My wife loves to tell the story about our first trip to the Oak Park Farmer's Market, back in 2000; first market of the year. Just about all flowers. Not even good donuts. Almost lost us as customers on that day. Luckily, we stuck it out. Now, we go to Ann Arbor, 10 degrees below zero, find one bag of lettuce (practically) and are overjoyed. Finding just a bit of local makes us happy.
We did not have much expectations when we went into Andy's today. I had agreed to take my wife to Albany Park for falafal on the condition that we could buy some house made merguez sausage from Sahar Meat to saddle up along side tomorrow's planned kefta. So, in the neighborhood, we ran into Andy's mostly to get a few pieces of non-local fruit. Which we got, a few oranges and tangerines, but we also got some needed local. It made us very happy.
We are not lacking in onions, but neither are we filled up either. If my wife is to make her Jamie Oliver onion gratin next week for Passover, we need lotsa onions (don't tell anyone there's dairy in the casserole). Andy's had three pound bags of, abet small, Michigan onions for $3. They also had 1o lb bags of Wisconsin russet potatoes for less than $2 and 3 lb bags of Michigan apples in multiple varieties (Empire, Cortland, Red Delicious and Golden Delicious) for $1.69 each. Finally, there were Macintoshes without a sign a label. Because they did not have a sticker and were wonderfully imperfect, I'm betting these are Michigan too--betting enough that I bought a few pounds. I was happy to find some local, especially some things we need.
The finds at Andy's also spoke to something else that's been on my mind. When I had my talk local lunch the other day, we talked a lot about the cost of local food. I'm not denying that local food can cost more than conventional food, that there is a premium so to speak, a premium at least on any "fancy food", but it is also true that if you buy what is in season, including local, you will often find produce at its cheapest. Yes, yes (yes!), most people are not going to want to eat as many apples, potatoes and onions as my family did over the winter. Maybe, however, a bit more onion gratin and a few less stalks of Mexican asparagus in the shopping cart? There are ways to save money and eat local. We got local and we did not spend much.
Anyways, let me end by giving another shout out to Sahar. It is right up there, near the top, of my non-local meat stores. There are certain parts of the lamb, that if, if I ever had the need to try, I would want to buy them from Sahar. In the meantime, I'm happy with their sausage, their incredible prices on lamb, or their cut to order veal shoulder.
Andy's Fruit Ranch
4733 N. Kedzie
4829 N Kedzie Ave