Tuesday, August 16, 2005

How Local?

One of the first things you are s'posed to do in the Local Food Challenge is define what local means. Now, before I give my definition, let me say that one can *really* eat local in Chicago. Protein, well, there ARE fish near the city limits. Start here. There are live birds for sale in Chicago, but they are not necessarily raised here. Here's a listing. There are people raising things, fruits and vegetables within city limits. In fact, with the amount of vacant land (and little use for all that old industrial space), it will not be long until a LOT of food is grown within Chicago. Growing Power stared in Milwaukee and were leaders in urban farming. They operate in Chicago now. You can purchase their stuff at the weekly Green City Market. There is also City Farm, who sells their stuff twice a week, Tuesday and Thursday, from a location on the near north side (1240 N. Clybourn). Of course, there is butter made on the south side, beer on the north side and Beeline honey on the west side. To drink, Filberts.

Alas, I will not keep myself to city limits. [ed. don't you live outside of city limits?]. I define local eating as roughly matching the "real" Big 10 (that is, skipping Penn State), but Ohio seems far away too. Mostly, it is Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan, although for milk, I HAVE to include Farmer's All Natural Creamery Milk from Amish farmers in Iowa 'cause it is SO good. Within these broad boundries are some of the best fruits and vegetables around. We are especially blessed with peaches, grapes, potatoes, cabbage, blueberries, cranberries, apples, and especially that greatest of fruits, the sour cherry. Plenty of other fruits and vegetables in season as well. Just scroll down.

While local fruits and vegetables have been very available, local meat has been a bit harder to come by until the last few years. Now, Farmer's Market's like Green City and Oak Park feature meats raised, typically on grass, in nearby farms. As I have remarked before, the Wettstein's are about the coolest farmer's around, raising pigs, chicken, turkeys, lamb and beef on grass and grains grown on their farm. The eggs their chicken's produce (sold at Henry's Farm in Evanston as well) will easily convince you why to eat local. The only problem with the local meat is that it is almost all frozen at the time of processing because of market factors.

Chicago is still a major center for the manufacture of food. There is a big (very) and secretive plant not too far from in the Galewood neighborhood of Chicago that turns out a Milky Ways, Mars Bars and similar. At the other end, Vosge tries a few new things to do with chocolate. Great cheese is around these parts like Wisconsin's Roth Kase, Capriole, which David Hammond hates, but sadly no blue cheese made any more in Nauvoo. Maple trees are tapped in Wisconsin and Illinois (where it's sirup). Lotsa jellies, jams and honey.

Way more fer sure, but the next post on this topic will be on my jealousy towards the state of Wisconsin, a state that really knows how to eat local.

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