WBEZ | sustainable http://www.wbez.org/tags/sustainable Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Farmers markets in Chicago vary in offerings because of different missions http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/farmers-markets-chicago-vary-offerings-because-different-missions-110284 <p><p>On a breezy Saturday morning in early May, shoppers bustled through the French Market in Lakeview stuffing their bags with brightly colored sweet peppers, plump tomatoes and deep purple eggplants.</p><p>A couple of miles down the road, in Lincoln Park, foodies welcomed the year&rsquo;s first outdoor Green City Market. But here, the pickings were much slimmer: just ramps, asparagus, greens, radishes and some cellared stuff from last year. &nbsp;</p><blockquote><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/farmers-markets-chicago-vary-offerings-because-different-missions-110284#howto" target="_blank"><strong>How to get the most out of your farmers market</strong></a></p></blockquote><p>Even as the the warm weather moved in last week, Michigan-based <a href="http://www.mickklugfarm.com/">Klug Farms</a>, was still only offering, &ldquo;spinach, swiss chard, rhubarb, asparagus, herbs, lettuce, kale and potatoes,&rdquo; said Klug salesclerk Jeremy Sapp, as he stood in Daley Plaza.</p><p>So, with all the recent emphasis on seasonality and local food, why did one market look like it sold imported produce while another reflected springtime in the Midwest? &nbsp;</p><p>It really boils down to different market philosophies. But it also illustrates the importance of knowing your market before you shop. The Chicago area will host more than 150 weekly farmers markets this year and they don&rsquo;t all share the same priorities. &nbsp;</p><p>Leslie Cahill, who manages <a href="http://bensidounusa.com/">14 Bensidoun French Markets in Chicagoland,</a> says these gatherings are more about nurturing new entrepreneurs, creating community and presenting unique products. So, she&rsquo;s not so strict when it comes to local produce. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;For example, I have a farmer who works at my Villa Park French market,&rdquo; Cahill said. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s a wonderful guy and his cousin actually farms tomatoes in Florida. So every spring, he brings up tomatoes from his cousin&rsquo;s farm in Florida. It&rsquo;s not a local product, but it&rsquo;s a personal relationship he&rsquo;s bringing.&rdquo;</p><p>Cahill said she has another vendor who imports fresh figs from the West Coast. And all she asks for is transparency. &nbsp;</p><p>Still, local food advocate Roxanne Junge, who manages the <a href="http://www.glenviewparks.org/facilities-parks/glenview-farmers-market/">Glenview Farmers Market</a>, worries that some vendors won&rsquo;t be so transparent.</p><p>&ldquo;Those who purely go to a wholesaler and buy things that are not at all local and they bring them in and they pass themselves as farmers (they) can undercut those who are doing it themselves,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;So, we need to have real farmers at farmers markets.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Yesenia Mota has managed<a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/farmers_market.html"> City of Chicago farmers markets</a> for more than a decade. And over those years, she says, the city has become much choosier about its vendors.</p><p>&ldquo;When we revamped our application processes a few years ago the city really did a 180,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;We threw out a lot of wholesalers. We decreased our number of markets and really focused on farmers and farmer relations and knowing who these farmers are. And it&rsquo;s amazing with social media, you can really look up a farmer and see what they are growing.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" longdesc="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/French%20Market.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px; float: right;" title="An early May French Market in Lakeview featured bounty normally associated with late summer. But French Market managers say that their markets are about more than local produce. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></p><p>At <a href="http://www.greencitymarket.org/">Green City Market</a>, the process goes one step further. Not only does the produce need to be local. But each vendor must earn and display a specific sustainability certification.</p><p>Most markets also allow co-ops or the ability to bring in produce from a neighbor as it&rsquo;s vetted first.</p><p>Then we&rsquo;ve got the independent farmers markets. These can be located in the city or suburbs. But each is governed by a different set of rules.</p><p>And, as long as people are honest, Junge says this diversity can be a good thing.</p><p>&ldquo;In some areas, people recognize unusual fruits and vegetables. And in other areas, they don&rsquo;t and they won&rsquo;t buy them,&rdquo; says Junge, who&rsquo;s a board member of the <a href="http://ilfarmersmarkets.org/">Illinois Farmers Market Association</a>. &ldquo;In some areas, there&rsquo;s more expendable income and you&rsquo;ll have higher priced items showing up there. And in other places, there&rsquo;s lower income. So, its absolutely OK to have different kinds. They fit in what works in that area.&rdquo;</p><p>This flexibility, for instance, allowed the independent Bronzeville Community Market to include decidedly &ldquo;un&rdquo;local oranges, bananas, broccoli, grapes and packaged lettuce when it opened in 2008 (it&rsquo;s on hiatus this year). Bernita Johnson-Gabriel, who helped launch the market, says it wouldn&rsquo;t have made sense to keep them out.</p><p>&ldquo;Our community sort of fit the profile of being a food desert and so it was important for us to bring in as many healthy options as we could for our constituents,&rdquo; said Johnson-Gabriel who&rsquo;s the Executive Director of the <a href="http://www.qcdc.org/">Quad Communities Development Corporation.</a> &ldquo;Some of those healthy fruits and vegetables were not necessarily locally grown. And while we support local businesses, the access to good fruits and vegetables just wasn&rsquo;t here for us and so we felt the need to sort of make that happen.&rdquo; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>So, why exactly is it so important for some people that the produce at farmers markets be purely local?</p><p>&ldquo;What we are trying to do in Illinois is try to build back our local food systems,&rdquo; Junge said. &ldquo;And to do that we have to support the local agricultural products that will ensure more health, social stability and economic stability.&rdquo;</p><p>For Cahill of the French Markets, however, the goals are a little different.</p><p>&ldquo;I think the goal of all markets is to be a community meeting place,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;That is certainly the essence of what we want to do. Mom can find something there, dad can find something there. You can bring aunt and grandma and the kids can find something, and you can actually eat some food together at the market, and enjoy the day and enjoy the moment.&rdquo;</p><p>Whatever kind of farmers market you attend this summer, Mota suggests: &ldquo;Get to know your farmer so you know where your food is coming from.&rdquo;</p><p>And in some case, get to know your market manager, too. That way, you know what you&rsquo;re buying before you start filling up your bag.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>How to get the most out of your farmers market<a name="howto"></a></strong></p><p>No matter what kind of farmers market you attend this summer, there are some universal tips that can help make the experience better.</p><ul><li>Take an initial spin around the market and get the lay of the land before buying.</li><li>Bring your own bags, including some insulated bags with cold packs if you&rsquo;re taking home perishables.</li><li>Be open to new produce, but also shop with the week&rsquo;s schedule in mind. If you&rsquo;re going to be eating out much of the week, for example, those 10 bags of arugula could be a mistake.</li><li>Give yourself a budget. Between snacks, pastries, produce, cheese and meat, you can easily drop $100 without knowing it.</li><li>If you have limited cash, figure out who takes credit cards and then plot your purchases from there.</li><li>Figure out your priorities--organic, never sprayed, local, biodynamic, pastured, grassfed, heirloom--and then ask questions of the farmers based on them. But keep in mind that, for example, organic tree fruit farming is nearly impossible in the Midwest due to the humidity and the pests. Many fine farmers, instead, use integrated pest management which requires only the most crucial pesticide applications.</li><li>Ask farmers (or chefs doing demos) for suggestions on how best to prepare unfamiliar produce.</li><li>If you&rsquo;re making pies or sauces (or you&rsquo;re just not fussy) ask to see the box of &ldquo;seconds&rdquo; or cheaper, imperfect produce that farmers didn&rsquo;t feel was fit to display on the table.&nbsp;&nbsp;</li><li>Farm fresh pastured chicken eggs sell out fast and require you to get to the market early.&nbsp; And if you find a farmer with healthy egg yolks the color of pumpkins, it means the chickens get to live and forage outdoors. Return to that farmer often.</li><li>Bring lots of small bills. Farmers love exact change and it speeds up transactions.</li><li>Bring old yogurt containers to protect delicate berries and other produce on the trip home.</li><li>Clear off the counters and take out the bowls and colanders before you leave for the market. This may inspire you to wash, process (and even eat) your produce as soon as you come home. Produce loses nutrients within days of picking, so the sooner you can eat it, the better.</li><li>If you&rsquo;re trying to go green, ride your bike to the market. Studies show that your chosen mode of transportation plays a big role overall carbon footprint of your shopping experience.&nbsp;</li><li>If you are going to make a big batch of sauce or pies, call your farmers before the market and ask them to bring the &ldquo;seconds&rdquo; to the next market for you. &mdash; Janine MacLachlan.</li><li>If you want to plan for future cooking projects ask farmers which crops are close to coming in, or more generally consult the city&rsquo;s seasonality chart.&nbsp;</li></ul></p> Wed, 04 Jun 2014 17:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/farmers-markets-chicago-vary-offerings-because-different-missions-110284 Palestinian organic farmers gaining access to global market through fair trade http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-04/palestinian-organic-farmers-gaining-access-global-market-through-fair-tr <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2012-January/2012-01-04/palestine1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Palestine has a small but strong community of sustainable farmers who harvest olive oil, honey, almonds, tahini, cous cous and more. But year after year, politics complicates the harvest. Palestine’s isolation from the world makes it hard for these farmers to fully take part in the growing organic food movement.</p><p>Vivien Sansour represents the <a href="http://www.palestinefairtrade.org/" target="_blank">Palestine Fair Trade Association</a>. She's also the promotions manager for an olive farmer’s collective in the country called <a href="https://www.canaanusa.com/" target="_blank">Canaan Fair Trade</a>. She tells <em>Worldview</em> what life is like for Palestinian farmers.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 04 Jan 2012 17:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-04/palestinian-organic-farmers-gaining-access-global-market-through-fair-tr What is the threshold for a "sustainable, local, seasonal" restaurant? http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/what-threshold-sustainable-local-seasonal-restaurant <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/salmon-chicago-firehouse.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="246" width="400" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-January/2011-01-31/salmon-chicago-firehouse.jpg" title="Chicago Firehouse grilled salmon" alt="" /></p><p>The terms &quot;sustainable,&quot; &quot;local,&quot; and &quot;seasonal&quot; have become as ubiquitous on local menus as those annoying posters for Tito's Handmade Vodka I see in every bar lately. Do chefs and restaurateurs really think they're fooling us? They must. It's unfortunate too, because all of this name-checking and farmer-worshipping - while noble - really diminishes the hard work of the restaurants that have been sticking to this mantra long before it became fashionable.</p><p>My big question is: at what point can a restaurant claim it has a &quot;sustainable&quot; philosophy? Should all of the seafood be responsibly harvested? If you say you work with local, seasonal produce, does that mean it's o.k. to have tomatoes and asparagus on your winter menu? These are always the kinds of things that stick in my craw. I realize most diners just accept it and say to themselves, &quot;oh that's so nice that we're eating in a restaurant where the chef really cares about our environment and the carbon footprint and all,&quot; but it's also code for &quot;this food costs more because we're taking extra steps to ensure that our suppliers are responsible - and most likely smaller than the large, agri-business farming operations - and we hope you'll agree that this is something that is worth the extra expense.&quot;</p><p>Guys like Bruce Sherman and Paul Kahan and Rick Bayless have been doing this sort of cooking for years. As much as Sherman claims he's a supporter of local produce, you'll see names like Nichols, Klug and Prairie Fruits Farm to back it up. When Bayless has a new ceviche on the menu at Frontera, you know the fish has been vetted, making sure it comes from sustainably-caught fisheries.</p><p>So it was with some disappointment - and a little annoyance - when I got a pitch to do a story on chef Kendal Duque, the recently-appointed Executive Chef at The Chicago Firehouse, a South Loop steakhouse that's always been solid, but certainly not among my top 20 culinary destinations in town.</p><p>I noticed on the <a href="http://www.mainstayhospitality.com/index.php?section=31">chef's bio</a> from the Chicago Firehouse website, that having come from the kitchens of Tru, NoMI and Sepia, he has &quot;a passion for sustainable cooking and efforts to purchase only seasonal, fresh ingredients from local farmers when available.&quot; His cooking style is described as &quot;simple and sophisticated with an emphasis on clean, bright flavors.&quot;</p><p>&quot;Wonderful!&quot; I thought. Finally, a steakhouse that's going to ditch the cliché side dishes of potatoes 12 ways and really add some local nuance to a tired formula. Then I noticed &quot;grilled salmon&quot; in the Surf section of the dinner&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mainstayhospitality.com/index.php?section=12">menu</a>, which was obviously Atlantic and farmed, since their lunch menu lists it as Atlantic. According to the <a href="http://www.sheddaquarium.org/pdf/Shedd_seafood_wallet_card_2009-2010.pdf">Shedd Aquarium's &quot;Right Bite&quot; seafood card</a>, farmed, Atlantic salmon is clearly on the &quot;Avoid&quot; side, as are imported king crab (also on the menu) and Atlantic/Pacific imported cod (menu says &quot;roasted cod,&quot; but in order to be sustainable, it has to be Pacific - Alaska longline - caught, and the menu did not specify this). As for sustainability in the extensive beef/pork program, there were no signs that the pigs were coming from responsibly-farmed operations like <a href="http://www.slagelfamilyfarm.com/">Slagel Farm</a> in Fairbury, IL or <a href="http://www.beckerlaneorganic.com/">Becker Lane Organic</a> Farm in Iowa. By virtue of selling all corn-fed beef (which typically contains antibiotics, as opposed to grass-fed and grass-finished), there was no indication that even this featured protein was being sourced sustainably, rather than from a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (<a href="http://www.epa.gov/region07/water/cafo/">CAFO</a>), which, if you've read <u>Ominvore's Dilemma</u>, know is not a good place.</p><p>Then there's the issue of his efforts to purchase only seasonal, fresh ingredients from local farmers. Not sure where baby spinach (Oysters Rockefeller), tomatoes (iceberg wedge) and sides of asparagus are coming from this time of year, but I'm pretty sure they're not from the Midwest.</p><p>My favorite disconnect, however, is with respect to the claim that the food has an &quot;emphasis on clean, bright flavors.&quot; Really? When did smoked bacon, truffle sauce, truffle potato puree, pork belly and lobster bisque (with puff pastry) become considered &quot;clean&quot; flavors, and how do you spin the fact that in the Turf section alone, there are crusts made from blue cheese and black truffles, as well as bordelaise and béarnaise sauces?</p><p>I know Mr. Duque is talented and he's certainly not alone in Chicago; he's probably hamstrung by a clientele expecting big, bold, beefy flavors. Unfortunately, his menu is my example <em>du jour</em> here. When I asked the publicist about this seemingly obvious disconnect between philosophy and execution, I never got a response. But I would love to know from some experts out there: if you're going to say your kitchen deals in the sustainable, local, seasonal kind of business diners are interested in, what is the threshold? 100%? 50% 10% of your menu?</p></p> Wed, 02 Feb 2011 12:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/what-threshold-sustainable-local-seasonal-restaurant Food Mondays: Raising questions about the organic, local food movement in the West http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/food-mondays-raising-questions-about-organic-local-food-movement-west <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/75540942.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today, we revisit a conversation with <a href="http://www.wellesley.edu/PublicAffairs/Profile/mr/rpaarlberg.html">Robert Paarlberg</a> from earlier this year. He&rsquo;s a professor of political science at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. His latest book is &quot;Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know.&quot;</p><p>Paarlberg takes issue with some of the developing world&rsquo;s more fashionable ideas about food in ways that might surprise you. He says the West&rsquo;s embrace of organic and sustainable farming has eclipsed the bigger problem of poverty and hunger in the developing world.</p></p> Mon, 13 Dec 2010 16:58:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/food-mondays-raising-questions-about-organic-local-food-movement-west Podcast interview with the author of "Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food" http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/podcast-interview-author-four-fish-future-last-wild-food <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="597" width="400" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-October/2010-10-29/Four Fish Cover.jpg" title="" alt="" /></p><p>Paul Greenberg has spent much of his life around fish. &nbsp;A lifelong, avid fisherman himself, his latest book is, in some respects, going to do for seafood what Michael Pollan's &quot;Omnivore's Dilemma&quot; did for factory-raised cows and corn: it will illuminate and educate diners about what is really going on in our food supply system.</p><p>I met Greenberg for a drink at Old Town Social last week, shortly before he was to give a talk to diners at North Pond, where a sustainably-raised seafood dinner was on the agenda. Among other things, we talked about the state of fisheries in the Great Lakes - something he's been studying lately.</p></p> Wed, 03 Nov 2010 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/podcast-interview-author-four-fish-future-last-wild-food