Your NPR news source
woman on tractor at local farm

Natasha Nicholes owns two farms in Chicago’s West Pullman neighborhood with her husband, Shomari.

Courtesy of Natasha Nicholes

The Rundown: Why isn’t more local produce in chain stores?

Hey there, Happy Friday! Daylight saving time ends Sunday at 2 a.m., and I’m not the only one excited about the extra hour of sleep. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Efforts to distribute local produce in big-box stores have mostly fallen apart

Small local farmers tried working with large retailers like Walgreens and Walmart to get their produce on store shelves, especially in neighborhoods without access to supermarkets, but there remains scant signs of local produce in these stores.

As Sandra Guy reports for WBEZ, partnerships fell apart because of the high cost of bringing small agricultural operations into a massive supply chain. Consumer demand has also shifted in favor of value and efficiency, including online purchases and delivery.

Farmers, meanwhile, have pivoted to mobile farmers’ markets, church farm stands and restaurants. [WBEZ]

2. Heating bills are expected to be even worse than last year in the Chicago area

Gas bills are expected to be 30% higher than last year because of rising natural gas prices and ongoing repair work, adding to the financial pressure many households continue to face because of inflation, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Industry analysts say supply disruption, an extreme cold snap in 2021 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine all contribute to booming natural gas prices over the past two years.

In the Chicago area, delivery costs — which fund infrastructure work like pipeline replacements — is also contributing to rising heat prices. [Chicago Tribune]

3. Illinois cops can now choose not to jail people for small amounts of drugs

The new law means people caught with small amounts of drugs won’t have to sit in jail while waiting to be brought before a judge, the Chicago Sun-Times and Better Government Association report.

Advocates say not spending time in jail will help people avoid consequences like losing their jobs or going through withdrawal from drugs.

The Pretrial Fairness Act, which goes into effect Jan. 1, will allow police to release people with a citation that requires appearing in court on a specific day. If the person is held in jail, the law requires them to appear before a judge within two days, after which they would “almost certainly” be released until trial, the Sun-Times and BGA report. [Chicago Sun-Times]

4. Five commonly asked questions about judicial elections

The section on the ballot for judges is lengthy, but as with any election, high voter turnout and making informed decisions ensures a more meaningful and representative outcome.

Luckily, my colleagues at Curious City worked with Injustice Watch to answer last-minute questions about how judicial elections work and where to find more information about the candidates. [Curious City]

And if you’re not sure how and where to vote in next week’s midterm elections, WBEZ has a handy guide to help you out. [WBEZ]

As the elections get closer, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows “a wide and bipartisan majority of Americans worry there is increased danger of politically motivated violence in the United States.” [Washington Post]

5. The Shedd Aquarium revealed the names of its two new otters

The two newest rescued sea otters at the Shedd Aquarium finally have names — Willow and Suri — after weeks of being referred to by numbers.

More than 9,000 people voted for Willow’s name in an online poll last week, and Suri was named by aquarium staff.

“Both names refer to locations along the coast of California where sea otters can be found, with Willow referring to a beach in Monterey County and Suri referring to Big Sur, the rugged and mountainous section of the Central Californian coastline,” staff told the Chicago Sun-Times. “This helps make a connection to the otters’ native habitat and explain why sea otters are a vital part of these marine ecosystems.”

Willow was previously known as “Otter 929” and Suri as “Otter 926.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Employers added 261,000 jobs in October. [New York Times]

  • Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, can’t sell ‘White Lives Matter’ shirts because two Black radio hosts own the trademark. [NPR]

  • Layoffs have begun at Twitter after Elon Musk’s takeover. [New York Times]

  • A Morton Grove family donated what will become Chicago’s Christmas tree this year in Millennium Park. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Oh, and one more thing …

Love it or hate it, daylight saving time ends this weekend. While congress and several states continue to debate whether or not we must change our clocks every spring and fall, Chicago has a weird history with the tradition, my colleague Courtney Kueppers reports.

Back in 1920, aldermen debated for six months before finally approving “the scheme to advance the hands of the clock one hour.” But many surrounding suburbs did not adopt daylight saving time that summer, leading to some interesting commutes.

Fast forward to today, and the Land of Lincoln has nine pending pieces of legislation that would do away with clock switching, but nothing has passed. [WBEZ]

Tell me something good ...

I don’t feel like cooking for Thanksgiving this year, so which local restaurant should I splurge on to celebrate?

David says:

“I found a lovely place in the Edgewater neighborhood for Thanksgiving dinner. It is called ‘A Taste of Heaven’ and it is located on North Clark Street.

I have actually enjoyed their Thanksgiving dinner plate, it was about three weeks ago.

While you’re there, feel free to let your eye wander their ‘miniature bakery’ display: they offer a wide variety of the usual- and some unusual- baked treats.

An excellent place for family or friends to enjoy some ‘fine vittoes from the hearth’ from people who truly make the effort to produce and serve wholesome and engaging comestibles!”

The Latest
Plus, Laurie Metcalf returns to Chicago for Steppenwolf Theatre’s “Little Bear Ridge Road.” Here’s what you need to know today.
Plus, why Wieners Circle is fighting with Portillo’s on social media. Here’s what you need to know today.
Plus, piping plovers Imani and Searocket have laid eggs at Montrose Beach. Here’s what you need to know today.
Plus, Chief Keef’s long-awaited return to Chicago. Here’s what you need to know today.
Plus, the lifespan of a book at the Chicago Public Library. Here’s what you need to know today.