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Blog Wed Sep 12 2007

Localvore Challenge, Day 2

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Today I was much more local. For breakfast I had the local granola, blueberries from Michigan and Kefir, which I buy fairly regularly and comes from Lifeway Foods in Morton Grove. I even filled the lunchboxes with (mostly) local fare: spinach-and-cheese scones from Red Hen Bread, snap-pea sprouts from the green market and some grapes that were on the verge of turning into raisins, so they needed to be eaten. I ate the same lunch myself, minus the grapes.
I don’t think my daughter ate much of her lunch. She doesn’t seem to be enjoying the challenge. Last night at dinner she asked what kind of candy a person might eat when they’re eating local. Whole Foods was promoting Vosges Haut-Chocolat as a local source. It's made by a company keen on green, but I don't think cocoa beans are grown in the Chicago area. Wrigley’s is in the business of making gum, also from ingredients that probably aren’t from here. But for the sake of my 7-year-old, we'll consider them local.

Her other big question was about eating out. My family loves to eat out. For people that eat out a lot, or want to eat locally without having to hunt for ingredients, the Localvore Challenge web site lists restaurants serving local food this week. But almost all are out of my price range—North Pond, One Sixty Blue and Prairie Grass Café in Northbrook, to name a few. Prairie Grass is hosting an end-of-the-week brunch for Localvore participants, but mainly participants who aren’t paying $20 per person for a family of four. This got us talking about the economics of eating only local food. Clearly not everyone can afford to buy eggplants and apples straight from the farm. I love to shop at farmers’ markets, but when I do I find that I can quickly empty my wallet while buying only a few tomatoes, a loaf of bread and some cheese. Eating locally is a middle- (or upper-middle-) class issue; if everyone did it, maybe prices would start to fall. For the time being, I figure I can only afford to do this long term, and sometimes eat out at restaurants that serve local food, if our friends who gave us the chard and basil agree to grow all of our food for us.
For dinner we had Boca burgers, perhaps not made locally, but distributed from Madison, Wisconsin. I didn’t get home from work until close to 7 o’clock, and on nights like this we rely of food that can be prepared in 15 minutes or fewer. We ate the burgers on bread from Red Hen, topped with the rest of the sprouts from the Green City Market. We also ate some sliced locally grown pears and red peppers. Something I’ve become attuned to in the past few days is the way labels on packaged foods don’t say where the food was made; they say where it was distributed. (I’ve also noticed how much I rely on packaged foods.) I thought that living so close to Battle Creek, Michigan, it would be easy to convince myself that my breakfast foods were local. But all of Kellogg’s, Kraft’s and Organic Valley’s (except for the dairy) products say “distributed from” and not “made in.” I’ve also realized that we eat a lot of bread. This is something I don’t have any desire to make at home. I’m kind of afraid of recipes involving yeast.

 
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Ben / September 13, 2007 9:25 AM

You shouldn't be afraid of yeast and bread making. It is quite easy to make a passable loaf - especially if you just want a sandwich bread - although it can be time consuming and even that time commitment. For a truly simple and easy bread recipe you should check out the article from the NYT last year about no knead bread.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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