To research her book, Farmers’ Markets of the Heartland, Janine MacLachlan embarked on a road trip across Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. As she met farmers and food artisans, she discovered that the best road food is right at the farmers’ market.
A visit to a farmers’ market is an ideal way to explore local food while on the road. In addition to finding fresh, nourishing food, MacLachlan also met food artisans who sell at farmers markets to build clientele and try new flavors on eager patrons. At the same time these vendors are selling the taste of the soil and establishing strong connections to their individual communities. MacLachlan met farmers raising beef on land that had been in their family since 1820, novice farmers starting out on two acres, a baker with roots in the French Foreign Legion, a sisterhood of chevre across five states, a young farmer who is a booster for the Jimmy Nardello sweet Italian frying pepper, and a couple who started their heritage pork business to nurture their children’s health.
Janine MacLachlan is a food writer and farm groupie who has served as leader of Slow Food Chicago and task force member for Chicago’s Green City Market. She has written for Relish, Cooking Light, Country Home and Tribune publications. She studied at the Culinary Institute of America. Her book, Farmers’ Markets of the Heartland, will be published in 2012 by University of Illinois Press.
This talk was part of the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance‘s fifth annual symposium, “Road Food: Exploring the Midwest One Bite at a Time.” Other events from this symposium recorded by Chicago Amplified—listed in the order they were presented—are as follows:
Marked for Life: My Travels on Route 66 in ‘53, with Terri Ryburn
State Fair Heirloom Recipe Contest, with Catherine Lambrecht
Mobile Food in 19th-Century Chicago, with Peter Engler
Food Trucks: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, with Louisa Chu
Will Success Spoil Regional Food?, with Michael Stern
The Drive-In Restaurant: Before and After the Dawn of Fast Food, Food Theater, with Mary Bergin
A Gopher Turned Badger Eats Hoosier, and Vice Versa: Midwestern Culinary Traditions in the Small-Town Cafe, with Joanne Stuttgen
What Happened to Horseshoes?, with Julianne Glatz
Pies on the Road, with Shirley Cherkasky
Ethnographic Food Writing, or How I Ate My Way Across Wisconsin and Lived to Tell About It, with Joanne Stuttgen
Culinary Tourism in the Land of Meat and Potatoes and Green Bean Casserole, with Lucy M. Long
Summer Vacations in Northern Wisconsin, with Kelly Sears
Born to be Mild: Oral Histories and Pathways of the Midwest Supper Club, with Dave Hoekstra
Farmers Markets of the Heartland, the Ultimate Road Trip, with Janine MacLachlan
On the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, with Clara Orban
Remarks by Marilyn Wilkinson of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art Curator-Led Tour