Harvest dinner tickets just went on sale.

Need info - Organizations in Chicagoland providing resources, classes and advocacy on local food: Illinois Stewardship AllianceAdvocates for Urban AgricultureThe Plant ChicagoAngelics Organics Learning CenterWeFarmAmericaThe Peterson Garden Project and The Talking Farm.

Here is a list of the city of Chicago markets! Sign up to become an owner of Chicago’s newest Co-op here, the Chicago Market.  Now on to the busy weeks ahead:

                                                                 The Week’s Local Calendar

July 23

Champaign - Prairie Fruit Farms & Creamery Open House 3-6:30pm

FM – Chicago (Lincoln Park) - Green City Market - 7am – 1pm Carrot Festival Chef demonstration Chef Patrick Sheerin The Trencherman For anyone who has the time, visiting the market on a Wednesday is a luxury!!!!!!

July 24

Chicago(Uptown) - AUA Movie and Mingle Night Weiss Memorial Hospital - 7:30pm – 11:30pm  Join them for July’s Movie & Mingle Night, featuring the film Tierralismo, a stirring defense of the importance of farm work and sustainable agriculture practices in Cuba.

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

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

July 26

Chicago(Caledonia) - 7th Annual Angelic Organics Peak Harvest Dinner - 5pm – 9pm Presented by premier Chicago chefs, including Chef Paul Virant. You’ll enjoy a five-course gourmet meal made with seasonal produce fresh from the farm and other sustainable, local ingredients. All proceeds from the Farm Dinner support their educational programs that build the local food system.

Chicago – Feastival Fundraiser Edible Alchemy – 2pm – dawn Eco-Collective 2042 W. 21st

FM – Chicago (Lincoln Park) -  Green City Market 7am – 1pm Right across from the Hotel Lincoln Chef demonstration Mickey Kearns All Natural Chicago

Chicago - Bike To Brew Organized and Sponsored by the Active Transportation Alliance 3-10pm

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

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

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

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

FM - Glenview - Glenview Farmers Market(Through 10/11) – Wagner Farm 1510 Wagner Road 8am – Noon Expanded with more vendors!

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

Oak Park - 3rd Annual Edible Garden Tour - 10am – 3pm Sponsored and organized by The Sugar Beet Co-op

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

FM – Sugar Grove - Sugar Grove Farmers Market - (through 9/27) 8:00 a.m. to noon Village of Sugar Grove Municipal Building Parking Lot, 10 Municipal Drive

July 27

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

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

July 28

FM – Lyons - Lyons Community Market - 2-7pm Veteran’s Park Ogden Ave & Lawndale Ave. (every Monday through Sept. 29)

July 29

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

Chicago -Publican Quality Meats Guest Chef Burger Night - 6-9pm


July 30-31

New!!! Chicago(Edgewater) - 70′s Supper The Stew Supper Club – 7-10pm Sauce and Bread Kitchen - Fadist maybe?, delicious maybe?, it’s all a little hazy. They hope to settle these questions once and for all. They will revisit this often forgotten era of tupperware induced cuisine head on (moussaka and hambrosia included).  Don’t miss this fondue time machine for it is only leaving the Sauce and Bread Kitchen station twice. Veggies are always welcome just let them know before hand.

July 30

Chicago(Lincoln Park)Green City Market Tour and Lunch at Perennial Virant - 10:30am Presented by Chicago Gourmets and the Green City Market.

August 2-15

•••••• Chicago - 14 Day Intensive Urban Permaculture Design Workshop - Hosted by the Chicago Permaculture Guild and taught by Albert Bates. Albert Bates was a civil sector representative at the Copenhagen climate conference, trying to point the world back towards a stable atmosphere using soils and trees – Garden Earth. His books include Climate in Crisis (1990), The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook (2006) and The Biochar Solution (2010). He has taught appropriate technology, natural building and ecovillage design to students from more than sixty nations. A co-founder and past president of the Global Ecovillage Network, he is presently retired and living in an ecovillage in rural Tennessee.

August 2

Chicago (Back of the Yards) - Aquaponics Herb Garden Workshop – 2pm The Plant 1400 W. 46th St.

Chicago - Fork and The Road Bike Tours Sausage Fest - Tour meetup information will be emailed to ticket-holders one week before each tour. Expect to bike 10 to 15 miles per tour and eat at three to five food purveyors befitting that tour’s theme. Vegetarian modifications can be made to all tours but Sausage

August 3

Chicago – Fork and The Road Bike Tours History’s Favorite Foods

August 7-10

Chicago – The 35th American Community Gardening Assoc. Conference - Join your peers, and meet new friends, for exciting tours, networking and presentations by the leading lights in the community garden movement. Plus there will be other incredible presentations, networking, and tours of Chicago gardens (including our Edible Treasures Garden at The Field Museum – the host venue). To top it off, Garfield Park Conservatory is hosting a big “garden soiree” to celebrate the 35 years of achievement of this incredible organization. Find out more and purchase tickets for this event HERE!

August 9-10

NapervilleVeggiefest – 11am – 8pm Vegetarians, vegans, health conscious and family-fun seekers will enjoy Veggie Fest, an outdoor festival held on the grounds ofthe Science of Spirituality Meditation Center. Free admission, free parking and a wide assortment of vegetarian fun for the whole family. Expected to attract 30,000 visitors.

August 9

Bangor, MI - Camp Blueberry – For two Saturdays this season – August 9 and 16 – Joe’s Blueberry Farm is opening their farm up to tent campers. They have seven spots available on each of those Saturdays. Camping hours will be from 6 p.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. on Sunday.  No charge. It’s primitive camping – but there will be porta potties and fresh water. If you’re already a Joe’s Blues customer, just send them an email. If they have more requests than spots, they’ll draw names. Deadline for letting them know is July 8.

Chicago(Back of the Yards) –  The Monster Food Truck Rally Returns 11:00am–3:00pmThe Plant 
1400 West 46th Street is once again hosting the city’s finest food trucks for a great day of Southside fun at its third annual Food Truck Rally. Tickets are now on sale for $5, and will be available for $7 at the door. Guests of The Plant will enjoy: Local food trucks La Adelita, Bridgeport Pasty, Flirty Cupcakes, and more to be announced. All proceeds directly benefit the mission and programming of Plant Chicago, NFP, a 501c3 non-profit organization with a mission to promote closed-loop food production and sustainable economic development through education and research

Chicago(Hyde Park) - Common Threads Produce Stand and Open House - 10am – 1pm 4901 South Kenwood All the following workshops and activities are FREE!! 11 am & noon: Medicinal Herbs & Weeds – Cheryl Williamson, Herbologist + Master Gardener Ongoing: Cooking in the Garden – Stephanie Folkens, Common Threads Chef Ongoing Kid’s Activity: Oragami Flower Making

Fairbury - Slagel Farm Dinner with Found Kitchen & Rootstock 2:30pm Bus option available from Chicago.

August 13

•••••• Chicago - Taste of the Nation Chicago - No child should go hungry and 1 out of 5 in Illinois are. Attend this incredible event to fight hunger in Illinois. A beautiful venue, Navy Pier and it’s the night for fireworks, incredible chefs and very tasty cocktails. Join the hunger core and make a difference while tasting food from the chefs we love.

August 16

Chicago – Fork and The Road Bike Tours Emerald Necklace Tour

Oak Park - 7th Annual Oak Park Micro Brew Review - Get to downtown Oak Park  for the largest zero-waste, craft beer event in the Midwest!  Featuring over 150 inventive brews from the Midwest’s finest craft breweries, live music and small plates from popular local restaurants. Co-produced with the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild. The Micro Brew Review is a fundraiser benefiting Seven Generations Ahead and the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild. Tickets are non-refundable.

August 17

Chicago - Fork and The Road Bike Tours Korean, Remixed

Chicago (Lincoln Park) - Sunday Supper at Floriole - 6-8pm Join them one Sunday each month. Ode To Sweet Corn: Chilled corn soup, local marinated shrimp, seared flank steak, corn pudding, tomato-corn salad, cornmeal crusted crostata, roasted peaches, peach leaf ice cream

August 30

Chicago - Cochon 555′s Heritage BBQ – 4-8pm Goose Island Brewery 1800 W. Fulton Heritage BBQ presented by Goose Island Beer Co. is an all-inclusive event, a stand-up tasting where five notable chefs will each be given a 200 pound heritage breed pig to create six dishes for a crowd of pork-loving enthusiasts. A panel of 20 respected judges will vote for the city’s “BBQ King or Queen.” The events raise awareness for responsible family farms, culinary schools, local food producers, craft brewers, great winemakers, and prestigious distillers wanting to celebrate with an amazing food event during National Bourbon Month. The cause is local, the flavors are global, the talent is unbridled.

Chicago – Fork and The Road Bike Tours Architect’s Diet

September 6

Chicago – Fork and The Road Bike Tours Italy, not Eataly

September 7

Chicago(Uptown) - 5th Annual Kegs For Kids The Hopleaf Bar Tasting Party – 12pm – 5pm A benefit for Edgewater’s Helen C. Pierce Elementary

September 13-14

ChicagoMod Mex & Mod Mix – Kendall College Four of the world’s finest Mexican chefs unite in Chicago this fall to cook, compete, and create.  Join them for two days of hands-on demonstrations, intimate conversation and the most memorable meal of your life: Chef Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill/Topolobampo/XOCO, Chef Curtis Duffy, Grace, Chef Fany Gerson La Newyorkina Brooklyn, NY,  Chef Pablo Salas Amaranta Restaurant, Mexico City

September 13

Chicago(Hyde Park) - Common Threads Produce Stand and Open House - 10am – 1pm 4901 South Kenwood All the following workshops and activities are FREE!! 11 am & Noon: Introduction to Permaculture – Matthew Stephens, Permaculture Expert Ongoing: Cooking in the Garden – Stephanie Folkens, Common Threads ChefOngoing Kid’s Activity: Make Your Own Chia Pet

Fairbury - Slagel Farm Dinner with Three Aces, Bedford & Carriage House 2:30pm Bus option available from Chicago.

September 20

Chicago – Fork and the Road Bike Tours Poultry Slam

September 21

Fairbury – Harvest Feast Spence Farm Foundation

September 26-28

Chicago - Chicago Gourmet Weekend – Millenium Park – Ground Zero for these 3 days in the world for all things culinary. Checkout the link for tickets, information, schedule, events.

October 4

Chicago – Fork and the Road Bike Tours Vedging Out


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Farmers Markets Celebrated on U.S. Postage Stamps!

Posted: July 22, 2014 at 9:11 am


Sarah Chenevert is the daughter of Don and Elizabeth who run Green Oak Farm in Dunlap, Illinois. Sarah penned the following article about the upcoming Farmers Market postage stamps release by the United States Postal Service.


Farmers Markets Forever® stamps. Photo: USPS

Farmers Markets Forever® stamps.
Photo: USPS

Farmers Markets Celebrated on U.S. Postage Stamps!


Sarah Chenevert


From ripe fruits and vegetables, to hot, fresh bread, to fresh cut flowers and herbs, there is one group to thank . . . farmers!  To celebrate the more than 8,000 farmers markets across the country, the United States Postal Service is issuing four Farmers Market postage stamps this summer.   The USPS first-day ceremony will occur at the Freshfarm Market near the White House in Washington, DC on August 7, 2014.

The release of the Farmers Market stamps coincides with the United States Department of Agriculture’s “National Farmers Market Week” which occurs from August 3 through August 9 this year.  Use of the stamps will promote awareness of the bounty of American agriculture and the high quality produce available at farmers markets in the United States.     To promote awareness of farming and local farmers markets, farmers and consumers should buy and use the stamps on their outgoing mail.  Sheets of 20 Farmers Market stamps sell for $9.80 and will be available nationwide through local post offices and the USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services in Kansas City, Missouri.

The four stamps, designed by art director Greg Breeding and illustrated by Robin Moline form a panoramic view of a vendor’s stall at a local farmers market.  The colorful, uniquely designed side-by-side or se-tenant stamps display the richness of America’s farmers markets.  Starting from the left, the first stamp depicts a variety of homemade baked goods, fresh eggs and tawny, artisan cheeses.  The next stamp depicts an assortment of perfectly arranged fruits and vegetables just waiting to be used in a garden fresh vegetable soup!  Freshly-cut, eye-catching sunflowers dominate the next frame accented with bouquets of vibrant, colorful flowers.  The last stamp contains an assortment of fresh herbs to enhance the flavor of any meal and potted plants to liven up home gardens.

People may ask, “Why should we support local farmers markets if we can buy produce at the grocery store?”  Local farmers markets provide a venue for farmers to sell their high quality produce face-to-face with their customers.  Because they are closer to the consumer, local producers provide fresher, more flavorful produce for their customers and minimize spoilage and the amount of fuel needed to bring their goods to market.

In addition, farmers markets support small family farms, boost the local economy, create local business and employment opportunities and promote diverse, sustainable farming operations across the country.    By supporting your local farmers market, you can keep local farmers working the land and ensure that the next generation of Americans can enjoy locally grown fruits and vegetables.  So I encourage you to shop at your local farmers market this week and tell your farmers how much you appreciate their good work and their produce.

Green Oak Farm is a diversified family farm located at 15906 North Route 91 in Dunlap, Illinois just north of Peoria. They grow vegetables, poultry and other livestock using sustainable agricultural practices that nurture the soil through natural, biological methods. They provide eggs,  grass-fed, heritage cattle and hogs along with a wide range of vegetables from asparagus to zucchini.

Sarah, Don and her brother James are not only farmers, they are each philatelists.  Sarah and James are bothYoung Philatelic Leaders Fellows with the American Philatelic Society.




Weekly Harvest of Eat Local Links

Posted: July 21, 2014 at 2:19 pm

summer milk


Don’t you want to see?

Civil links.

The next round of notable local cheeses.

Don’t forget the old timers.

And someone at their peak right now.

Eat better lunches.

Eat local at the ballpark.

Eat local hospital food.

What’s In Season Now, Whole Roasted Tomatoes

Posted: July 15, 2014 at 9:21 am

whole roasted tomatoes

Farming, especially organic farming, is an endeavor wrought with variables. Take the weather. I have never heard a farmer like what the weather gave her. Too hot. Too cold. Too wet–”could not work my field.” Too dry–”do you know how much money this irrigation system costs me?” Farmer’s test their soil. Fuss with their compost. Mix and match. Hope and pray. And then a hailstorm comes and wrecks it all. Tomato Mountain Organic Farm, the place that both employs my wife and provides our CSA felt the cruel swing of nature this summer. From one of ideal conditions to that of damage overnight. Their fields felled by one of our now normal, call it climate change not global warming, induced t-storms. Hail blitzed. Winds whipped. A hoop house did a little Wizard of Oz number. A crop of onions and others decimated. To the rescue, jars and jars of summer’s bounty preserved, batches of Tomato Mountain’s tomatoes.

Tomato Mountain delivered quart jars of whole roasted tomatoes to make up for the lost value in their CSA boxes. Now, while I rue the circumstances that got us these jars, I actually welcome their addition to the larder. See, this is the season for canned tomatoes. You may think the time to open a jar of tomatoes is January or so, when the third Polar Vortex has you forgetting tomatoes ever existed. Yet, what will you do. Will a little marinara sauce warm your icy toes. That time of year you need rich, heavy foods anyways. Summer is when you need the light, purity of jarred tomatoes. There are several ideal seasonal dishes to use with your old tomatoes.

Take the abundance of summer squash now filling gardens and stalls. One of the best ways to eat summer squash is stewed in a sauce of whole roasted tomatoes. An even more classic candidate for this style of dish, all the green beans now arriving. Nearly every summer vegetable can be enjoyed in a bath of whole roasted tomatoes. First let me tell you why you should use your old tomatoes and then I’ll give you the basic formula for mixing with summer’s bounty.

This is also the season of tomato, and many of the recipes you will see for baked vegetables call for fresh tomatoes, perhaps fresh tomatoes grated. You could do it that way, but I don’t. For one thing, I want my tomatoes too many ways besides cooked. A good, local tomato makes everything it touches taste better. So, now is also the time of year I eat a lot of bagels; now is the time of year I eat a lot of spreadable goat or sheep’s cheese; now is the time of year I make blue cheese salads and blt’s. That’s where my tomatoes go. When I stew my eggplant, have my caponata, I’m opening the jars. For the other thing is, it’s a lot easier. No worry about peeling. No worrying about being at the right stage. These whole roasted tomatoes from Tomato Mountain are the right consistency and texture for your dishes.

Making them, it depends on the vegetable. Green beans, zucchini, summer squash, greens, about all the vegetables but eggplant, do not need any extra steps. Do this. Sweat an onion or two to give it a head start in a wide bottom pan that you can fit a lid. Add your washed, trimmed vegetables. Cover with the contents of your jarred tomatoes based upon the size of your pan/amount of veg you have on hand. Season pretty hard with salt. Include a clove or more of garlic, some of many herbs if you have (but save enough herbs to use after cooking where they will do the best). Bring to a boil and then turn to a simmer. Put a loose lid (or cover with foil if needed). Some people let it finish in the oven, where the heat is more even, but I think you get fine results stove top. Check starting around 20 or so minutes after you start simmering. Your definition of done may differ from mine.

You may think we put away tomatoes to earn a taste of summer when things are most dreadful, but I’m telling you, we put away tomatoes to have them ready for next summer. Tomato Mountain may have put some away to cover the emergency of lost crops. You should have had them anyways. Eat seasonal food. Eat what’s in season now. What’s in season now is last year’s tomatoes.

This Week’s Harvest of Eat Local Links Monday, July 14th, 2014
July’s Rooftop Movie & Mingle Night at the Weiss Memorial Hospital Rooftop Farm Monday, July 14th, 2014
What’s In Season Now: Stale Bread Thursday, July 10th, 2014
Time Passes, Time to Tamar Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
It’s Another Week of the Summer Harvest of Eat Local Links Monday, July 7th, 2014
About a Betta Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014
The Local Calendar 7/2/14 Merry Berry Happy Fourth!! Fermented Foods at Sugar Beet Co-op Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014
Just Enough Coals, Plenty of Water and Some Really Old Produce – It’s Tamaring Time Again Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
Start Your Week Off With Our Harvest of Eat Local Links Monday, June 30th, 2014
Tails From The Prairie Friday, June 27th, 2014
The Will to Locavore Tuesday, June 24th, 2014
Governor Quinn Approves Legislation Supporting Farmers Markets Monday, June 23rd, 2014
Getting a Head Start on Your Weekly Harvest of Eat Local Links Monday, June 23rd, 2014
Good Greens Meeting Agenda 6/26, Grants, Jobs, Resources Friday, June 20th, 2014
Getting to This Week’s Harvest of Eat Local Links – Wood, Cheese and Plenty to Drink Thursday, June 19th, 2014
Forward Local Calendar: Green City Market BBQ, Taste of the Nation, Farm Dinners, Fermented Foods, Permaculture Workshops and More Wednesday, June 18th, 2014
The Local Calendar 6/18/14 Meet The Market Kinmont, Support Spence Farm at BrownTrout, Moody Tongue debut Wednesday, June 18th, 2014
Green City Market Announces Chef Lineup for Their Annual BBQ July 17 Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
If It’s Thursday There Must Be an Interesting Speaker at Eli’s Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
Time Again for Our Weekly Harvest of Eat Local Links Monday, June 9th, 2014
Wine To Water™, Support the Right to Clean Water and Taste Top Wine Picks At The Same Time Monday, June 9th, 2014
We Need You To Sign This Petition Today!!! Armchair Advocacy for Good Cheese! Thursday, June 5th, 2014
Be a Local Food Star Today! Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
The Local Calendar 6/4/14 What Is Your Favorite Market? Piggy Benefit at Big Jones Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
Only One Day Off from a Weekly Harvest of Eat Local Links Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014
Local Flavors – Downstate Farm-to-Table Series of Lunch and Dinner Events Kicks off Today Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014
What Irv Gets Right Friday, May 30th, 2014
The End of the Lazy Locavore and the Return of Tamarday Wednesday, May 28th, 2014
Illinois General Assembly Approves Smarter Rules for Farmers Markets Legislation Wednesday, May 28th, 2014
I Keep on Harvesting Your Eat Local Links Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
The NRA Show 2014 Some Local, Sustainable Light Amid All The Main Stream Food Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
The Local Calendar 5/21/14, Memorial Day, The Start of the “Summer” Market Season Wednesday, May 21st, 2014
Deadline for Applications Alma MBA Food and Wine June 30th Tuesday, May 20th, 2014
On a Roll, The Weekly Harvest of Eat Local Links Monday, May 19th, 2014
A Streak of Two – The Weekly Harvest of Eat Local Links Monday, May 12th, 2014
Fearless Food: From Plot to Plate! Wednesday, May 7th, 2014
The Local Calendar 5/7/14 Wednesdays at Green City, Beats at Iron Street, Mother’s Day at Mint Creek Wednesday, May 7th, 2014
A New Streak of Weekly Harvests Starts Now Monday, May 5th, 2014
Fences Make Good Puppies Sunday, May 4th, 2014
New Local Food Systems and Small Farms Program Website Wednesday, April 30th, 2014
Local Calendar 4/30/14 Green City Market Outdoor Opens, Morel Fest, New Wave Brewer’s Bash, Slagel Farm Dinner With Chef Paul Virant Wednesday, April 30th, 2014
Not much space to garden? Try tomatoes in containers! Friday, April 25th, 2014
If It’s This Week, It’s Weekly – Eat Local Links Thursday, April 24th, 2014
The Local Calendar 4/16/14 One Last Soup and Bread, Mint Creek Brunch, Green City Market Wednesday, April 16th, 2014
Vegetables are People Too! Wednesday, April 16th, 2014
Next Weekly Harvest of Flawed Indices & More Eat Local Links Monday, April 14th, 2014
Eat This Friday, April 11th, 2014
Fruit Vendor Wanted for PCC Austin Produce Market Friday, April 11th, 2014
What’s Not in Season is In Season Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
The Local Calendar 4/9/14 CoffeeCon, Cochon 555, Pastoral Artisan Producer Festival Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
Know Your Farmer, Know Your Cheesemonger, Know Your Cheese! 4th Annual Pastoral Artisan Producer Festival Monday, April 7th, 2014
Each Week, We Harvest Some Eat Local Links for Your Extra Reading Monday, April 7th, 2014
Local Purveyors on the Top of the List for The Sugar Beet Co-op Products Monday, April 7th, 2014
The Talking Farm Holds Fundraiser To Support Expansion of Urban Farm Friday, April 4th, 2014
Asparagus – a Springtime Delight and a Great Addition to Any Garden! Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014
Irv and Shelly Welcome You to Fresh Picks + Farmers, Pig Roast & More – Sunday April 6 Tuesday, April 1st, 2014
Jeannie’s Here With the Other Eat Local Links We’ve Harvested Monday, March 31st, 2014
The Local Calendar 3/26/14 Farm Dinner Season, Local Foods Awareness Day, Come See Us At Soup And Bread Tonight! Wednesday, March 26th, 2014
This Does Seem Like a Weekly Harvest (Of Eat Local Links) Monday, March 24th, 2014
This is NOT Your Momma’s Bread of Affliction Friday, March 21st, 2014
The Registration Deadline for Local Food Awareness Day is Monday, March 24th Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
Special Harvest of Good Food Festival Links Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
Farmer’s Markets are Not Bullshit Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
Anatomy of a CSA Tuesday, March 18th, 2014
Our Weekly Harvest of Eat Local Links Monday, March 17th, 2014
Chef Dean Zanella Has Supported Local For A Very Long Time, Now Let’s Support Him! Monday, March 17th, 2014
We gotcha new Chicago-area breweries … right here … updated, yet! Monday, March 17th, 2014
The Local Calendar 3/12/14 The Good Food Fest Is Here, Soup And Bread Tonight, Green City Market And More! Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
Is This the Year You’ll Join a CSA? Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
Smarter Rules for Farmers Markets Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
Ed Needs A Van: Here’s Why Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
Groundbreaking Local Food Initiative Announced – Localizing the Chicago Foodshed Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
Pretty Soon It Will Be a Weekly Harvest Again Monday, March 10th, 2014
The Local Beet 2014 Guide to Chicagoland Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) Monday, March 10th, 2014
It’s A Good Food Week Monday, March 10th, 2014
GE Foods Its Complicated! Sunday, March 9th, 2014
Have you ever dreamed of having your own farm in or near the city? Upcoming workshop can help make this a reality! Thursday, March 6th, 2014
USDA Announces Fiscal Year 2015 Farm to School Grants Thursday, March 6th, 2014
Good Food Festival and More Eat Local Links – The Weekly Harvest Monday, March 3rd, 2014
Coffee: The Need For Caffeine Where Does Local Fit In? The Coffee Project Part 1 Sunday, March 2nd, 2014
Are We Still a Local Family Friday, February 28th, 2014
The Local Calendar 2/27/14 Support The Plant at Revolution Brewing Tap Room, Urban Roots, Sugar Beet Market Thursday, February 27th, 2014
Several Friends in One Place – Winter Market with the Sugar Beet on Sat March 1 Thursday, February 27th, 2014
Happy Anniversary Good Food Festival Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
The Return of the Weekly Harvest Monday, February 24th, 2014