Posts Tagged ‘Local/Regional Foods’
Donate Your Product to Help Feed Hungry People in Your Community – In this difficult economy, more and more people are struggling to put food on the table. There are hungry people in every community in this state – 1 in 7 people in Illinois don’t have access to adequate, nutritious food. Our network of food banks can help you get your donations to families in need.
Food donations are tax deductible and not just for C corporations. Under the Food Provision in the Pension Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-280, Section 1202) tax benefits were extended to small businesses, farmers and ranchers.
We will pick up the produce – Within 24 hours of your call, arrangements will be made for pick-up. When you call, your food bank will need to know:
• Product type or types, if mixed load• Quantity (1 pallet minimum), location and how the product is packed
• Approximate amount of waste, as a %, that can be expected
Contact the food bank in your community:
Central Illinois Foodbank, Kristy Gilmore, 2000 E Moffat, Springfield, IL 62791, (217) 522-4022 , email@example.com. Counties Served: Adams, Bond, Brown, Cass, Christian, Effingham, Fayette, Greene, Jefferson, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Marion, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, Pike, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Shelby
Eastern Illinois Foodbank, Matt Pieper, 2405 North Shore Drive, Urbana, IL 61802,(217) 328-3663,firstname.lastname@example.org . Counties Served: Champaign, Clark, Clay, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Iroquois, Jasper, Moultrie, Piatt, Vermilion
Greater Chicago Food Depository, Gerry Maguire, 4100 W Anne Lurie Place, Chicago, IL 60632, (773) 843-2607, email@example.com. Counties Served: Cook
Northern Illinois Food Bank, Gary Knuth, 273 Dearborn Ct, Geneva, IL 601341, (630) 443-6910 x140, firstname.lastname@example.org. Counties Served: Boone, Dekalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, Will, Winnebago
Peoria Area Food Bank, Jeanette Wennmacher, 721 W McBean, Peoria, IL 61605, (309) 671-3906, email@example.com. Counties Served: DeWitt, Fulton, Livingston, Mason, McLean, Peoria, Tazewell, Woodward
River Bend Foodbank, Tom Laughlin, 309 12th St, Moline, IL 61265, (309) 764-7434, firstname.lastname@example.org. Counties Served: Bureau, Carroll, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Jo Davies, Knox, LaSalle, Lee, Marshall, McDonough, Mercer, Putnam, Rock Island, Stark, Warren, Whiteside
St. Louis Area Foodbank, Shannon O’Connor, 70 Corporate Woods Drive, Bridgeton, MO 63044, (314) 227-3738, email@example.com. Counties Served: Calhoun, Clinton, Franklin, Jackson, Jersey, Madison, Monroe, Perry, Randolph, St. Clair, Washington, Williamson
Tri-State Foodbank, Tamela Dane, 801 East Michigan Street, Evansville, IN 47711-5631, (812) 425-0775, firstname.lastname@example.org. Counties Served: Alexander, Edwards, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Johnson, Lawrence, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, Richland, Saline, Union, Wabash, Wayne, White
The first recipients of the National Food MarketMaker Innovation Awards are Ohio and South Carolina. The awards, sponsored by Farm Credit, were presented June 27 in Pittsburgh, PA at the National Value Added Agriculture Conference.
MarketMaker, an online marketing resource that connects food producers with markets, invited all of the participating states to submit proposals which highlighted their innovative efforts. Farm Credit Council led a committee that included food and agricultural stakeholder groups to select the winning states. Ohio and South Carolina each received $7,000 from Farm Credit.
“Ohio’s program ‘Get Connected with Ohio MarketMaker’ demonstrated strong food industry partnerships and doubled the number of registered MarketMaker business profiles in Ohio by uniting seven organizations,” said University of Illinois marketing specialist Darlene Knipe. “The creation of ‘Get Connected’ artwork and marketing resources will benefit the entire National MarketMaker network of states.”
The National website is located at: www.foodmarketmaker.com. The site currently includes 16 participating states plus Washington, D.C., with Texas and Alabama in the development stage.
“South Carolina’s program ‘Helping MarketMaker “Float” in U.S. Coastal States and Beyond’ won the award for the unique partnership between Clemson University and the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium Extension program to develop a pilot seafood component,” Knipe said. “It evolved into a national component. This effort diversified MarketMaker product offerings, engaged new producers and consumers in the MarketMaker network, and contributed to the expansion of MarketMaker into several new coastal states.”
Representing Farm credit Council at the awards ceremony was Gary Matteson, vice president of Farm Credit’s Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs and Outreach.
“It’s impressive to see how resourceful each MarketMaker program is, and understand the potential for these great ideas to be put to good use in other states,” Matteson said.
MarketMaker is hosted and maintained by University of Illinois Extension and is guided by an advisory board made up of representatives from among participating partner states. There is no charge associated with having a business listed on the site or to search the site for information.
For more information about MarketMaker, contact Darlene Knipe (309-792-2500; email@example.com).
I am busy working on The Chicago Farmers Farmland Investment Fair because it’s coming up next Saturday Feb 6, 2010 www.chicagofarmers.org. This event is devoted to farmland investing and definitely has some sessions of interest for local and regional food people. I have to wonder, what farmland use in the Midwest would look like if the region really put some muscle behind local food production and distribution. I think the past is prologue here. One of the big clues is The Wagner Farm in Glenview. http://www.wagnerfarm.org/. The Wagner Farm now sits on about 19 acres of prime North shore Real Estate, and the farm has dairy cows there. Yes, you read that right, there really are Holsteins living in Glenview.. The Farm has been reincarnated as a living history museum. However, in its prime, in the 20s, the Farm was about a 100 acres. In the 20,s there were 5,000 of these kind of farms in Cook County, Illinois. Farms like the Wagner’s supplied much of Chicago’s milk and vegetables, and the Wagner’s really were true Chicago Farmers. They farmed near and for Chicago, and if local food is truly going to happen, the future may look like the past.
I was watching the network news last weekend and was surprised to learn that some folks can’t find pumpkins this year. I typically don’t worry about pumpkins until the week before Halloween and the day before Thanksgiving and Christmas so it truly was “news to me”. A quick search of the blogosphere confirmed the problem. For some weeks, consumers have had problems finding canned pumpkin in the stores and the pain has been felt all across the country. When the news media started reporting disruptions in the supply of fresh pumpkins the two events became the perfect storm that has created a pumpkin panic of sorts.
I decided to reach out to Bill Shoemaker, a colleague of mine and a Fruit and Vegetable Crops Specialist with the University of Illinois to get his expert perspective. The canned pumpkin shortage is the result of less than optimum growing seasons in previous years in parts of the country that supply a large portion of the nation’s pumpkins. That includes Illinois. The canned pumpkin problem, Bill says, should start to improve as more of this season’s crop is harvested. As for a shortage of fresh pumpkins that is a combination of regional shortages primarily in the Northeast and a late growing season in other parts of the country.
There is good news, however, for all of you who are worried that there will be no Jack o Lanterns for Halloween or pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dinner. Pumpkins are grown in many shapes and varieties all over the country. Food MarketMaker provides information on over 1500 pumpkin growers across 13 states many of whom have product for sale right now. Check out the Buy Sell Forum on MarketMaker http://www.marketmaker.uiuc.edu/marketplace_home.php or simply do a search on MarketMaker for pumpkin growers in your area or around the country. Just click on any of the MarketMaker states to begin your search http://national.marketmaker.uiuc.edu/
If canned pumpkin continues to be in short supply, be adventuresome and try pumpkin pie made from scratch. For those of you who think using canned pumpkin is making it from scratch, I am talking about buying a fresh pumpkin, baking it in the oven and making your own pumpkin pie filling. If you are several generations removed from any family member who has ever cooked fresh pumpkin, check out http://urbanext.illinois.edu/pumpkins/selection.html. It walks you through the process from selection to preparation in pretty easy to follow steps. My thanks to Drusilla Banks with University of Illinois’ Nutrition and Wellness team for preparing that fact sheet.
Happy pumpkin hunting.
About a year and a half ago the University of Arkansas’ Applied Sustainability Center began working with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and their Heritage Agriculture program, which has the goal of creating supply chain visibility between local and regional food sources supplying their stores. It was apparent that a tool would be necessary for buyers to locate and engage small- and medium-scale producers, we were thinking that some sort of internet-based platform would be the best way to go.
Imagine how delighted we were to find out that the necessary tool already existed, had a presence in several states with support of extension from land-grant universities and state departments of agriculture, and was free to all users! Large-scale buyers need a central location to find sources to supply their local food programs. Producers who might be interested in scaling up their marketing efforts need a user-friendly way to gain exposure to the new distribution opportunities we’re seeing with consumer interest in fresh, local and healthy foods.
The Applied Sustainability Center has launched a program we call Agile Agriculture to take advantage of the favorable conditions we are seeing for producers, distributors and consumers of agricultural products. Large, undifferentiated markets aren’t suitable for many small/medium scale producers, but with the right education and tools we see potentials for more of our smaller producers to supply these arenas and provide healthy, local and fresh products to consumers. MarketMaker is quickly gaining in importance as a tool to link producers and markets of all scales and we’re looking forward to watching this program develop.
Father’s Day is a big grilling day; I guess there’s just something about it that appeals to our masculine instincts. I plan on staying around the house, spending time with the family and fire up my grill for some great local grass fed steaks. The variety of produce in the farmers markets is great right now also, in central Kentucky we are in a transitional period with both spring and early summer produce at the market.
This week I even found great tasting, local, heirloom tomatoes! Around here tomatoes don’t come in around here until July but Mr. Heirloom Tomato himself, Bill Best from Berea, KY is growing some varieties in a “high tunnel” this year, which is basically an unheated greenhouse where the plants are grown in the ground. He gets about a month jump on the season this way.
We also still have strawberries and asparagus which is really late for them but I’m thankful nonetheless, my boys will almost eat their weight in strawberries if allowed. There are also lots of lettuces, spring onions, greens of all description including one of my favorites Rainbow Swiss Chard.
Like any green you can braise chard really quickly and spike it with some vinegar, but what I like to do is make rice pilaf with it. You pull the leaves from the stems and use the stems as you would celery with spring onions and carrots cooking them in a little olive oil. Add you rice and stock and season, then just place the chopped chard leaves on top and let them steam as the rice cooks. When it is done, just stir in the leaves and enjoy. Those deep green leaves have lots of vitamins and a pilaf is a great way to incorporate them into something easy to make. Chard stems have a very mild flavor and you can use them in place of celery in lots of dishes, don’t throw them away!
Rainbow Chard Rice Pilaf
1 small bunch of rainbow chard, leaves and stems separated and chopped
2 small early onions, chopped
1 bunch small carrots, chopped
1 cup rice, regular or basmati
2 cups water or chicken stock
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
In a sauce pan place the olive oil, chard stems, onion and carrot and lightly sauté until the onions are clear.
Add the rice and stir to coat all the kernels with oil.
Add the water or stock, salt, stir well and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat, add the chopped chard leaves, cover the pot and allow to simmer 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat, allow to stand 5 minutes, stir the chard leaves into the rice and enjoy
The most common mistake people make cooking rice is to stir it. After it comes to a boil and you get it covered and simmering, do not stir it again. It will take exactly 20 minutes to cook and be perfect if you let it be.
This is the time of year when the local farms are harvesting their first batch of chickens, and they are absolutely fabulous. They’ve been outside enjoying the spring weather just like us, and eating the really tender early grasses that are sweet, and the early tender bugs. While eating bugs doesn’t sound very appetizing to most, I’m guessing the chickens would disagree. It is a great source of protein for them and it helps to keep the bug population down too.
The way factory chickens are raised is really disgusting, and a major source of water pollution. Not only that, but eating the chckens can be dangerous too. I just read an article on how researchers in Arkansas found that they could greatly reduce E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella in chicken breast meat by infusing combinations of organic acids — acetic, citric, lactic, malic and tartaric — into the meat. It is coming down to a choice of the risk of food poisoning or having chemicals in your food with many things for sale at food retailers.
I would rather have local free range chicken, but a lot of people balk at the price of chickens in the farmers markets. They are more expensive compared to the commodity chickens but not compared to what they actually cost to raise and process for the farmers, they don’t make a lot of profit on them.
The key is making a chicken and your money go the farthest. Two people should be able to eat well at least four times from a chicken; a family of four could eat at least twice. I like to roast a whole chicken or put it on the rotisserie, then pull it apart and slice up the meat. If you serve it already sliced you will take less on your plate than just putting a whole piece on there. If you put a whole piece of chicken or a whole steak on my plate, I’m going to eat it all; I have no willpower for good food.
This is in keeping with the Michael Pollan mantra of “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”, and a little chicken with a lot of veggie side dishes on your plate is the way to go, it is very satisfying.
You may have enough left to have a second meal either as leftovers, a stir fry, chicken salad and then with the bones and scraps make a great chicken stock that can be the base for a great soup with tons of veggies. That is really making your local food dollar stretch.
In a stock pot place all the bones & skin of a leftover chicken and:
2 carrots and 2 celery rib cut into ½” sections
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
Cover with water and bring to a boil, skim off any foam then turn down to a simmer
½ cup white wine (optional)
1 bay leaf
A few whole peppercorns
Fresh herbs (stem and all) of your choice
Simmer for 2 hours and strain for use
I’m trying to fill in my herb garden, I lost a few plants due to the drought last year and the ice storm this winter we had here in Kentucky. There are a lot of herb plants for sale right now at the markets, an incredible variety too. Buying your plants from local growers makes sense beyond supporting local producers; the plants will already be acclimated to your climate and have a better start.
Herbs are one of the easiest plants to grow. They are basically cultivated weeds and will do well in almost any soil. Like weeds, they can thrive in harsh conditions and are very forgiving, just give them full sun and water when they need it. Herbs can really make the food you cook come alive and having an herb garden is one of the best ways to become a better cook. It is almost impossible to use too much when cooking, unlike using dried herbs where a little can go a long way. Homemade pesto from basil in your own garden can’t be beat.
I always have a “lemon-herb” section in my herb garden that includes Lemon Balm, Lemon Thyme, Lemon Verbena & Lemon Basil. I like to try various combinations of them or even all together on different things for the grill or my lemon-herb vinaigrette that uses all of them with plain olive oil and white vinegar. By using regular olive oil, not extra virgin, and white vinegar the base is very mild and that lets the flavors of the herbs really come through. It makes a great marinade, a salad dressing on its own or even a sauce for something else.
In a blender place:
¼ Cup white vinegar
½ Cup regular olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons roughly chopped onion
1 teaspoon kosher salt
A few grinds of black pepper
A handful of fresh herbs, all lemon scented or any you like ~1/2 a packed cup
Blend until smooth
You can also do herbs in pots and porch planters for those folks without a lot of yard space or in apartments. I saw several very nice herb planters already made up in one of our markets or you can buy the plants and put one together in any interesting container. I have seen planters made from old wheelbarrows, wash tubs, watering troughs, and of course here in Kentucky, used half whiskey barrels. Take a look around your house or town, you might find something really neat.
In our area in central Kentucky lettuces have been exceptional this year because of all the rain and cool temps. It seems like the spring onions and asparagus have been sweeter than normal too, and the strawberries are coming in slow they also seem to be sweeter this year also.
We are coming up on another holiday weekend and I know there will be lots of picnics and grilling going on. We are so lucky there is so much locally raised meat in our area, you can put together a fantastic picnic all from the farmers markets in the area. It’s more than just hamburgers and hotdogs, although I know a hamburger from some of our local beef producers can’t be beat. Just think about all the different grilling items you can get locally now, steaks of all kinds, pork chops, ribs, sausages, chickens both whole and cut up, lamb chops or what I’m planning a whole leg of lamb on my rotisserie!
A great way to have a grill out is to do a mixed grill. Get several different cuts of meat and several different sausages and marinate them however you choose. Grill them all up and then slice them and arrange attractively on a big platter. Letting everyone take a little of each is a lot of fun, everyone gets to taste everything.
But you know if you don’t feel like cooking this Memorial Day there is the Hamburger Hootenanny at Holly Hill Inn in Midway, KY. It is a great event, I’ve been several years now, great food and fun. Chef Ouita Michel and her husband Chris are incredible supporters of local food; about 80% of the menu at their restaurant comes from within 50 miles. They have established relationships with numerous farmers in the area that grow specifically for them and are now working on a project where they are buying whole beeves. For the Hamburger Hootenanny they will be grilling local hamburgers and sausages and offering an array of side dishes made with local vegetables. http://www.hollyhillinn.com/
I’m sure everyone has seen the advertisements for the upside down tomato tree. I’m sure it would work, somewhat, but why folks would spend money on it I’ll never know. Tomatoes are very easy to grow, any spot with full sun and a little support and you are on your way. I always buy all my transplants at the farmers markets. Since they are grown locally they are already adapted to our climate unlike the plants from the big stores grown in the Deep South, unless of course you live in the Deep South, but I still encourage you to buy them from local farms!
I guess the tomato tree is just another way someone is making money from the “eat local” movement. I saw the disturbing news last week that Lay’s potato chips are now going to call themselves a local product in the areas that grow the potatoes. Everything is local somewhere, but that really gets outside the intent of the “eat local” movement; it is so much more than just where the food is grown. It completely ignores the intent that it be grown by a local farm that is a part of the local community, not a factory farm that only grows one crop for the commodity market.
This is the latest and greatest example of “greenwashing” I’ve heard of and I’m sure there will be others to follow. Green washing attempts to make a product look green when it really isn’t and there is a lot of that going on today. Think about it, sodas could be local to the mid-west where they grow the corn to make high fructose corn syrup. The food industry is really co-opting the message of eat local and sustainability. I saw an interview with Michael Pollan last week and he updated his rules for buying from his book “In Defense of Food”. He suggested never buying anything you have seen advertised. He said the food that is really good for you just sits there quietly on the shelf. It is only the highly processed and commodity foods that have advertising budgets. I don’t know of any farmers around here that advertise, so it is safe to say that shopping at a farmers market is only going to get you food that is really good for you.
While the big farmers market in Lexington, KY has been open several weeks, now most of the smaller markets in the more rural settings are also open now. I encourage folks to get out and experience different ones, it is amazing the variety of foods they all have and the opportunity to try different meats and vegetables depending on the growers’ whims of winter when they plan their crops. This is much different than a grocery store where you can count on all the stores having pretty much the same thing, no matter what the name on the marquee is.
The cool wet spring this year is giving us exceptional lettuces and greens of all kinds, I’ve really been enjoying salads lately. I’m seeing more romaine at the markets than I ever have before, the heads are small and really easy to work with and not tough like what you get from the groceries. I have also seen a lot of growers with Bibb and butter lettuces around this year. I have to mention that Bibb lettuce was bred in Frankfort, KY back in the 1800’s, so it is like a double KY Proud product in our area!
And of course there is Obama’s favorite arugula. It is a very versatile green, with a rich and silky but peppery taste great on its own as a salad or with other lettuces. You can also give it a quick sauté, and it goes great on pizzas and tossed with pasta. Cook your pasta and drain it, immediately tossing it with a good quality olive oil, the arugula and a good cheese like parmesan or asiago, preferably local.
Strawberries are really starting to come in now, and nothing is easier than just giving them a quick rinse and eat them right out of hand. I’m always sorry to see them go out of season but that doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy them year-round. They are one of the easiest fruits to put by as they used to say, just give them a good rinse, cut off the tops, lay them out on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer. Once they are frozen put them into freezer bags and they are ready for use anytime.
Strawberries are also really great in salads. When you are putting a salad together think about different flavors and tastes that complement each other like spicy and sweet, cool and hot. One of my favorite combos is arugula, strawberries, goat cheese and balsamic vinegar. The goat cheese, smooth, creamy and a little salty against the peppery kick of the arugula, and the sweet strawberries against the tartness of the balsamic vinegar, when you put it all together it’s like a party in your mouth.