Thursday, January 24, 2008

Eat Local Eggs

Some Help

On this blog I've tried to encourage the eating of local mostly by showing that it can be done, and also showing how pleasurable it can be. What I want to do more, in 2008, is be a bit more specific.

I linked to Hat Hammond's post the other day on local eggs because of the way it glorified the product (and not the least the nice pics and nice prose). I realized afterwards that readers would not want just to be tempted, to get a vicarious thrill. They'd want local eggs too. In the thread, Hammond mentions that Marion Street Cheese in Oak Park had local, farm eggs. I mention a few other egg options.
During the farmer's market season, it's possible to find eggs, at least in some markets--I know it's possible at Green City, Oak Park and Evanston. What about now. Well, you can try this site, which has a listing of egg producers in Illinois. Terragusta, on Addison, used to sell eggs from Country Cottage, a farm in Illinois; I'm not sure that they do now as I have not been there in ages. The Country Cottage web site lists one store in Chicago that sells their eggs.

The Wettstein's bring stuff to Oak Park's Buzz Cafe about once a month, and they usually bring eggs. Ann Fisher usually posts when they will show on LTHForum.

Has anyone been to the Geneva Winter Market (today and all Thursdays)? I imagine they have an egg vendor. Information on other winter markets can be found here.

What's Local (about Now) in Michigan


Here's an eat local conundrum. If a Chicagoan, running low of local foods, jets off to Los Angeles to hit the Santa Monica Farmers Market, considered one of the best markets in the USA, and one in full bloom now as in summer, buys a bunch of stuff, is he eating local?

To eat local in the winter, in a northern zone like Chicago, one must rely on stored food or farmers that take extraordinary means to coax food. Our stored food dwindles; we can only get so much from Farmer Vicki. With the kidz off of school for two days, we hit the trail looking for local. We did not get as far as Santa Monica. What made more sense, we'd go to Michigan.

Most of Michigan is more than 100 miles from my bungalow, but the family and I do not limit our localness to 100 miles. We count the whole state of Michigan from its tartest cherries at the tip to the abundance of Zingerman goat cheeses at the other end of the mitt as part of our local. Like Wisconsin, who we also include in its entirety, Michigan is a state with an abundant local food culture. I guess when the key food crop of your home state is high fructose corn syrup it helps to look afield. Our plan included the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, the above mentioned Zingerman's, and Detroit's Eastern Market. On the way to Michigan, we hoped to finally hit the American Countryside Farmer's Market in Elkhart.

We really hoped to find some roots, especially rutabaga, which we have none, as well as more beets, more carrots are always useful, perhaps some celery root; we'd be even happy with more turnips. Stored, winter cabbage would be especially cool. After four days on the road, we found none of that. We did come back with some local foods (and had quite a few good meals too).

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What's Local in Martha's Vineyard

NYTimes On the Case - "On Martha’s Vineyard, Using Scallops as Currency"

Even in January, her hours in the kitchen have a purpose. Sitting in the bright oak post-and-beam room built by her husband, Richard Osnoss, a carpenter, Ms. Buhrman explained that she tries to eat only food raised on Martha’s Vineyard and to go down island to the grocery store in Vineyard Haven as little as possible...“You can buy heirloom tomatoes in the winter from God knows where and they don’t taste anything like the ones from Caitlin’s farm on Middle Road in Chilmark.” The contrast between summer produce at its peak and what is available off season drives Ms. Buhrman to find new ways of putting up summer fruits and vegetables. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
It's a good article (link, but reg. req.) with a couple of good winter recipes--although I quibble that a recipe includes Vidalia or sweet onions, a VERY NOT winter product. What I don't quite quibble about the article, but what makes me quibbly [ed. quibbly?] is the whole ruralness of the scene. What I mean is that I greatly admire and appreciate stories like this, but there is a distinct difference between eating local as part of a farming community and eating local in a suburban community like Oak Park. I'm not jealous per se, not frustrated per se, just, well, quibbley.

Eat Local Eggs

David the Hat Hammond Testifies

I can do no worse on this blog than to crib from pieces like this, Hammond's excellent tribute to local, farm eggs he is getting from Farmer Vicki's Genesis Growers. Needless to say, in a hopeless act of me-tooism, we get our eggs also from Farmer Vicki.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Drink Local Vodka


From Gaper's Block:
DiVine Vodka Reception @ Brasserie Jo
Head to Brasserie Jo tonight from 5-8pm for an hors d'oeuvres reception sponsored by DiVine vodka, a Michigan-based distiller. Cost is $25 for food (which will be made with DiVine vodka) and cocktails; call 312-595-0800 to reserve your spot.

I like eating local. Sure, I want to reduce my food miles; I like keeping money in the (relatively) local economy, and I like the fact I can actually visit the factory. But mostly, I'm parochial about my food. I root for my team. Maybe not all local vodkas taste good. I know of three: DiVine, North Shore Distillery and Death's Door. I've only tried the first two. Needless to say, I like drinking local. Don't just believe me, see what Chicago Mag has to say (pdf). DiVine is made from grapes, and yes there is a grapiness to the vodka (in a good way).

I cannot make the event tomorrow. I will enjoy some DiVine vodka.

Blog Updates

I've finally gotten around to updating my blog roll, adding some good eat local resources as well as a few of my favorite places. In addition, I've added a section for background information. This section is for those who have picked up the quest to eat local in the middle of the adventure.

The Inventory

Lettuce + Potatoes + Apples = Happy Localvore

Updated 2/11/08
I recorded our inventory of local foods on December 20, 2007. Since that date, we have tried to eat all our meals at home using solely our local ingredients (but for our standard exceptions such as olive oil, spices, etc.). The moderating force against our inventory is that we eat out a lot still. My wife and I will go out for some lunches, and at least a few times each weekend, the family visits some restaurant. Plus, we took a winter holiday and a just completed a road trip to Michigan--to be reported as I have time. We eat local, but we are not totally local.

I have copied what I reported back in December. Changes made before today are in CAPS. New changes are in italics.

Meat and egg supplies remain strong, we have increased our supply of locally grown dry beans, increased our supplies of locally grown grains, and increased our supply of locally produced cheeses.

Cranberries - about twelve packages - HAVE NOT TOUCHED, HOPEFULLY THE CRANBERRIES REMAIN EDIBLE - fingers crossed
Pie pumpkins - maybe 4 - STILL VIABLE - NO CHANGE - fingers crossed
Celery - 2 bunches - SEVERAL STALKS, BUT IT'S GETTING SOFT - really soft
Herbs - ROSEMARY AND SORREL - NO CHANGE/SEE BELOW - have used some rosemary
Winter squash - plenty including acorn, delicata, turban and butternut - MEDIUM STOCK - NO CHANGE - No change
Keeper onions - GOOD STOCK - NO CHANGE - See below/obtained 3 lbs
Sweet potatoes - GOOD STOCK - NO CHANGE - Low stock, had to toss several moldy
Garlic - about 25 heads - VERY GOOD STOCK - NO CHANGE - No change
Sunchokes - UNCHANGED - No Change
Carrots - LOW STOCK - NO CHANGE - Dwindling
Parsnips LOW STOCK - NO CHANGE - No change
Beets - LOW STOCK - TOSSED SOME - No change
Turnips - MEDIUM STOCK - NO CHANGE - No change

Lettuce - 3 bags of romaine - 1 remaining
Cabbage - 2 heads - No change
Herbs - parsley, cilantro - No change
Microgreens - 1/2 left
Peashoots - No change
Potatoes - 10lbs, red - No change/obtained 5 lbs (used some of the newest)
Apples - red delicious, fuji - Consumed many/obtained 3 lbs
Mushrooms - baby portobello, mixed oyster/shitake - Consumed all/obtained 1 lb shitake & 1 lb oyster (cultivated)

Other Additions since 2/9/08
Lettuce - 5 bags mixed greens
Grains - hard wheat, soft wheat, wheat berries (consumed some)
Celery root - 2 lbs

From the freezer: broccoli, cauliflower, peas, ASPARAGUS, greens - freezer stocks remain good