WBEZ | Food http://www.wbez.org/sections/food Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago's Mexican ice cream shops offer cool innovative treats http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-mexican-ice-cream-shops-offer-cool-innovative-treats-110431 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mangonada.jpg" style="height: 455px; width: 620px; margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px;" title="The mangonada reigns supreme at Chicago’s many neverias. These Mexican ice cream shops have grown exponentially in the Chicago area in recent years. " /></p><p>While some Chicago foodies are still swooning over doughnuts, <a href="http://dominiqueansel.com/cronut-101/">cronuts </a>or wonuts, others have moved on to the sweet treat taking over Chicago&rsquo;s Mexican ice cream shops.</p><p>It&rsquo;s called the <em>mangonada, </em>and if you haven&rsquo;t tried it yet, here&rsquo;s what to expect: cool mango sorbet topped with fresh mango chunks and a sweet salty sauce called chamoy.</p><p>The dessert takes center stage at Chicago&rsquo;s <em>neverias,</em> Mexican ice cream shops whose numbers have ballooned over the last two years. Eladio Montoya opened his first <a href="http://los-mangos.com/">Los Mangos Neveria</a> in 2012, but today he&rsquo;s expanded to seven thriving stores in the Chicago area. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I guess it was something that wasn&rsquo;t discovered before,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;But now that we&rsquo;ve discovered it&rsquo;s a good business, everybody is trying to jump on it.&rdquo;</p><p>Indeed, there are now more than 60 neverias operating in Chicago&rsquo;s city limits and likely just as many more serving nearby suburbs like Aurora, Rolling Meadows, Maywood, Berwyn and Cicero.</p><blockquote><p><strong>MAP: <a href="#map">Where are Chicago&#39;s neverias?</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>Many used to operate as popsicle shops or <em>paleterias</em>. But in recent years they&rsquo;ve expanded into full service snack shops serving sundaes, yogurt parfaits, fruit cups, corn in a cup, and smoothies. Then there are the Dorilocos, a family of snacks that some might recognize as the more colorful cousins of the walking taco. They start with a bag of chips that gets sliced down the side with scissors and then it&#39;s filled with cucumbers, pickled pig skin, crunchy peanuts, hot sauce and more.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/5dM1Hfpvm7s" width="620"></iframe></p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a combination of both worlds,&rdquo; said Rosario Pulido whose family owns a group of neverias called <em>100 Percent Michoacana</em>. &ldquo;Because we have our traditional pico de gallo but then we also love our potato chips like Doritos. So it&rsquo;s just a combination of those two.&rdquo;</p><p>While most neverias offer similar menus, each tries to distinguish itself with signature hybrid dishes. At Los Mangos in Little Village one of those treats is the Honey Bun sundae--yes a honey bun at the bottom of an ice cream sundae.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s just something that we came up with,&rdquo; Montoya said. &ldquo;We pretty much do stuff that we like and we present it to the people and if they like it, we keep it. And I mean, who doesn&rsquo;t like a honey bun?&rdquo;</p><p>While most dishes reflect strong Mexican flavor profiles (blending salty, sour, sweet and spicy), things like the honey bun sundae &ldquo;have been more Americanized,&quot; Pulido says. &quot;But you could say that we all love doughnuts and we all love ice cream, and so it&rsquo;s a combination of both.&rdquo;</p><p>Cynthia Alvarado works at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Paleteria-Y-Neveria-Bombon/182778985257617">Bombon Neveria</a> in Riis Park where they serve a hybrid snack called Elotes Bombon Style. It starts with a choice of Doritos, Fritos, Churritos or Tostitos.</p><p>&ldquo;They all come with corn [cut from the cob] and then you pick the flavor of the sauce you put on it,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Either chile limon, habanero, chipotle or jalapeno. It&rsquo;s like a mayo sauce.&quot; The dish is finished with a topping of bacon or ham and voila!</p><p>Amid all the corn chips and ice cream, neverias also sell a lot of fresh fruit--including papaya, mango, watermelon and pineapple.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s what keeps our business year-round,&rdquo; Montoya says, &ldquo;because we sell fruit-year round and with everybody trying to be healthy, it&rsquo;s really popular.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, he admits it&rsquo;s the ice creams that draw the most customers this time of year. Among his dozens of flavors, you&rsquo;ll find pine nut, mango with chile, egg nog, tequila, cheese, cucumber, bubble gum, guava and more.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PHOTO%208.jpg" style="float: left; height: 180px; width: 320px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="The menu at Paleteria and Neveria BomBon uses pictures and colorful names like Maraca and Trolebuss to illustrate the eclectic offerings. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" />But Montoya says you need more than great ice cream to succeed in this business. You also need funky names like the vampire or <em>vampiro </em>featuring mango ice cream and a blood red sauce or the<em> bionico</em> a bionic blend of cream, fruit, nuts and raisins.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;ve gotta make up names that are catchy and leave people wondering and flying in their minds for a while,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So whenever they get hungry that&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s in their head and they think of us.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Some of those names at BomBon include the enchanted apple and their signature Trolley Bus or trolebuss which Alvarado describes as &ldquo;Fritos with corn then nacho cheese, sour cream and hot sauce.&rdquo;</p><p>Arcoiris in Avondale on Belmont Avenue used to be a paleteria before it expanded like so many others. Today one of its most popular items is the green smoothie full of parsley, cactus, green apple, spinach, cucumber and more.</p><p>The shops seem especially popular with families because, Montoya says, they offer something for everyone. &nbsp;The teenagers might get the Dorilocos but &ldquo;mom will get the fruit and then the kids and the dad and the grandparents will always get the ice cream.&rdquo;</p><p>So what does he recommend for first timers?</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;ve got to try the mangonada, the yogurt with fruit. It&rsquo;s all natural fruit that we dice every morning,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;And then they&rsquo;ve got to try our paletas and ice cream.&rdquo;</p><p>The honey bun sundae, you might want to leave for your second trip.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>SEVEN THINGS TO ORDER</strong></p><p>FOR FRUIT LOVERS: Get a<em> coktel de fruta</em>. A dish of freshly cut jicama, cucumber, papaya, pineapple, mango, pineapple or melon (depending on store) showered in lime juice, chile powder and salt. Tell the server which fruits and toppings you want.</p><p>FOR HEALTH NUTS: Many neverias serve green drinks of spinach, cucumber, parsley, cactus, green apple, yogurt, oats, honey, kiwi and more. Exact ingredients will vary but I love the green blend from Paleteria Arco Iris at 2950 W.&nbsp; Belmont Ave.</p><p>FOR SPICY SNACK LOVERS: Get the Dori-, Taki- or Tostilocos and indicate which toppings you want. The pickled pig skin strips (cueritos) add a vinegary chew but they are not for everyone. The cabbage, cucumber and jicama make you feel almost virtuous while eating chips. The chicharron preparado is similar but uses fake pork rinds instead of chips.</p><p>FOR THE INDULGENT: Try one of the churro, doughnut or honey bun sundaes. Perk it up with innovative ice cream flavors like cheese, cucumber or gooseberry.</p><p>FOR TRADITIONALISTS: Get a strawberry popsicle (often studded with big chunks of strawberry) a scoop of ice cream, mangonada or fruit gazpacho if you don&#39;t mind salty cheese and chile in your orange juice.</p><p>FOR THE MEAL SEEKERS: Many neverias serve sandwiches called tortas along with fresh fruit drinks called <em>raspas </em>or <em>raspados.</em></p><p>FOR ASBESTOS MOUTHS: Try a <em>diablito</em> (or little devil) which blends fruit, juice and LOTS of chile.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Map: Chicago&#39;s neverias<a name="map"></a></span></p><p><span style="font-size:14px;">Update: Thanks to <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/1466432036936124/">Summer Paleta Crawl</a> for letting us know about a few places missing from the original map.</span></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="300" scrolling="no" src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?q=select+col7+from+1LF3rcsX8yRrpNqgSaInQwmaV6Mz3FXHtZ3URy5NR&amp;viz=MAP&amp;h=false&amp;lat=41.867546139885&amp;lng=-87.73225747014222&amp;t=1&amp;z=10&amp;l=col7&amp;y=3&amp;tmplt=3&amp;hml=KML" width="620"></iframe></p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> <em>@monicaeng</em></a> <em>or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 07:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-mexican-ice-cream-shops-offer-cool-innovative-treats-110431 Chicago Food Swap lets foodies diversify their diet http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-food-swap-lets-foodies-diversify-their-diet-110353 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/swap.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>While most of us stock our kitchens from grocery stores or farmers markets this time of year, hundreds of Chicagoans have found another way to fill their larders--by trading homemade treats at <a href="http://www.chicagofoodswap.com/" target="_blank">Chicago Food Swaps</a>.</p><p>Last month, at a little store in Oak Park, dozens of amateur cooks showed up with boxes of pastries and pickles and hearts full of expectations.</p><p>Ian Fecke-Stoudt started the event with several little servings of chipotle peanuts, pickled red onions, vegan dog treats, saffron salts and double chocolate ginger snaps.</p><p>But by the time the event was over, the Humboldt Park vegan&rsquo; had his bags jammed full of lot more.</p><p>&ldquo;We got pickled mushrooms, jam and mustard, pickled ramps, sunflower seed butter, focaccia, almond milk, vegan chocolate peanut butter fudge, apple tahini, chia pudding, mango coconut muesli and lots of other stuff,&rdquo; he reported.</p><p>Fecke-Stoudt is part of Chicago&rsquo;s enthusiastic food swapping community. They&rsquo;re a group of friendly do-it-yourselfers who meet at different locations to trade their wares each month. Some are former kitchen pros, but most just have a passion for cooking (sometimes too much) and want to share what they have. <a href="http://www.westoftheloop.com/" target="_blank">West of the Loop</a> blogger Emily Paster said she decided to launch the swap a few years ago,&nbsp; after reading about one in Philadelphia.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m kind of that person with the basement full of jams and pickles, more than any family could eat,&rdquo; she admitted, &ldquo; And so as soon as I read about it I thought &lsquo;I have to do that because then I could actually do something with all this jam and my husband will stop giving me a hard time&rsquo;.&rdquo;&nbsp;The May event was a specialized vegan swap, but the offerings are usually all over the map. And Paster says that this helps home cooks fill in their culinary gaps.</p><p>&ldquo;So I&rsquo;m a big canner,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But I&rsquo;m scared of yeast.&nbsp; Like I can&rsquo;t do yeast bread, too scary. So I love to come in and get some amazing artisan bread.&rdquo;</p><p>But for swapper Linsey Herman, it&rsquo;s also about meeting new people and trying new things.</p><p>&ldquo;I like the community aspect and I like the idea that some people take the idea of the swap very seriously,&rdquo; the former professional cook said. &ldquo;There was a family who are not vegan but studied up on vegan cuisine and they took some really interesting risks and they had great results with a a fudge and a seitan. You do get to try a cornucopia of products and you never know what people are going to bring.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>But what about food safety? Paster says that swappers are instructed to use their best hygienic practices but she warns that there are no guarantees.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re the kind of person who is sort of skeeved out by the idea of eating food someone else prepared it may not be for you,&rdquo; Paster said. &ldquo;I think some people take comfort in the fact that you get to talk to the people who made it and so it&rsquo;s like going to the farmers market in that regard. You can ask the questions if you do have dietary restrictions or an allergy. But it may not be for everyone. If you are super strict vegan or have celiac disease, it may not be for you. We would do our best to accommodate you, but it is a little bit of an assumption of risk.&rdquo;</p><p>Although it varies by state, food swaps aren&rsquo;t regulated by health or business authorities in Illinois. They technically operate as private get-togethers where no money changes hands. And while the concept may seem weird and novel to Chicagoans, it couldn&rsquo;t be older. In fact, trading for food was one of the earliest forms of food procurement. And it&rsquo;s never gone out of style in many rural areas.</p><p>Tara O&rsquo;Loughlin comes Northwest Indiana into the Chicago swaps, where her turkey and duck eggs are kind of no big deal.</p><p>&ldquo;But the duck egg seem to be so popular here,&rdquo; she said displaying her last dozen of the large eggs great for pastry and noodlemaking, &ldquo;People really have gone crazy over them. That&rsquo;s why it was fun to meet Emily here and meet people who love duck eggs so much.&rdquo;</p><p>So how does a food swap work? Each month (it went monthly last year) Paster posts the location and date of the next swap on the Chicago Food Swap site. Folks register to attend and the list is closed when it reaches capacity (this month at about 70). Once there, swappers set up at tables and browse and sample during the first 30 minutes.</p><p>When Paster gives the start signal, &ldquo;things get a little crazy,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s like letting the horses out of the gate.&quot;</p><p>Some people stand by their goods fielding offers while others wander around making deals. Most of these deals go through but some don&rsquo;t. Fecke-Stoudt explains that, as a vegan, trades can be tricky.</p><p>&ldquo;Sometimes people want our kale chips because they&rsquo;re paleo,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;but they have something with lots of meat and other animal byproducts and...&rdquo;</p><p>Other deals go sour if one swapper feels the others product isn&rsquo;t worth as much.&ldquo;So sometimes we&rsquo;ll trade two small things for one big thing,&rdquo; Fecke-Stoudt said.&nbsp;</p><p>For those thinking of attending their first swap, Paster offers a list of tips on her site. And if you want to be the belle of the swap, she suggests going savory.</p><p>&ldquo;There is often a heavy emphasis on cupcakes, brownies, quick breads and caramels and they are often too good to pass up,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But for that reason savory does very well. If people bring soups or tabouleh or little mini quiches that they could eat for lunch the next day, those are very hot.&rdquo;</p><p>If you ask 10 swappers about their best food trade, you&rsquo;ll probably get 10 different answers. Gena Boehm of Libertyville, said she had this very discussion around the dinner table the other night.</p><p>&ldquo;The kids said that it was red velvet cup cakes,&rdquo; Boehm said. &ldquo;My son loved some preserved peaches we got last summer and my husband and I thought we had some really amazing bread one time last year. It&rsquo;s always different. If you ask me six months from now it will be something else.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>The Chicago Food Swap will be held at Sur La Table in downtown Chicago on June 29.&nbsp; This gives you just enough time to perfect those mini quiches, that cabbage kimchi or mango muesli recipe you always wanted to swap and share.</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-196e5857-a6e0-3796-f705-73efcdb988f8"><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> @monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-food-swap-lets-foodies-diversify-their-diet-110353 Global Activism: Helping the people and ecosystem of Guatemala's cloud forests http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-helping-people-and-ecosystem-guatemalas-cloud-forests-110287 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cloud forest_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><a href="http://www.cloudforestconservation.org/">Community Cloud Forest Conservation</a> (CCFC) works to alleviate poverty and protect Guatemala&rsquo;s tropical cloud forests. They support projects that include reforestation, agricultural biodiversity, education and bird monitoring. CCFC also teamed up with local bird conservationists like <a href="http://chicagoregion.audubon.org/">Audobon Chicago Region</a>, to protect the winter homes of birds that migrate between Guatemala and Chicago. For our Global Activism segment, Founder and director Rob Cahill gives us an update on what he calls &ldquo;the great progress&rdquo; his group has made in the last few months.</div><iframe width="100%" height="450" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/152998102&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true"></iframe></p> Thu, 05 Jun 2014 11:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-helping-people-and-ecosystem-guatemalas-cloud-forests-110287 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 Grilled meats serve up dangerous compounds, but you can avoid some http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/grilled-meats-serve-dangerous-compounds-you-can-avoid-some-110214 <p><p>For many, Memorial Day weekend means it&rsquo;s finally time to bust out two things: the white shoes and blackened meats.&nbsp;</p><p>American dads may take pride in their cross-hatch grill marks, but those juicy, charred slabs of meat are coming under incresing scrutiny for the dangerous compounds they develop when protein meets dry blazing heat.</p><p>These include heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and advanced glycation end products or HCAs, PAHs and AGEs.</p><p>Peter Guengerich is a biochemistry professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He&rsquo;s been studying HCAs and PAHs for 25 years, and he says that, on their own, the compounds aren&#39;t all that dangerous.</p><p>&ldquo;But our bodies have enzyme systems that convert these into reactive compounds,&rdquo; Guengerich said. &ldquo;Things that get stuck irreversibly on your DNA and can cause mutations and potentially cancer, most commonly colon cancer.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s important to note that this has little to do with charcoal vs. gas or other fuels.</p><p>Dr Jaime Uribarri of Mount Sinai Medical Center says what matters are the AGEs &mdash; the crispy, browned, tasty bits that form on the outside of grilled meat and other foods.&nbsp; In the kitchen they&rsquo;re considered flavor, but in most medical labs, Uribarri says, they&rsquo;re linked to inflammation that causes &ldquo;diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, dementia and essentially most of the chronic medical conditions of modern times.&rdquo;</p><p>In fact, recent Mount Sinai research shows that mice fed a diet high in AGEs &mdash; similar to a Western diet &mdash; developed marked cognitive decline and precursors to Alzheimers disease and diabetes. Those fed a low-AGE diet were free of those conditions.&nbsp;</p><p>So does this mean an end to the all-American cookout?&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;If it is something done only once a year it may not be that bad,&rdquo; Uribarri says.</p><p>Only once a year?</p><p>Professor Guengerich won&rsquo;t go that far, but he does urge moderation.</p><p>&ldquo;Well basically if you only eat these things occasionally, [I&rsquo;m] probably not too concerned,&rdquo; the biochemist said. &ldquo;But if you are making a habit of eating these things every other day, grilled at high temperatures, you probably should think about it a little bit more.&rdquo;</p><p>But before you put away the Weber you should know there are lots of ways to cut down on these compounds at your barbecue.</p><p>To reduce the AGE&rsquo;s, Uribarri suggests a few things.</p><p>&ldquo;Make sure the meat is not left for very long periods of time on the grill,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Whenever possible, the meat should be marinated or freshened with juices during the cooking. And simultaneously, eat a lot of fruits vegetables and things that will kind of antagonize the bad effects of these compounds.&rdquo;</p><p>These would include antioxidant rich foods like blueberries, pomegranates and cherries &mdash; one Michigan butcher even blends them into his burger meat.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/blueberries.jpg" title="Eating antioxidant rich foods like blueberries, cherries and pomegranates with grilled foods may help reduce the harmful effects of grilling byproducts. (WBEZ/MONICA ENG) " /></div><p>Studies also show that marination in wine, vinegar or lemon juice can lower the meat&rsquo;s pH and cut way down on the formation of AGE and HCA. Another study shows that rubbing meat with fresh rosemary can cut HCA development most entirely.</p><p>Guengerich says you should also cover your grill with foil to avoid carcinogenic flare ups that produce PAHs on the surface.</p><p>&ldquo;And if you are particularly concerned you can preheat [the meat] in a microwave and get the juice out,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Then take it out and put it on the grill and you&rsquo;ll actually reduce your exposure by about 90 percent and you won&rsquo;t lose that much in the way of taste either.&rdquo;</p><p>Then there&rsquo;s the low-tech method of simply scraping off what Guengerich calls &quot;the black crud&quot; from the outside of your food. Those grill marks are rich in these carcinogenic compounds.<br /><br />Fans of cole slaw, broccoli and Brussels sprouts may also have more leeway. One study found that regular consumption of these cruciferous vegetables can help clear DNA damage wrought by the grilling process.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>And finally, Uribarri suggests simply swapping the dry high heat cooking for gentler water based methods most of the time.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;So take for example a piece of meat,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;You put it on the grill to cook for half an hour, you generate so many AGEs. Then you take the same piece of meat, but now you put it under a lot of water to cook as a stew, you generate much much fewer. &ldquo;&nbsp;</p><p>This may be effective, but will anyone really want to come over to your house this summer for a burger boil?</p><p>Wiviott doesn&rsquo;t think so.<br /><br />&ldquo;No one wants to eat nine ounces of poached chicken or turkey breast,&rdquo; the pitmaster of Barn &amp; Company says.</p><p>&quot;Conversely, if you grill it and you have texture and crunch and flavor and salt and fat, that&rsquo;s when something really tastes good.&quot;</p><p>Wiviott is the author of &ldquo;Low and Slow: Master the Art of Barbecue in FIve Easy Lessons.&rdquo; And he finds&nbsp; it hard to swallow all the recent science deriding his favorite foods.</p><p>&quot;In my lifetime, I&rsquo;ve seen coffee be not good for you; now it&rsquo;s good for you. Red wine not good for you; now it&rsquo;s good for you.&nbsp; Butter, pig fat. Margarine was good for you and now it&rsquo;s not,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I mean, since the cavemen started cooking, people have cooked their meat over an open fire and we&rsquo;re still around. So I can&rsquo;t imagine that it&rsquo;s all that bad for you&hellip;.Plus, it&rsquo;s absolutely delicious.&quot;</p><p>So does this mean you have to choose between boiled meat or colon cancer? Between long life and a char-striped hot dog?</p><p>&ldquo;Well it is a carcinogen,&rdquo; Guengerich says. &ldquo;But I don&rsquo;t want people to have a guilty conscience or feel like they are going to get cancer tomorrow. Just be moderate about your consumption of anything. Grilled foods included.&quot;</p><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Farmers-market-cabbage.jpg" style="width: 620px;" title="Regular consumption of cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts can help clear DNA damage from byproducts of grilled meats. (WBEZ/MONICA ENG) " /></div><p><strong>Tips for Reducing Grilled Food Dangers</strong></p><p>If you don&rsquo;t want to give up grilling meat all together, experts say, there are several ways to reduce the formation and your consumption of heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and advanced glycation end products. Here are some of them:</p><ul><li>Pre-cook your meat in a pot of water, a low-temperature oven or microwave before finishing briefly on the grill.</li><li>Cover grill with foil to reduce drips and flare ups, which produce PAHs, or consider wrapping your meat in foil before placing it on the grill.&nbsp;</li><li>Marinate meat with vinegar, lemon juice or wine for at least 10 minutes before grilling. This can alter its pH, thus reducing the formation of AGEs during cooking.</li><li>Rub your meat with rosemary or other antioxidant rich fresh herbs before cooking.</li><li>Before eating, scrape off the carcinogenic &ldquo;black crud&rdquo; that may develop on meat or other foods during grilling.</li><li>Remove browned and blackened chicken skin before eating.</li><li>Eat cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables on a regular basis to provide your body with sulforaphane, which has been known to help clear DNA damaging compounds more quickly.</li><li>Eat antioxidant rich, deeply colored fruits and vegetables with your grilled meats to help counter the effects of the compounds.&nbsp;</li><li>Consider a weenie boil rather than a weenie roast. You will produce many fewer AGEs in the process.&nbsp;</li></ul></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 21 May 2014 11:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/grilled-meats-serve-dangerous-compounds-you-can-avoid-some-110214 Chicago's street food vendors get a shot at legalization http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-street-food-vendors-get-shot-legalization-110169 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Fruit-cup.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On a typical morning in Chicago&rsquo;s Little Village, you can find a vendor named Maria waking early and packing her cart full of watermelons, mangoes, melons, pineapples, cucumbers, jicama, limes and more.<br />&nbsp;<br />Throughout the day, she&rsquo;ll take them out of the cooler and slice them into colorful fruit cups that are finished with a shower of fresh lime and spices.&nbsp;<br /><br />From her little corner stand, Maria also sells bags of potato chips and artificial pork rinds.<br /><br />But can you guess which one of her snacks the city considers the biggest threat to public health?</p><p>If you guessed fried chips, you&rsquo;d be wrong.<br /><br />According to Chicago Department of Public Health, cutting fresh fruits and vegetables on a cart constitutes a health code violation.</p><p>&ldquo;Once the fruit is cut, it becomes adulterated,&rdquo; said the department&rsquo;s Brian Richardson. &ldquo;In order to serve, it must be kept stored at the right temperature and it must have been washed using the same methods that they would at a brick and mortar restaurant. And most carts are not equipped with handwashing at the levels that are required by the health department.&rdquo;</p><p>This issue has long prevented the legalization of Chicago eloteros (corn on the cob sellers) who&rsquo;ve worked Chicago streets for decades, but always with a cloud of uncertainty.</p><p>&ldquo;Every time they go out to sell, they&rsquo;re scared,&rdquo; said Vickie Lugo, vice president of the Asociacion de Vendadores Ambulantes (mobile vendors association). &ldquo;They are scared that they might be stopped by the police or get ticketed or even get arrested, which has has happened several times in the past. And the fines have been up to $1,000, and in certain occasions, up to $1,500.&rdquo;<br /><br />Despite years of pushing cart legalization efforts, the city and pushcart vendors have remained at a decades-long impasse.<br /><br />Enter the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship, a civil liberties law firm that works out of the University of Chicago law school. Earlier this month, IJ director Beth Kregor unveiled a compromise plan.<br /><br />&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve written up an ordinance that would allow vendors to sell all manner of food as long as they&rsquo;ve prepared it in advance in a proper kitchen and as long as it has been licensed and inspected by the city,&rdquo; Kregor said.<br /><br />The proposal would require all food to be pre-packaged rather than prepared on the street and it would include licensing fees of about $250 a year. That&rsquo;s all before the kitchen rental expenses.</p><p>Kregor said says she&rsquo;s been working closely for months with aldermen and the Health Department to tackle their concerns early in the proposal process. The proposal, to date, lacks a aldermanic sponsor to introduce it in the City Council, but Kregor says several have shown their support.</p><p>Chief among them is 20th Ward Alderman Willie B. Cochran, who has been part of the legalization effort for years.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Having safe dining options is must, but it is also a must to ensure that people are given the opportunity to develop business and provide for themselves and make it convenient for people who are looking for quality food products,&rdquo; Cochran said. &ldquo;It will give us an opportunity to expand kitchens that can support these products and (to) businesses and it will give an opportunity for the employed to be employed.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Cochran is referring to the hundreds of licensed prep kitchens that would need to spring up all over Chicago to accommodate the current crop of vendors who number around 1,500. Kregor says this could bring in new revenue to existing facilities like churches whose kitchens could help fill the void.</p><p>Lugo admits that the legalization comes with drawbacks: the licensing and rental fees, the waste possibly created by pre-package products that may not sell, and the loss of the live cooking demonstration that ensues each time a fruit cup is ordered.&nbsp;<br /><br />While these changes may be necessary to get a ordinance passed, some question its importance for public health. The Chicago Park District has licensed these same vendors to operate on park property without incident for years. &ldquo;But,&rdquo; as Kregor noted, &ldquo;across the street from a park on the sidewalk it&rsquo;s completely forbidden.&rdquo;<br /><br />Still, for Maria, the compromise may be worth it.</p><p>&ldquo;This license will allow us to sell our products without being bothered by the police and being ticketed,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s good.&rdquo;&nbsp;<br />With warm summer days on the horizon, more vendors will be returning to their regular Chicago corners. And Kregor says they could be doing it legally by the end of the year if she finds a sponsor.<br /><br />Although the current focus is on eloteros and vendors who sell fresh fruit, Kregor and her IJ colleague Michael Lanahan says their proposal would legalize all sorts of small food cart vendors.</p><p>&ldquo;It might be dumplings, It might be cookies, corn on the cob or tamales,&rdquo; she said at a recent Rogers Park meeting to gather support for the plan.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;As long as it meets the baseline of being prepared in a licensed kitchen, packaged and kept at the right temperature, then flavors away anything can happen,&rdquo; Lanahan said.<br /><br />So why does Chicago still lag so far behind Chicago on street food offerings?<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve struggled to understand why it&rsquo;s so hard for Chicago to embrace street food when every other city in the world thrives on street food,&rdquo; Kregor said. &ldquo;What would New York be without roasted chestnuts in the winter? What would Paris be without crepes on the go?...Chicago seems to be abnormally obsessed with keeping the streets clean, but its really hard to understand.&rdquo;<br /><br />If passed, Kregor says her proposal could deliver a fresh new smorgasbord of legal street food to city. And, to many, that would be a welcome change over the same stale impasse that has branded fruit cups as contraband for far too long.<br /><br /><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Tue, 13 May 2014 10:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-street-food-vendors-get-shot-legalization-110169 Gaza's 'OneVoice' Movement believes in and works for Two-State Solution with Israel http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-05-12/gazas-onevoice-movement-believes-and-works-two-state-solution-israel <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/onevoice palestine web.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Polls report that West Bank Palestinians are extremely skeptical about a two-state solution with Israel, but in Gaza, support is practically non-existent. We&rsquo;ll talk with Ezzeldeen Masri, director of the Gaza program for &#39;<a href="http://www.onevoicemovement.org/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">OneVoice</a>&#39;. It&rsquo;s a movement of Gazans who support and work for a two-state solution with Israel. They claim their movement is growing.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-gaza-s-onevoice-movement-works-for-a-two/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-gaza-s-onevoice-movement-works-for-a-two.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-gaza-s-onevoice-movement-works-for-a-two" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Gaza's 'OneVoice' movement works for a Two-State solution with Israel" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 12 May 2014 11:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-05-12/gazas-onevoice-movement-believes-and-works-two-state-solution-israel Who makes Chicago's Top 5 croissants? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/who-makes-chicagos-top-5-croissants-110110 <p><p>If you can&rsquo;t make it to Paris but still long for a rich buttery croissant, you don&rsquo;t have to look far in Chicago.</p><p>That wasn&rsquo;t always the case. For decades, we suffered a terrible deficit of decent French bakeries. But in recent years and months, Chicago has seen the opening of<a href="http://www.eclair-bakery.com/welcome/"> Eclair Patisserie</a> in Andersonville, &nbsp;<a href="http://www.laboulangeriechicago.com/">La Boulangerie</a> in Lakeview,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cellardoorprovisions.com/#welcome">Cellar Door Provisions</a>&nbsp;in Avondale,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.vanillepatisserie.com/home.php">Vanille Patisserie</a> in Lincoln Park and most recently,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.beurrage.com">Beurrage in Pilsen</a>. A Chicago location of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lepainquotidien.com/store/gold-coast/#.U1qIPVdnBno">Le Pain Quotidien</a> is also set to open any day now in the Gold Coast.</p><p>Even&nbsp;<a href="http://www.starbucks.com/menu/food/bakery/butter-croissant?foodZone=9999">Starbucks</a> got in on French bakery act when it launched its own not-so-shabby line of croissants here last fall.</p><p>So what does this mean for Chicago croissant lovers? That depends on whom you talk to.</p><p>My<em> Chewing the Fat</em> co-host Louisa Chu is not impressed by the Chicago offerings, which she deems just &ldquo;OK.&rdquo; As Louisa OFTEN reminds me, she lived and cooked in Paris for years, and is consequently, &ldquo;spoiled.&rdquo;</p><p>When I suggested that she lighten up and join me on a quest to find five really delicious croissants in the city, she scoffed and said something like &ldquo;c&rsquo;est impossible!.&rdquo;</p><p>So, after we finished interviewing Beurrage baker Jeffrey Hallenback (whose croissants Louisa likes) on a recent Saturday, I set off with my 10-year-old daughter to find buttery bliss.</p><p>I started with a list of recommendations from foodies, colleagues and Facebook friends and quickly nibbled it down to 10 that I could munch in the next week. Facebook commenters suggested some that I didn&rsquo;t get to including those from Ely&rsquo;s Pancake House (four locations), Bon Jour Bakery in Hyde Park and St. Roger Abbey in Vernon Hills. &nbsp;</p><p>When all was said and done, we had a tie for No. 1 because Louisa only voted for one. I found four more that I would proudly serve on my table. They ran between $2.50 and $3.50 and all are worth it for the occasional decadent morning meal. Here they are:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CROISSANT%20beurrage.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Beurrage in Pilsen makes croissants with home churned butter from Jersey cows. Louisa chose it as her favorite in Chicago. (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></div><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-bc880e77-b422-4a8d-22bc-f3a001e1099a">1. <a href="http://beurragechicago.com">Beurrage</a>: Supremely flakey with dough full of character building housemade cultured butter.</p><p dir="ltr">and</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CROISSANT%20FRITZ.jpg" style="height: 436px; width: 620px;" title="Fritz Pastry’s ultra rich croissant tied for No. 1 in a recent Chewing the Fat croissant tasting. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></div><p><a href="http://fritzpastry.com">Fritz Pastry</a>: Well-browned, complexly flavored croissants that are so criminally rich and buttery that you&rsquo;ll look around for the cops as you eat them. We think the ham and cheese version are THE best handheld breakfast in Chicago. &nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CROISSANT%20cellar%20door%281%29.jpg" style="height: 426px; width: 620px;" title="Cellar Door Provisions makes a croissant with an aggressively browned exterior and soft tender interior. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></div><p>2. <a href="http://www.cellardoorprovisions.com/" target="_blank">Cellar Door Provisions</a>: Aggressively browned with a nutty exterior and light eggy center.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CROISSANT%20la%20vanille.jpg" style="height: 530px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>3. <a href="http://www.vanillepatisserie.com/home.php" target="_blank">Vanille Patisserie</a>: Restrained browning, but a buttery and pleasantly sweet center.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CROISSANT%20la%20boulangerie.jpg" title="" /></div><p>4.<a href="http://www.laboulangeriechicago.com/" target="_blank">La Boulangerie</a>: Not gorgeous but full of a flakey but dense and flavorful dough.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/eclair%20choco%20croissant.jpg" title="Eclair Patisserie has been selling retail out of Urban Orchard in Andersonville. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></div><p>5. <a href="http://www.eclair-bakery.com/" target="_blank">Éclair Patisserie</a>: Delicate and buttery and we love the striping on the pain au chocolat and the little bag of 5 to go.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/chewing-fat-podcast-louisa-chu-and-monica-eng">Chewing the Fat</a>&nbsp;podcast. Follow her at&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a>&nbsp;or write to her at&nbsp;<a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a></em></p></p> Wed, 30 Apr 2014 14:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/who-makes-chicagos-top-5-croissants-110110 Organic foods sold by Walmart create fear among some organic farmers and farm advocates http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/organic-foods-sold-walmart-create-fear-among-some-organic-farmers-and-farm-advocates <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/beans.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On a bustling Saturday morning at Chicago&rsquo;s Green City Farmers Market, shoppers fill their canvas bags with organic grains, sauces, pasta and jams. These are staples of the Midwest winter farmers market season.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>But they also make up the bulk of Walmart&rsquo;s new Wild Oats <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/business/walmart-to-offer-organic-line-of-food-at-cut-rate-prices.html" target="_blank">organic line of pantry staples</a>--staples the retailer promises to price at about 25 percent lower than its competitors. Several items, including beans and olive oil, have already hit local shelves.</p><p>This kind of affordable organic has been the theoretical dream of the sustainable food community for decades. So then why is the move being greeted by so much suspicion?</p><p>&nbsp;Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse and one of the nation&rsquo;s biggest cheerleaders for organic seasonal food, has real questions about who will be hurt in the quest for cheaper organic.</p><p>&ldquo;It definitely scares me,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I really feel like, when we are talking about cheap food, that somebody, somewhere is not being paid. And I am pretty certain that the person who is not being paid is the person raising that animal and tending that farm.&rdquo;</p><p>When WBEZ asked Walmart how it planned to source the organic materials for this discounted line, the retailer responded with a statement that:</p><p>&ldquo;We are working with Wild Oats to create a surety of demand which ultimately helps us pass along savings to our customers. We using our scale to deliver quality organic groceries to our customers for less.&rdquo;</p><p>But this equation of greater demand producing lower prices doesn&rsquo;t add up for folks like organic farmer Harry Carr of Mint Creek Farm in East Central Illinois.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s got everybody a bit perplexed,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t make sense. I just can&rsquo;t see Walmart proactively choosing to improve the quality of their food and picking up the price differential because they are nice guys. We know that historically Walmart&rsquo;s strategy has been to price other retailers out of the market with their size and scope and economies of scale. They took away our main streets in exchange for big boxes and I don&rsquo;t think people look upon that very kindly.&rdquo;</p><p>Wild Oats CEO Tom Casey says he understands the confusion about how higher demand could create lower prices. But he says the farmers pay is only a small part of the food equation.<br />He notes the real savings will come from streamlining the now fragmented manufacturing, distribution and retail stages of the organic food chain.</p><p>Author and food journalist Ruth Reichl is also skeptical about sourcing, but she can see some real benefits to the move.</p><p>&ldquo;For all the people who want to eat organic food and don&rsquo;t want pesticides and so forth, it&rsquo;s a good thing,&rdquo; Reichl says. &ldquo;I think for down the road, for making organics mainstream it&rsquo;s a very good thing. But I think for small farmers who are now raising organic food it could prove disastrous. I think they way they are going to end up doing this is industrial organic and probably a lot of imported organic food.&rdquo;</p><p>Casey won&rsquo;t say what percentage of imported organic will go into Walmart&rsquo;s Wild Oats line but he acknowledges: &ldquo;there are certain products that are difficult to source effectively in the US right now. So we have a limited number of products we source internationally, but that would be typical of anybody sourcing organic products&hellip;.The key is that these products are organic certified and they have to meet these requirements no matter who&rsquo;s producing them.&rdquo;</p><p>While some worry that these discounted organics will put small organic family farmers out of business, Casey says that Walmart is simply trying to offer &ldquo;more choices.&rdquo;<br /><br />Jim Slama,&nbsp; president of Family Farmed.org, says he&rsquo;s not worried about the effect on small farmers because he believes they serve a totally different marketplace.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I think that someone growing on a family farm is going to be selling at a farmers market or maybe to local restaurants who will pay higher prices or maybe to Whole Foods or Marianos,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;But there is no way they have the scale to sell to Walmart and they are not going to take their price.&rdquo;</p><p>Plus, Slama says, there are real upsides for the environment if Walmart&rsquo;s demand pushes more farmers to adopt organic practices. These would require them to meet standards that preserve the quality of soil and water.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s going to transition quite a bit more land from conventional to organic because its providing new very large markets for organic products,&rdquo; he says.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Harry Rhodes, who directs a group of Chicago organic farms called Growing Home, also sees pluses in Walmart&rsquo;s new organic push.<br />&ldquo;The more organic options everywhere lead to healthier food choices,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;So I think it&rsquo;s a win-win. I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s competition or danger to anything we&rsquo;re doing.&rdquo;</p><p>Sean Shatto is the CSA manager for Tomato Mountain Organic. He was at Green City Market last weekend selling tomato sauces, CSA shares and spinach. For now, he takes the long view.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It might turn people on to paying more attention to their food---maybe,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;And if that happens, then they might say, &lsquo;well I got this organic spinach at Walmart, maybe I&rsquo;ll go down to the farmers market to see what they&rsquo;ve got.&rsquo; Their jaw will drop the first time they walk by and see that my spinach is $10 a pound. But then I will hand them a leaf and it will taste 10 times better than what they are getting for a $1 a pound at Walmart. And then hopefully they&rsquo;ll come back.&rdquo;</p><p>With so little information about how the food will be sourced and how consumers will react, it&rsquo;s hard, even for critics, to draw firm conclusions. But Reichl says that one thing is certain.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to change the landscape for organics enormously,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Being an optimist, I would say that in the future, this is going to be good. But for right now it scares me.&rdquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the&nbsp;</em><em><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/chewing-fat-podcast-louisa-chu-and-monica-eng">Chewing the Fat</a></strong></em><em>&nbsp;podcast. Follow her at&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a>&nbsp;or write to her at&nbsp;</em><em><a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a></em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/organic-foods-sold-walmart-create-fear-among-some-organic-farmers-and-farm-advocates Senator Kirk joins Revolution in backing Small BREW Act http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/senator-kirk-joins-revolution-backing-small-brew-act-110068 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/photo_42.JPG" alt="" /><p></p> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/senator-kirk-joins-revolution-backing-small-brew-act-110068