A Slow Food Nations Recap : Change is Slow, So How Do We Become Snails on Skateboards?

Being involved in the Slow Food movement often means you advocate tirelessly for changes that take effect, well, rather “slowly.” So how do we speed that process up? At one of the forums during 2019’s Slow Food Nations in Denver, CO this past July, a panelist suggested that we work together to share ideas and best practices, finding allies in each other and in like-minded organizations who have the bandwidth to also support our causes. By working as a network of individuals as opposed to sometimes regionally isolated advocates, we can in essence give ourselves the power to move that proverbial weighty food system needle just a little bit father than we had the capacity to on our own. In theory, this allows us to become “snails on skateboards” - speeding up the change to create the world of values we envision.

Luckily, attending events like this one organized by Slow Food USA, is always a good reminder to not get disheartened, especially when it feels like you are moving at a “snails” pace. Every act, no matter how big or how small, matters and makes a difference. And enlisting the help of our allies (whether fellow Slow Food chapters in the region or partner organizations, farmers or producers), means we are not only supported in our work, but that we can get it done at an ever so slightly quicker pace. Below, you’ll find two articles by Slow Food Chicago board member and co-president, Katie Johnson, recapping her experience at just two of the panels she attended, which reiterate this theme of collaboration married with patience to endure the journey of effecting change. Stay the course, my “slow” friends! We are making change happen, no matter the pace.

Slow Food Nations, In Images

Check out our Instagram Stories for more from Denver, CO this summer!

CRAFT BEER FOR CHANGE SUMMIT (Saturday, July 20th, 2019)

Adam Dulye (Brewers Association) - Moderator

Dr. J. Jackson-Beckham (Craft Beer for All) - Panelist

Katie Wallace (New Belgium) - Panelist

How can drinking beer effect change? With the ever growing popularity of craft breweries and innovative locally focused small-scale brewers, can you imagine the impact if more consumers paused to look at the values brewed into their beer prior to consuming it? 

Dr. J. Jackson-Beckham shared some statistics to give the audience at the “Craft Beer for Change” Summit a frame of reference for just how vast the potential is when consumers react to brewers who take “responsibility for their beer.” 

  • There are upwards of 7,000 craft breweries in the U.S.

  • Somewhere around 80-85% of Americans live within 10 miles of a craft brewery.

  • The demographics of craft brewing are ripe for change with only 31% of brewers being women (fewer still are owners) and an even smaller margin, 4% being African American.

As America’s most consumed beverage, it’s easy to see how the craft beer industry has immense opportunity to influence change. And with an increasing density of breweries in or near most cities, consumers have the opportunity to shake hands with and talk to brewers in person instead of heading to a grocery store where you may be able to source the product, but won’t gain the knowledge you could if you source direct from the brewery itself.  Dr. J. reiterates, relating that “something is happening when it comes to economies of value when it comes to this product.” 

“This is a large industry of people who broach that together.” says Adam Dulye, executive chef for the Brewers Association and moderator of this summit. He spoke to the fact that the craft beer industry is unique in that there exists an unparalleled comradery and sense of community, to the point where there is consistent knowledge sharing between brewers. In most industries this same mentality isn’t sustainable due to the drive for competition above all else. Dr. J. confirmed this point by calling out the collaborative nature of brewing as can be seen from the popularity of “collaboration beers,” often born out of necessity. If you are brewing a beer and do not have enough of something, you look to your community of brewers to see if one of them has what you need to collectively finish the product, emotive to the ideal of “borrowing a cup of sugar” from ones neighbor.

And the “we are all in this together” mantra isn’t just an anthem for small-scale independent breweries. It was 15 years ago that Katie Wallace (currently the Director of Social and Environmental Impact at the company) started working for New Belgium, a brewery that originally got up and running in 1991 while it was still operating out of a basement. Today, the company is employee-owned and run by wind power, speaking to the company’s commitment to focusing their product and culture on the issues of climate action, policy work and social equity (diversity and inclusion, yes, but also wealth equity and the good and bad impacts that come with new breweries - with wealth comes gentrification); tenets that are built into their business model, not to mention brewed into their beers. Katie laments, “I hear a lot of brewers say, oh, well, I’ll make more investment in sustainability once I get going. But, there are a lot of scrappy solutions that are the roots of the craft brewing industry, piecing these things together. I think it’s a myth that it’s more expensive to do the right thing.” That’s not to say that there aren’t still issues to be concerned with in the industry. And from the consumer standpoint Wallace admits “it can be really overwhelming.” Some things to look for? B corporation status, the use of salmon safe hops, efforts to reduce water use and general waste (down to installing lights that automatically turn off when not in use), the Brewers Association’s Independent seal, a commitment to regenerative agriculture and experimenting with perennial grains (like kernza and sorghum), and even reducing the waste of spent grain by repurposing it for everything from animal feed to wild yeast bread and dog treats. Dr. J. validates, saying, “Anecdotally, craft brewers tend to have more best practices in more areas of innovation. I have seen over and over again the opportunities that craft beer can open up.”

Which just goes to show that beer, like humans, can have a moral compass.

FOOD ON THE 2020 BALLOT TALK (Sunday, July 21st, 2019)

Kate Cox (The New Food Economy) - Moderator

Urvashi Rangan (FoodPrint) - Panelist

Martin Lemos (National Young Farmers Coalition) - Panelist

Jillian Semaan (Green America) - Panelist

At the time of this writing (in late July), there are somewhere around 460* days until the 2020 election. With over 20 democratic candidates, and 1 republican challenger to the incumbent, there are many voices in the arena, but will the food policy issues that impact farmers and consumers be part of the national discussion? 

On one hand, moderator Kate Cox kicked off the “Food on the 2020 Ballot” talk by commenting on “how interesting it is that food and agriculture is making any news at all.” In past years, agricultural concerns have failed to get much play in the national media, much less on the debate stage. However, with anti-trust and corporate consolidation being the center of many of the forerunner’s platforms, there seems to be some sliver of hope that this correlation to “big ag” can become part of a universal conversation. Agriculture certainly hasn’t remained untouched by the claws of consolidation, as can be seen from the monopolization of the big four meatpackers (Tyson, Cargill, JBS and National Beef Packing Corporation) controlling a majority of the beef slaughtered and processed in the U.S. for public consumption; not to mention general unclarity in COOL (Country of Origin Labeling) where meat can be raised, processed and finished in completely separate places, despite what the end label may indicate. 

Much of this consolidation is systemic to the issues that plague our broader economy, but the severe fragmentation of the country’s regulatory system also plays a role. Regardless of who is in office next, they will need to navigate this web of organizations responsible for conducting research and creating regulatory policy. From labeling to fertilizers (which currently can include sewage sludge) & pesticides to the acceptable allowance of feces allowed in animal feed, the organizations tasked with these types of regulation, from the more commonly known USDA (Department of Agriculture), FDA (Food & Drug Administration), and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) down to DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services), FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials), don’t do a great job of communicating with one another. The sad truth as confirmed by panelist Jullian Semaan is that, “Federal agriculture doesn’t mean regulated for the betterment of our health.” Even deeper than the lack of communication between operations, Jillian spoke to the “slow” processing of information she witnessed while working for the USDA’s Civil Rights Office for the duration of President Obama’s term. “We were settling cases in 2009-2010 from 1981 to 1986. So that gives folks just a sense of what is really happening probably even today.” If this was happening roughly a decade ago, what leads us to believe things are any different today? Kate expands, reminding the audience that, “changes to census methodology have meant that some farmers, black farmers in particular weren’t counted. It cost them money, it cost them loans, it cost them land.” With all this political turmoil in the food and agriculture realm, this election cycle seems primed for the pendulum to swing back into the sphere of accuracy and equity. But first and foremost that means having uninhibited access to clear, uncorrupted, and unbiased information. Urvashi Rangan confirms, “When we don’t count things, we don’t correlate things properly. That’s the secondary consequence of that. So if you don’t count black farmers, it doesn’t seem like there are any. The analysis can then be very misleading because the data that is being captured is just not accurate.” 

However, amidst what may seem like a dismal forecast, there are some silver linings. First off, there is clear consumer interest. Urvashi relates that “More than 90% of people want to know where their food comes from.” When policy doesn’t support that demand, it means there is immense opportunity to make strides at more clarity in learning where our food comes from.

Martin Lemos, Executive Director of the National Young Farmers Coalition said a bright spot in the most recent 2017 Agricultural Census was the notable rise in local food and organic sales. This means that consumer demand is influencing a food evolution, if you will, which hopefully will result in more incentives to produce and eat this way. Farming remains very difficult to break into with farm land being nearly impossible to purchase without exorbitant wealth along with net incomes not viable to support new, younger farmers creating a national agricultural crisis. But as long as we keep having these conversations, we can help bridge the gaps between misinformation and informed and joyful consumer action.

Lemos continues, “It’s really important that we think about food policy as broader then just what happens on farms. Thinking about healthcare, thinking about access to housing and immigration rights, these things are essential to food policy. We need to be connecting these dots.” What can Slow Food Chapters and advocates do to continue the conversation so a broader audience is connecting those dots? “Building coalitions is important. Connecting with farmers, lawmakers and other advocates. It can be really dire, but we’ve also seen that things happen when pressure with public engagement, voicing concerns, proposing new policy, bringing together large groups of people and engaging diverse coalitions. Look outside your organization and start building bridges with other like-minded groups and even groups that may not necessarily agree, but are willing to have that conversation.” Jillian leaves the audience with a call to action, reiterating that we can’t rely on the government to effect this change. As Slow Food Chapter leaders and community organizers, it’s up to us to keep moving that needle and advocating for changes large and small alike.

*As of 9/3/19 there are 427 days!

A "Slow" Agro-tourism Experience - in Italia

The following is a guest blog post by Slow Food Chicago community member Rebecca Margolis. You can get in touch with Rebecca about her experience on instagram or via email (margolis.rebecca@gmail.com).

The electric gate to agriturismo Podere Prasiano slowly swings open and Eddy the dog lopes down the lane to greet us. In the vista before us we see groves of cherry trees to the left, grapevines of various ages to our right, and ahead is a lovingly restored farmhouse set amidst a backdrop of rolling Emilian hills. We (my husband and I) are in Italy for two-weeks. After long days traipsing through hilly medieval towns in Tuscany, touring museums and cathedrals, and trying to fit in as many meals as possible per day in search of the best Bolognese, we have come here to slow down.

Eddy the dog. (Image provided by Rebecca Margolis.)

Eddy the dog. (Image provided by Rebecca Margolis.)

Eddy is the beloved pup of Massimo Cavani and Emanuela Grotti, owners of this family farm and guesthouse that have been in Massimo’s family since 1959. The farm is situated about an hour outside of the town of Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Massimo and Emanuela both grew up in the province and have made it their life’s work to share their special corner of the world and slow approach to living with others. Emilia-Romagna does not rely on tourism for income, as the region is rich in agriculture and industry. As visitors, there is not much to do here but relax and explore the countryside. Because we are foodies, we were drawn to this place because it is the home of Parmigiano Reggiano, Balsamic Vinegar and Prosciutto de Parma.

All meals served at the guesthouse are made from produce grown on-site in the organic garden and eggs gathered from the hen house. Under the eaves of the house, balsamic vinegar has been aging in a battery of casks for 34 years. Jams and preserves are made from the farm’s orchard flush with cherries, plums, apricots, peaches, figs raspberries, blackberries and currants. Recently, the Podere has started experimenting with growing its own olives for pressing olive oil. In 2004 Massimo, a trained sommelier, planted his first grape vines and began producing organic Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in 2010.  

Podere Prasiano. (Image provided by Rebecca Margolis.)

Podere Prasiano. (Image provided by Rebecca Margolis.)

In 2016, Podere Prasiano was tapped to participate in a project called the Festasio Project with the Universities of Bologna and Modena and the Region of Emilia-Romagna. Part of a larger project by the Centro Ricerche Produzioni Vegetali (Crop Production Research Center or CRPV) to protect biodiversity, the Festasio Project seeks to revive an ancient grape from the nearby village of Festá. Podere Prasiano was selected as a partner due to their commitment to organic farming and their perfect soil composition for a grape thought to originate in the area. They were also chosen for their willingness to invest time and money in cultivating a non-commercial crop, not to mention their proven commitment to creating artisan wines, and doing things slowly to achieve the best quality. Massimo, who was born in the village of Festá, was thrilled to participate.

In the 1970s and 80s, Italian grape growers began to shift their crops away from traditional grape varieties to more well known grapes that fetched higher sums from wine producers. The current countrywide effort to revive ancient grapes is in part a search for more special, artisanal opportunities in winemaking but its overall goal is to promote sustainable crop production by protecting biodiversity. The Festasio grape is important to study as it has very strong vines that are resistant to disease.  

Festá is a tiny village that belongs to the municipality of Marano sul Panaro. Today, only nine people live in the village.  As seems the norm in every tiny village in the Italian countryside, there is a medieval tower, a church and a delicious restaurant (despite the lack of nearby humans). The local wisdom is that in the year 890 the area was transformed into a vineyard and there are writings about the Festasio grape to support this. Much of the region has now been taken over by production of the Lambrusco grape due to a boom in popularity (particularly in the US) in the 1980s. Lambrusco is now the second most popular wine export from Italy after Prosecco. Older, traditional grapes have so fallen out of favor that by the time the Festasio project was initiated the grape had almost disappeared. Festasio was brought back to life after it was discovered by Claudio Plessi, a professor of agriculture and champion of indigenous varietals, in an ancient vineyard close to the village of Festá.

Festasio, a wine that almost vanished due to the popularity of Lambrusco grapes taking over the landscape. (Image provided by Rebecca Margolis.)

Festasio, a wine that almost vanished due to the popularity of Lambrusco grapes taking over the landscape. (Image provided by Rebecca Margolis.)

On a perfect summer night, Massimo takes me on a tour of his vineyard. His Festasio vines are in their second year and this is the first year he’ll harvest grapes and actually make wine from them. Grapes produced in the first few years of a vine’s life typically do not produce fruit suitable for making wine but this is all experimental. On a smaller scale, the CRPV has managed the growth of Festasio grapes in a test garden since 2001.  The first wines were made in 2011. After Massimo and I return from our tour of the vineyard, he gathers my husband and our friends around a small café table on the terrace. Sitting there is a perfectly chilled bottle of Festasio wine from the 2011 harvest. This experimental bottle is one of a treasured few Massimo has for his own personal enjoyment.

Rebecca Margolis tasting the Festasio wine from 2011. (Image provided by the author.)

Rebecca Margolis tasting the Festasio wine from 2011. (Image provided by the author.)

I am so honored to be experiencing this special wine that I want to remember every detail. The color is such a dark aubergine it is almost inky. Once swirled in the glass it releases aromas of blackberry and black current that match the intensity of its color. It strikes me that the wine is very low in acid, an important characteristic in providing structure to a wine. One purpose of creating these experimental wines is to determine what the best use of the grape will be. Perhaps as the vines mature the grapes will produce juice worthy of a single varietal wine. Perhaps Festasio will be deemed a grape most suitable for blending. It all remains to be seen as the vines continue to mature and the team continues to experiment with production methods.

As a Festá native, a passionate organic farmer and a wine lover, this project is a dream for Massimo. As we raise our second glasses for a toast he says, “this is my wine, the wine of my village”.

Your Ticket to This Years Farm Roast Celebration is So Much More Than Just a Ticket to Our Most Delicious Event of the Year

Every year, we gather and celebrate local farmers and producers along with the chefs, mixologists and purveyors who make their ingredients shine. The Farm Roast is a time where rare and distinctive ingredients on the Ark of Taste, a living catalog of heirloom varieties at risk of extinction, are front and center. From a dairy free horchata made with oat milk using oats sourced from Three Sisters Garden in Kankakee, IL to farro tabouleh with feta, mint, cucumber and Moon and Stars watermelon sourced from Stewards of the Land to a Cherokee Purple tomato jam - you'll find a diverse selection of drinks and dishes at this event.

But beyond being a celebration of biodiversity, the Farm Roast is also a fundraiser that helps Slow Food Chicago to be able to provide travel scholarships for community members and good food advocates so that they may have the opportunity to attend Terra Madre Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy. This biennial global food conference happens in late September and brings together those dedicated to good, clean and fair food - artisan and small-scale food and wine producers, as well as a forum of exchange for producers and consumers. This year, over twenty individuals will be attending the international conference from the state of Illinois. So in buying your ticket to the 2018 Farm Roast, you are not only endorsing good food values by supporting local farmers and producers, but you are sponsoring the trip of a local midwestern food activist. 

Profiles of this year's delegates are below. Don't forget that you have the chance to meet a handful of these delegates in person at our Terra Madre delegate breakout session (happening at 4:15pm). The panel is free to attend, but advanced registration is encouraged.

Thank you, as always, for your support of our vision that our environment, culture and economy are profoundly affected by what we choose to eat. We believe that everyone should have access to high-quality food produced in a sustainable and equitable way. And when you partake in an event like that farm roast, you are voting with your dollars in alignment with this view. 

See you at the Roast!


Katie Johnson, Slow Food Chicago co-President

What: Slow Food Chicago's Annual Farm Roast Celebration

When: Sunday, September 9th, 2018 / 2pm-5pm

Where: Local Foods parking lot (1427 W. Willow Chicago, IL)

Tickets: Purchase general admission and breakout session tickets here.

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TM Delegate Profiles-2018 emily + alana.jpg
TM Delegate Profiles-2018 kirby + estelle.jpg
TM Delegate Profiles-2018 greg + molly.jpg
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TM Delegate Profiles-2018 evan + vera.jpg
TM Delegate Profiles-2018 vera ctd + aaron.jpg
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TM Delegate Profiles-2018 jen rosenthal.jpg
TM Delegate Profiles-2018 monica + beatriz.jpg
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TM Delegate Profiles-2018 harold + bri.jpg
TM Delegate Profiles-2018 clare + mike w.jpg
TM Delegate Profiles-2018 devin juanita heidi dave TY.jpg

Slow Food Chicago - Spring 2018 Update

2018 has been one of the busier spring seasons on record for Slow Food Chicago. So today, we're taking a stroll down memory lane to reminisce about all that we've been up to since March. With the summer solstice (and our Annual Potluck celebrating the start of summer) just a couple of weeks away, as anxious as we are to officially be operating on "summer hours," we want to take a minute to reflect on all that we've accomplished in springtime.

Food Book Club

The 2018 schedule for food book club was announced and we've already met and discussed three of the six titles we plan on reading this year.  First up was Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen. We noshed on sourdough biscuits and discussed this dreamy memoir - a tale of duality about a chef splitting her time first in the big apple in high end restaurants and then returning to her roots in a cabin in rural Minnesota. Next, we changed things up with a panel style discussion at the MCA Commons about Paul Robert's The End of Food while also discussing the Ark of Taste and its efforts to preserve food culture and heritage at risk of being lost. Just the other week, we gathered for the third food book club discussion - where we explored The Art of Flavor: Practices and Principles for Creating Delicious Food by Michelin Star Chef Daniel Patterson and natural perfumist Mandy Aftel. We're taking the month of June off, but we'll be back at it in July with Carl Honore's In Praise of Slowness : Challenging the Cult of Speed.

Good Food Expo

We were fortunate to be involved in this year's Good Food EXPO this March. Not only did we exhibit with a "Slow Seeds" booth where we engaged with attendees and passed out Ark of Taste seeds for planting (including Amish Paste Tomato seeds and Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce Seeds), but we also had the opportunity to sit in on Abe Conlon's and Michael Harlan Turkell's Master Class : Acid Trip, Travels in the World of Vinegar. During the masterclass, participants enjoyed a pork vindaloo prepared by Abe, a posca sour cocktail of Michael's creation, and infused vinegar shots (including aronia berry vinegar, sorghum vinegar, ramp vinegar, heirloom tomato vinegar and concord grape vinegar). 

Farm to Fork Dinner at Eataly Chicago with Paul Fehribach of Big Jones

Through a new partnership with Eataly Chicago, La Scuola has been hosting "Farm to Fork" dinners featuring "slow" producers. Most recently, this included a dinner with Paul Fehribach, owner of Big Jones. Participants left with a better understanding of Slow Food and heirloom ingredients, which Paul highlights on his menus. Next up this June, we spend an evening with Ali Cole, founder of the Farinata Project, a chickpea based Italian Bread. Hope you can join us!

preSERVE Garden Days

We finally thawed out from the winter and despite a rather chilly start to the season, we got busy volunteering in the garden - planting, cleaning and weeding. An entire portion of the garden is committed to growing Ark of Taste ingredients, and on a recent volunteer day, we planted kale, chard and onions. As of last weekend, the strawberry patch is starting to ripen as well! If you haven't made it to a volunteer day yet, things are going to heat up this June and July. Hope to see you on the first and third Saturday to get busy in the garden together! Can't make it on the weekends? We're hosting a crop mob at The Pie Patch next Wednesday!

Celebrating Earth Day in Batavia, IL

In line with our commitment to engage more audiences throughout not just the city, but also the suburbs of Chicago, we participated in a special Earth Day Celebration at the Montessori Academy's campus this April. Along with other sustainably focused vendors, we had a blast on this green campus along the Fox River.

Annual Tomato Seedling Sale

Our annual Tomato Seedling Sale happened on a chilly and sometimes rainy weekend in May. But you still showed up and went home with seedlings to #growyourown this season. Whether you picked up Ark of Taste varietals like Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter or a Sudduth Strain Brandywine or even a variety you haven't grown before like the pepper shaped Opalka or the plum shaped Ukranian Purple, thanks to all of you who purchased seedlings this year and for selling us out of inventory on the first day of the sale! Extra thanks to Bang Bang Pie in Logan Square for hosting us another year (and for fueling us with coffee and biscuits)!

Dishing on the Farm Bill

Recently, the Farm Bill has gotten some deserved attention in political activism. A couple of our very own board members - Jody Osmund of Cedar Valley Sustainable Meat CSA and Alison Parker of Radical Root Farm - have gotten involved in their own right. Both joined forces with the Illinois Stewardship Alliance to host events about the politics behind the food on our plates and "dish" about the proposed farm bill. Oftentimes, these events involve not just food, but also an educational component and perhaps even a postcard writing party where participants can emplor their representatives to advocate for a bill that helps sustainably-focused small family farmers. Click here to read a companion blog post from Farm Aid about these parties that are gaining popularity in these times of increased grass-roots activism.

National Restaurant Association Show

May is notorious for a being a busy time of year. Add to the calendar the industry's most talked about food show that draws industry experts from the world over and you've got yourself a packed schedule. Slow Food Chicago was fortunate to be invited to partake in a couple of stage demonstrations at the BellaVita Pavillon. On Saturday, board member and pastry chef instructor Heidi Hedeker lead audience members through a "World of Baking" demo showcasing Ark of Taste Wheats like Turkey Red Wheat which can be used to make pastry dough, naan bread and even miche bread. On Monday, chef Jaime Gurrerro and co-president Katie Johnson led audience members through the composition of a grain salad built using primarily Ark of Taste ingredients including Turkey Red Wheat Berries from The Mill at Janie's Farm, Rio Zape heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo, dressed in a vinaigrette using benne oil. Want to recreate it at home? Click here!

Granor Farm Dinner

This past weekend, a couple of members of the Slow Food Chicago board were lucky to accompany Midwest Ark of Taste chair Jennifer Breckner to Three Oaks, MI for a special 7-course dinner at Granor Farm. Chef Abra Berens prepared a farm fresh meal highlighting Ark of Taste ingredients and items vital to local foodways. Guests had the opportunity to tour the farm, and then gathered in the farmhouse for meal where the distance from farm to table was virtually 50 yards or less for nearly every ingredient. $45 of each ticket sold to this inspired meal benefitted Slow Food USA and the Plant a Seed Campaign. On top of that, for every ticket sold, a "Plant a Seed" kit was donated to a school garden encouraging #foodforchange. Relive the event in our instagram story highlights.

Stay tuned for more this summer and check back on our events page for updates! Thanks for making this Spring the most eventful #goodcleanfair season yet!

Jersey Giant Chickens Help Students Embrace Agricultural Learning at a Southside Chicago Public School

The following is a guest blog post by current active Slow Food Chicago board member Naaman Gambill (education chair), recounting his experience as a S.O.A. CTE Teacher of Agriculture and Horticulture at CPS' Southside Occupational Academy. Naaman is also the managing partner and head beekeeper at The Hive: Chicago's Beekeeeping Supply Store in North Lawndale.

On the Southside of Chicago, a train rumbles across old tracks in West Englewood, as a large onyx rooster bellows out his crow, challenging any whom might oppose him. The size of this rooster is startling. Weighing over 10 pounds, this Goliath of the chicken coop could easily be mistaken as a tough old bird that has seen many Chicago winters come and go, but in actuality this will be its first; this rooster is less than 8 months old. 

New Jersey Giants, are a heritage breed that came into existence in the 1880s by brothers, John and Thomas Black of Burlington, New Jersey. The brothers were looking to replace the expensive turkeys with an affordable big chicken alternative for American families. However, the long-term development of up to 9 months before market ready, made the economics of raising this bird disagreeable to most farmers. Even though this bird is an excellent dual purpose bird (used for both eggs and meat) that does well even in cold climates, it has been placed on the Livestock Conservancy’s “Watch List” do to their lack of numbers. It has also been included as an Ark of Taste breed by Slow Food USA.

Jersey Giant Chickens on the Ark of Taste. Photo from slowfoodusa.org.

Jersey Giant Chickens on the Ark of Taste. Photo from slowfoodusa.org.

Each day, the students of Southside Occupational Academy High School’s, Agriculture class take care of a flock of 24 of these chickens (along with 21 ducks). Split into two groups, one gathering eggs and checking the coop and the other feeding and refilling their fresh water in the run. The students take great care of the animals, checking that the birds are in good health, and carefully collecting the eggs. Each day the students collect over a dozen mocha brown eggs that the Jersey Giant hens have laid. Carefully they place the eggs in a basket and bring them back into their Agriculture classroom to clean, sanitize, sort and label the eggs. These “farm fresh” eggs will then be sold to the staff to take home and the proceeds will go back to the Agricultural program.

This Southside closed-loop system, with their burgeoning entrepreneurs, sounds as if this is some new and exciting Charter school, or maybe a privately financed school led by environmentally-minded philanthropists, but this a Chicago Public School. Being one of only three Special Needs Vocational Schools in the city, here students with a wide array of differing special needs come together to achieve some truly inspiring endeavors. These accomplishments are reinforced daily with the students repeating the Southside motto: 

“We Believe in Ourselves”

“We Learn in Different Ways”

“We Understand We are Important”

“We Excel in School, Work, and the Community”


This commitment to self-advocating and respect for others and the environment feeds into the success of all of the programs that these students endeavor. It also resonates most succinctly in their Agriculture program. As an often overlooked and marginalized feathered friend is finding support in a demographic that can truly empathize its plight. 

Want to know more about the Ark of Taste? You can view the living catalog here.

Want to learn more about this agricultural approach at Southside Occupational? Get in touch with Naaaman at naaman@slowfoodchicago.org.

Slow Food Chicago 2017 - In Review

"It's no longer a few sprints here and there. It's a marathon and our cadence is ours to determine, so long as we keep moving. For me, that movement comes in the form of feeding people in all the ways I know how, but doing so with greater purpose and recruiting others to do the same since we are indeed stronger and more capable together." -Julia Turshen from her book, Feed The Resistance : Recipes + Ideas for Getting Involved


We call ourselves the Slow Food movement, fully recognizing that we rely on the power of individuals to join together and help us not just keep going, but to go farther. No matter your level of involvement this past year with our local Slow Food Chicago chapter, we're grateful to have your voice in chorus with our own. With your help, this year (2017), we accomplished a lot, including : 

-Board Member attendance and participation in Soup & Bread at the Hideout with donations going to efforts to alleviate hunger through supporting local food pantries.

-Food Book Club was held throughout the year and throughout the city with book topics ranging from skin health to soil heath, all with the common theme of food.

-@slowfoodchicago was host to instagram takeovers from community partners and fellow Slow Food Members including - Gardeneers (Amanda Fieldman), Midwest Ark of Taste Committee Chair (Jennifer Breckner), Sitka Salmon Shares (Marsh Skeele), Green City Market, Snail of Approval Chair Laurell Sims, Photographer Rachel Brown Kulp, and Chef Katie Simmons. Not to mention our board member holiday takeover (more on that below).

-preSERVE Garden Volunteer Days were held throughout the growing season in North Lawndale in partnership with the Chicago Honey Co-op, North Lawndale Greening Committee and Neighborspace.

-In partnership with the Chicago Public Library, board member Heidi Hedeker presented A Tale of Three Wheats with Naaman Gambill presenting What's the Buzz about Beekeeping.

-Slow Food USA provided seeds to Chicago Public Schools to plant and grow in school gardens across the city.

-Our annual Tomato Seedling Sale sold over 100 Ark of Taste and heirloom variety tomatoes and other seedlings.

-Slow Food Chicago hosted the annual Summer Solstice Potluck at Christy Webber Landscapes.

-Organized crop mobs in partnership with Advocates for Urban Agriculture at : South Merrell Community Garden, Englewood Earl's Garden Mae's Kitchen, Earnest Earth, OTIS Fresh Farm, the Pie Patch, and Star Farm.

-Attended Slow Food Nations in Denver, Colorado - sending several delegates from Chicago who got to meet Alice Waters and Carlo Petrini and learn about what chapters throughout the US are doing to promote good, clean and fair food.

-Participated in the AUA's Summer Soiree at Big Delicious Planet.

-Co-hosted Uncommon Ground's annual Vegetarian Harvest Dinner.

-Hosted a Rooftop Garden Tour at McCormick Place.

-Celebrated at the Annual Farm Roast hosted at Local Foods - our biggest fundraiser of the year where we raised over $5K that will go to support delegates attending Terra Madre and Slow Food Nations.

-And to wrap up a successful year, we celebrated Terra Madre Day - Slow Food's annual day to promote the diversity of food traditions and production during our Annual Meeting at Ampersand CoWork.

holiday takeover.001.jpeg

To close out December, the Slow Food Chicago Board of Directors hosted a holiday takeover leading up to the holiday season. Hope you enjoyed sharing in our favorite memories, traditions and recipes. To recreate some highlights from our board takeover, see below!

-For Dan's Latke recipe - click here.

-For Heidi's corn cookie with pickled strawberry jam - click here.

-For Molly's creamed spinach recipe - click here.

Again, we could not have made it through such a successful 2017 without you. Looking forward to what 2018 brings for the good, clean and fair movement.

"Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder." - Rumi

Journey to Chengdu, China - Slow Food International Congress 2017

The following is a guest blog post by Slow Food Midwest Ark of Taste Committee Chair Jennifer Breckner. You may have caught some of her photos from her travels on our instagram on Thursday 11/2/17 over at @slowfoodchicago. For a more in-depth behind the scenes look at her trip to Chengdu, China for this year's Slow Food International Congress, read on! Thank you, Jennifer for sharing your journey with us!

Wall text from the Slow Food International Congress in Chengdu, China

Wall text from the Slow Food International Congress in Chengdu, China

Every five years, Slow Food holds an International Congress which allows delegates to gather around issues that will guide the organization forward. It’s a point to pause and take stock of our past work but also to delve into areas that we could be better at—think inclusion, openness and diversity—and then set a vision for the work we have ahead of us. In addition, Slow Food, as a nonprofit, is required to share information such as financial statements, and to produce reports on their work such as the 2012-2017 Ark of Taste Document, as well as allow delegates voting rights on statutes that the executive committee has deemed important. These are procedural things that happen at these gatherings.

The 7th Slow Food International Congress took place in Chengdu, China, from September 29 – October 1, 2017. Over four-hundred delegates traveled from ninety countries to attend, including forty-three from the United States. Chengdu is located in the Sichuan Province. It was designated a UNESCO gastronomic heritage site in 2010 and has more than sixty thousand restaurants providing complex, flavorful and absolutely phenomenal food and is known for Sichuan peppercorns, which add a dose of tingle to your tongue.

Spices displayed at the farmers market.

Spices displayed at the farmers market.

The conference was held at the Shangri-La Hotel and we were welcomed at a traditional Sichuan dinner on Thursday night at a tea house. The full conference began very early the next morning as, ahem, some of us were dealing with jet lag and were very grateful that the Italians brought coffee from Lavazza. Kicking off the first day of formal speeches was a parade featuring representatives from each of the countries in attendance proudly waving their flags. It’s a gesture that highlights the global connections of our Slow Food network and adds a bit of fun to the event.

International Councilors

Kathryn Lynch Underwood from Detroit, Tiffany Nurrenbern from San Francisco and I attended as newly elected International Councilors representing the United States. We join a group of forty councilors from around the world who serve as an advisory board for Slow Food. It is a three year volunteer position that has us traveling once a year to gather with our colleagues and discuss Slow Food’s work.

The Conference

Friday was formal in nature with a lineup of speakers such as Alma Rosa Garcés Medina, a biologist from Mexico and Tiejun Wen, the executive dean of China’s Institute for Advanced Studies of Sustainable Development at Renmin University and the Institute for Rural Reconstruction at Southwest University, talking of challenges that their countries faced from the effects of climate change. John Kariuki Mwangi, vice-president of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity offered: ““In Kenya, my country, the pastoralist communities are the hardest hit and many are being forced to migrate…Slow Food is working on this…through the promotion of agroecology and the protection of biodiversity, standing alongside producers.” Fighting climate change is a new focus for Slow Food. The U.S. was represented when Kathryn Underwood spoke to the delegation about the history of urban farming in Detroit, the evolution of “slow neighborhoods” there and the contributions of African Americans and immigrants to both, highlighting the work of great Detroit organizations like D-Town Farm, American Indian Health and Security, Oakland Avenue Urban and Burnside Farms. We ended the night with a traditional hot pot dinner and many bottles of wine.

Saturday delegates broke off into small groups to share success stories from our local efforts and grappled with questions pertaining to issues that Slow Food faces in promoting its message. It was an opportunity to get to know Slow Food leaders and their work better. Dinner was at the hotel and we were treated to performances such as the Chinese Dragon Dance (pictured), two young opera singers singing in Italian for Slow Food’s President, Carlo Petrini, and a calligraphy demonstration. 

Sunday concluded the conference with a half day of voting on statutes—for a full list click here—followed by a rooftop reception. It was overwhelming, exhausting, and exhilarating all at the same time.

What was accomplished?

There are those delegates who found fault with Slow Food for “throwing a great party” but not getting much done. The vote on Congressional motions on the last day was more symbolic than an actual indication of delegate’s involvement as the focus had been decided by the executive committee prior to the conference. I think the format needs some work to incite more deep engagement with attendees, yet I also think it’s challenging to bring together five hundred people from around the world who have different languages, experiences, expectations and challenges in promoting Slow Food values to work on structural changes that need to be made or to complete projects that should be implemented over time. I think the actual work happens at home. Engagement with our international community does have its purposes. As Richard McCarthy, Director of Slow Food USA offers: “Slow Food gatherings are ends unto themselves. Spending time with inspiring leaders from around the world is a specific goal. It changes all of our perception of how our actions at home are aligned [globally]…and [we] learn from those who tackle challenging work on the other side of the planet.” Personally hearing of the challenges that fellow Slow Food leaders face encourages me to think beyond my own experience and to develop a broader view making my work here better.

Ark Hanyuan Potted Pork

Ark Hanyuan Potted Pork

Mongolian Tribes

Mongolian Tribes

Chinese dragon dance

Chinese dragon dance

The Slow Food Great China chapter is the first of its kind in the country. It was founded recently in 2015 but has worked hard to nominate nearly two hundred items to the Ark of Taste; sixty have been officially boarded. We saw some of those items on display along with Ark products from around the world and tasted products that were on the Mongolian Autonomous Region’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List, some made by traditional processes that date back to the 13th century Yuan Dynasty. As we gathered in Chengdu, we brought a show of strength, support, and tourism dollars for traditional food ways and Slow Food efforts in China and gained inspiration from each other to continue the work back home. 

An End of Summer Ark of Taste Inspired Salad

Earlier in the summer, Chef Katie Simmons (@chefkatiesimmons) schooled us on how to make an amazing Turkey Red wheat berry salad. Yesterday, she took over our instagram and walked us through a day in the life of a personal chef. In case you couldn't get enough, she also whipped up another recipe for us - Moon and Stars Watermelon Calypso Bean Salad including an Ark of Taste ingredient - Moon and Stars Watermelon - as the salads star ingredient. Read on below for inspired directions about how you can recreate the heirloom salad at home! 



Moon and Stars Watermelon Calypso Bean Salad


3 cups Moon & Stars Watermelon, diced

1 1/2 cups cooked black calypso beans

1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)

1/2 large red onion, diced

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

1 bunch of cilantro, chopped

2 limes, zest and juice

Salt, to taste


Combine the Moon and Stars watermelon, calypso beans, corn, red onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Zest and juice the limes and add to the mix. Add a dash of salt. Toss well. Taste to adjust seasoning. Serve immediately.

Chef tip : If you're making this salad ahead of time, combine everything except the watermelon. Add the diced watermelon and toss just before serving. Regardless of when you make it, retain the beautiful watermelon rind and use as an elegant way to serve the salad!

Learn more about the catalog of ingredients listed on the Ark of Taste here.

Love the recipe? Follow along with personal chef, Katie Simmons (and learn why Plants-Rule) via the links below!

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Tumblr / Pinterest / YouTube

Uncommon Ground 10th Annual Vegetarian Harvest Dinner

It's hard to believe our annual Vegetarian Harvest Dinner that we co-host with Snail of Approval restaurant Uncommon Ground will have officially been occurring for a decade after next week's iteration. We're one week out from one of our favorite affairs of the summer - one that celebrates fresh, veggie centered ingredients, most of which were grown on the rooftop farm of Uncommon Ground's Devon Ave location (it doesn't get much closer to farm-to-fork than that)! To recognize 10 years of this delicious event (and to entice you to purchase a ticket and join us, if you haven't already) - we asked Michael and Helen Cameron, Uncommon Ground's owners, what guests can expect at this year's event. We hope you'll join us! This dinner historically sells out - so you'll want to jump on tickets sooner rather than later!

What are you most excited about for this year’s dinner?

Every year, we're extremely excited & thankful for the opportunity to grow such beautiful, organic crops that we can share with our guests.

What’s your favorite part of the meal?

The rooftop farm cocktail reception where everyone can enjoy the organic roof top farm & see how we grow all of the delicious food that they are about to eat during the dinner downstairs in the restaurant.

What is the first step in pairing a beer (or cocktail) with a dish?

The first step is always determining what produce we have available & how we want to combine those items into a dish. Once that is established, we look at the beer or cocktail pairing & choose the most appropriate item to match the dish. For example, the rooftop farm heirloom tomato & scallion shortcake with white cheddar ale whip is paired with our "Curselifter" summer blonde ale as we are using that beer in the actual dish & that bridges the taste profile between beer & food.

What can guests expect at the 10th Annual Vegetarian Harvest Dinner that’s unique from dinners of years past?

Every season, we develop a completely different menu. Menu dishes are built based on the summer harvest of organic veggies that we have been planning since the beginning of the year.

Is there a particular ingredient that you haven’t grown before (or a different variety) that is featured on this year’s menu that you’re most excited about highlighting?

Yes, a few of the newer items that we have added to our crop rotation are leeks, which are featured in the leek & garlic fritters, parsnips which will be parsnip chips in the smoked carrot & wheat berry salad & scallions that will be in the scallion shortcake.

The second course features rooftop grown heirloom tomatoes. We have an heirloom seedling sale every spring - we’d love to hear what varieties you are growing/featuring on the menu?

Tomatoes were the inspiration for the farm & generally our highest valued crop. This year we are growing 2 varieties in the Slow Food Ark of Taste, Aunt Ruby's German Green & German Pink tomatoes, along with several varieties of heirlooms & a few hybrids. We always make sure that one of the dishes in the harvest dinner features all of the varieties that we have available.

Grain salads seem to be gaining popularity this summer. How did you come up with the wheat berry salad in the first course?

We feature a "greens & grains salad" on our menu year round. This particular grain salad was inspired by the Green City Market that recently started at Wrigley Field, just one block from our Lakeview location's front door. The organic wheat berries are coming from Brian Severson's farm in Dwight, IL.

What inspired the flavors and how does it differ from other grain salads you may have had?

We have a gorgeous crop of carrots & decided to slightly smoke them to present them in a sort of BBQ flavor profile as to highlight the carrots as the main focus of the dish.

As a Snail of Approval restaurant, we know you take special care in sourcing ingredients that you can’t grow and/or produce yourself. How do you ensure that items like dairy (huckleberry goat cheese in the 1st course, white cheddar ale whip in the 2nd course, etc) are sourced sustainably, humanely as well as locally?

We are very proud to have been the recipient of the 1st Chicago Snail of Approval & take great pride in sourcing ingredients that align with our shared slow food vision. The huckleberry blue goat cheese comes from Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery in Champaign, IL made by Leslie Cooperband, an award winning local cheese maker & very active in the farm to table movement.

In that same vein, how does Uncommon Ground (at this dinner in particular as well as during regular operating hours) ensure that you are reflecting the Slow Food tenents of good, clean and fair?

Basically, we use the ideals of good, clean & fair as a filter when purchasing food & beverage and ultimately any products that we use for the restaurant.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s dinner?

This dinner, to us, is the highlight of the year. It is the culmination of many months of planning & executing to deliver this meal to everyone that comes. The greatest joy is sharing the entire experience - - each dish is an integral part of the whole.

Do you have a favorite dish from this year’s menu that you are most anticipating guests tasting?

That's like asking if we have a favorite child. ;) Each menu item has it's own personality that we highlight & it's part of a symphony of flavors that we have grown to share with everyone.

Interested in learning more about Uncommon Ground and the 10th Annual Vegetarian Harvest Dinner? All the details are below!

Uncommon Ground : Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

What: 10th Annual Vegetarian Harvest Dinner

Where: Uncommon Ground Edgewater (1401 W Devon Ave Chicago, IL 60660 / Map)

When: Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017 / 6:00pm - 9:00pm

More Info: Full event details can be viewed on the ticket website, here as well as on the event page.

Slow Food Nations (Denver, CO) Recap

A little over a week ago, from July 14 through July 16, a handful of delegates from Chicago and the surrounding area flew to Denver, CO to participate in Slow Food Nations. Over 500 delegates from around the world participated - and that number is even higher if you count the locals who stopped by the taste marketplace or stuck around for a demo in Larimer Square. Modeled after Terra Madre, SFN is a festival bringing together leaders and eaters, farmers and chefs, educators and families for a weekend of tastings, tours, and discussions all with the goal of exploring a world of good, clean and fair food for all. Here's a quick recap of the festivities through the eyes of a few of the delegates from the Chicago crew who were in attendance.

Have you been to Denver, CO before?

RL / CC / KJ : No.

Why did you attend Slow Food Nations? What was your motivation?

RL : I have good relationships with some SF board members and Jennifer Breckner (from the Midwest Ark of Taste committee). I was encouraged to attend Slow Food Nations in an effort to represent Chicago an the good work we are doing.

CC : When I went to the Slow Food University in Italy (UNISG), I was completely immersed in Slow Food life. Moving back to the US, I felt somewhat disconnected from the Slow Food movement, until I joined the Slow Food Chicago board. The Slow Food community in Chicago is vibrant and inviting, and I knew that Slow Food Nations would be that times 100! I've attended Terra Madre in the past, and I know how inspiring and energizing it can be to have thousands of Slow Food advocates all in the same space to connect and share ideas. Slow Food Nations was exactly the same, and I came away feeling inspired and excited about building upon the good work we do, which was exactly my motivation!

KJ : As the communications chair on the Slow Food Chicago board, I relish any opportunity to get out from behind the computer screen and interact with other people sharing the same ideals and working towards similar goals - advocating for good, clean and fair food for all. Slow Food Nations seemed like the perfect excuse to do just that! (And having never been to Denver before, making a trip there for SFN wasn't a bad excuse to get to see the city either!)

Photo credit : Chelsea Callahan.

Photo credit : Chelsea Callahan.

What was your favorite part about this July's Slow Food Nations? Was the location of Denver, CO effective?

RL : I thought Denver was a great location for the event. It is a fantastic city that offered a lot to the conference. The talks and sessions were really great, but the interaction and connections, to me, made the trip really worth it. Getting to meet legends in my field like Bob Perry as well as producers of products I enjoy like Geechie Boy Mills, was a real thrill. Being in a common space with common interests with the likes of Cesare Casella, Ron Finley, Michel Nischan, Alice Waters, and on and on.... was inspiring!

CC : I loved every part of it! The energy was amazing, and it was so nice to be in a place where everyone believes in the Slow Food philosophy or was there to learn about it. I met so many interesting people and loved all the workshops I attended. I also thought Denver was a perfect location. I had never been before, but the city is amazing. I spent time outside of the festival exploring local restaurants, indoor markets, farmers markets, etc, and loved the food culture I experienced and people I met.

KJ : Any Slow Food event of this nature is always so affirming for me. There are tons of people in Chicago (and beyond) doing great work towards the Slow Food ideals. But sometimes, it takes an event like this for them to cross paths and really connect. It's a chance to look around and recognize, all our work is not for naught. We are making a difference, each of us, in our own small ways. And it is gaining a critical mass. Sometimes getting that dose of reaffirmation is all you need to go home motivated to dig in a little deeper. I also thought Denver was a great location for the event - it is clearly a foodie city to begin with, but it is also a climate that is very different from my own midwestern experience. So it was fascinating to talk to people about the challenges growers, bakers and producers may face in the dry, humid climate. (A cheesemaker commented that some of her goats were winding up with skin cancer from loving to lounge and bask in the sun udders-up. With the elevation and being closer to the sun, they are at an increased risk.) I'm sure I would have still learned a ton if the conference had been closer to home, but it was fun to get into a different climate/time zone/locale.

What's something you learned about while in Denver that was not on your radar previously?

RL : I learned a lot about different processes ranging from production and scaling to packaging and shipping.

CC : I learned about eating insects at the Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch tasting booth! Although it was on my radar, I had not explored the topic in depth and it was interesting to talk to an expert and try out different insect concoctions like Kentucky fried crickets!

KJ : I learned a lot about cheese! As a baker, I have focused primarily on allergy friendly alternatives to common treats - which lead me to exploring a (sometimes) dairy free diet in my personal life. As I delve more into bread making, the overlap and similarities to beer making and cheese making become really apparent (fermentation - yeah!). So I was really interested in getting outside of my comfort zone and familiarity. I took a natural cheesemaking workshop with David Asher. Coming from the food world, I was aware of some of the prohibitive policies surrounding food production. But, I was a little stunned to learn that the most natural processes (i.e. with less chemical implementation and using natural vs. processed ingredients) for making cheese are technically illegal. Good on David for continuing to do what he does and spread the word so that these techniques are not lost, regardless!

Was there a break-out session, block party, lecture or overall experience that regenerated your enthusiasm for the Slow Food Movement? If so, what was it and how was it effective?

RL : I really enjoyed my session, A Tasting of American Charcuterie for the discussion, but the surprisingly fun part was the prep leading up to the session. I got to work closely with like minded colleagues, but in the same kitchen, both John Currence and Benedicta Alejo Vargas were prepping their events. Also, the party at Hearth and Dram was a lot of fun. Such a diverse mix of people!

CC : The Root to Leaf cooking class with Steven Satterfield was so inspiring and fun! We spent the morning shopping around the market with Steven and talking to the farmers about the unique varieties they grow. Then we went down to the kitchen and Steven prepared several dishes using every single part of the produce we had picked up at the market, from root to leaf: radishes, kale, turnips, carrots, edible flowers and herbs. He prepared grilled carrots with a carrot top, cilantro and parsley chermoula; duck rillete with kale stem crackers and a kale and edible flower topping; carrot top and turnip top green pasta with a white wine, parmesan and turnip sauce; and a frittatta (using the egg whites leftover from the egg yolks used in the pasta) with radish greens, radishes and edible flower topping. All the food was delicious and it was amazing to hear him talk about all the ways you can reduce waste in the kitchen! Another fabulous session was the Deeply Rooted documentary with John Coykendall. John has preserved over 500 varieties of near-extinct heirlooms, and this documentary is all about his efforts to save seeds and stories in Louisiana and Tennessee. The filmmaker and John were there for a Q&A after the doc, and it was so inspiring to hear his story!

KJ : The first night there, I attended the Big Eat. It featured local producers from throughout Denver, CO offering samples and promoting their products. Not only was it a great way to kick off the festivities, but it was so encouraging to see so many producers showing their support and interest in standing behind the Slow Food ideals (and maybe even planning on implementing procedures in their kitchens that reflect these ideals more closely in the future) - to start, so much compostable cutlery - yay! Attendees even got a small logo glass to carry around with them for beverage samples (no waste!). While the event featured no shortage of meat-focused tastes, I was thrilled to come across a completely plant-based cauliflower ceviche topped with a divine avocado crema and even a salted cucumber cider made with apples grown in Colorado and Michigan (that tasted like pickle juice - but in the best possible way - so inventive!). Experiencing the tastes and food of a new place - especially the ones that take you by surprise and are a little off the beaten path - is a great way to get energized about good, clean and fair! It all starts with what goes on our plates!

Photo credit : Chelsea Callahan.

Photo credit : Chelsea Callahan.

What was the best thing you ate while at Slow Food Nations (at the marketplace, The Big Eat, a Block Party or at a local restaurant)?

RL : The pasta with clams and the foie dishes at Old Major were outstanding, the blood sausage at Euclid Hall were excellent, and the Talbott ham that Bob Perry brought was unreal!

CC : This is a tough question! Everything I ate was amazing. It might be a tie with the chocolate almond croissant from Izzio Bakery and Steven Satterfield's carrot top and turnip top pasta!

KJ : For local eats, I had a stone fruit salad and yucca fries (it's all about balance, my friends) at a brewery that was down the street from where I was staying that was divine (they had great beer too)! But I think the best was the open air three sisters delegate lunch curated by Alice Waters - it simply couldn't be beat. Everyone participated in getting the dishes we were to be eating to our tables, which encouraged discussion and enjoyment of the meal (good). The meal highlighted corn, beans and squash and a method of growing where the 3 plants have a symbiotic relationship - the corn provides something for the beans to climb and grow on, etc (clean). A local school provided students as volunteers to help with the preparation of the meal so it could be a hands-on learning experience for them as well (fair). We ate corn tamales, black beans, roasted squash, greens salad, fresh apricots and cherries, and dark chocolate for dessert. It was simple, but perfect!

Can you provide an example of something you experienced while at SFN that you are excited to bring back with you as you continue your work at home?

RL : I feel a closer connection to a lot of great producers and foodstuffs. While my business is based on locally sourced goods, I feel like, as a food community, we should be supporting great product regardless of where it is produced.

CC : I want to build on the idea of eliminating waste in our own kitchens and at events. As I mentioned before, it was great to see a chef like Steven Satterfield really advocating for zero waste and using the whole plant. I want to do more education around this topic. At the end of the event, there was a Zero Waste family meal where Steven and other chefs prepared a whole meal with food that was leftover from the festival so that nothing would go to waste. This is a great concept that should happen at more big festivals and events!

KJ : Do I have to pick just one experience?! From hearing Carlo Petrini speak, to having a "three sisters" lunch orchestrated by Alice Waters, to a panel of chefs influencing policy and change (zero waste kitchens, transitioning to no-tip, etc), and even a discussion surrounding the prevalent deception on food labels and sometimes even at farmers markets - it's hard to choose just one eye-opening experience. But if I have to choose, I guess I'd say the live sourdough starter workshop I attended is the one I knew I would most immediately continue at home. I brought home the sourdough starter sample we were given (aka - smuggled it in my carry-on, totally worth it - it's at least 20 years old!), and just made a fresh naturally-leavened sourdough boule at home the other day. A little while back, I purchased a small stone mill that attaches to your kitchen aid mixer. The next step (given that I continue to keep the starter healthy and alive) is to mill my own flour from whole wheat berry grains (I picked up some Ark of Taste turkey red while I was on a weekend trip in Minnesota) for the next loaf I bake! Now that I have what I learned from that quick workshop to encourage me (and one pretty solid loaf under my belt), I'm going to keep experimenting! 

Photo credit : Chelsea Callahan.

Photo credit : Chelsea Callahan.

If you could sum up the celebration in a sentence or two, how would you describe your experience?

RL : My experience at Slow Food Nations brought into focus the broader community of artisan producers and folks working hard making culturally significant products more broadly available. That food is important as a tool to build communities but also to preserve culture and history.

CC : A celebration of good, clean and fair food, and a place to learn, feel inspired, and connect!

KJ : A confluence of eaters seeking to taste and adjust to more closely align with the ideals of good, clean and fair.


Slow Chicagoan Profile : Melissa Flynn of Green City Market

Melissa Flynn, Green City Market's acting Executive Director.

Melissa Flynn, Green City Market's acting Executive Director.

If you are a farmers market goer, most likely you've visited (or at the very least heard of) Green City Market. It is mecca for professional and home chefs alike, renowned for sourcing only the best from growers, farmers and purveyors who must be certified by an approved third party agency to ensure superior quality, environmental stewardship practices and sustainably focused processing. With a Link benefits matching program making Link and SNAP benefit dollars go even farther, and the expansion from their large Lincoln Park Saturday market to include a Sunday West Loop market and Thursday evening market at The Park at Wrigley - this commitment to keeping dollars circulating within the local economy, supporting local purveyors, sets Green City apart from the city's saturation of farmers markets. Read on for more about how they got started, the best part about working in this field, and Chicago where food economy has room for improvement.

How did Green City Market get started? How has GCM evolved since its beginning?

Green City Market was started in 1998 by Abby Mandel. After visiting Europe, and seeing their sustainable markets with world-class food, she thought Chicago was a world-class city that could implement a farmers market focused on local, seasonal produce. At first, Green City Market was a small market next to the Chicago Theatre with just nine local farmers. She begged all the local chefs of Chicago to come out to the market and support farmers. This was transformative to the Chicago culinary scene as many chefs started to focus on local, seasonal food for their menus.

Nearly twenty years later, Abby’s mission to bring local, sustainable and seasonal food to Chicago is ever-expanding and in full force. Green City Market has grown to almost 60 vendors. The market found a beautiful site for our largest location in Lincoln Park, continued with park settings in the West Loop in Mary Bartelme Park and Wrigleyville at the Park at Wrigley. Last year, we experienced crowds of over 175,000 visitors to our markets.

What would you be doing right now on a typical workday?

There is no typical day at Green City Market; every day is different. During the week, we split our time between our markets, our office and meetings. On a typical market day, I check in with our vendors, greet shoppers, and communicate with the community to provide the best possible market experience.

What’s the best part about your job? The hardest part?

The best part is working with the farmers and the shoppers. I learn something new from the farmers every market day. I also love the educational programs for kids.

The hardest parts of the job are balancing the competing priorities. There are so many opportunities for us to do more through education, access, and working with farmers.

Market fresh seasonal berries - cherries, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries!

Market fresh seasonal berries - cherries, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries!

What do you think is the biggest obstacle for Chicago’s food systems to overcome?

Chicago must overcome its limited accessibility to healthy food for all Chicagoans. Also, Chicago needs to improve its communication about how to buy directly from farmers, and the importance of buying direct and local. In this era, we constantly see advertisements for “sustainable food,” but there is no better way to ensure sustainability more than directly communicating with the people that grow your food and ask them about their growing practices.

How does your work relate to the Slow Food objectives (good, clean, + fair food)?

Our objectives align beautifully. As a non-profit that supports local food that is sustainably grown, we were one of the first farmers market in the country to require a third-party sustainability certification in order to be a vendor at our market. We empower local vendors by giving them a platform to sell their produce and products directly to shoppers and chefs.. We encourage people to create a meal together and cook incredible, local produce. There is nothing more unifying than gathering around a table of food that makes you feel good, and know that it comes from a good place.

What is your favorite Chicago (food related) social media account to follow (and why)?

We love to follow our vendors and other local Chicago accounts on social media. We keep in close contact with our vendors, so it’s great to get personal updates and social media updates to see what they’re up to. Not only are they our vendors, they’re also our family.

Doyenne d'Ete pears grown at Oriana's Oriental Orchard located in Skokie, IL.

Doyenne d'Ete pears grown at Oriana's Oriental Orchard located in Skokie, IL.

What wins for trendiest brunch item that you spread on toast - avocado mash or beet hummus?

My personal preference is avocado mash, but I’m torn because it isn’t local! If I had to choose a trendy market brunch, it would be a toasted baguette from Bennison’s Bakery with Prairie Fruits Chevre and Ellis Farms Honey.

What’s your favorite spot or dish that emulates your ideal of a good (for health and pleasure), clean (for the planet), + fair (in production and access for all) bite to eat in the city or suburbs (and why)?

The first spot that came to mind was Cellar Door Provisions -- they go above and beyond what it means to create good food. They do everything they can to source local and waste nothing. In my opinion, they are true to what is local and what is seasonal.

Why Chicago? If not Chicago, where would you like to do your work?

Chicago is where I was born and raised. I chose to raise my family here with my husband. It’s a dense urban setting with a great community and access to healthy, local, sustainable food. But, if not Chicago, I would go to Rome, Italy. My husband and I agreed to go to Rome when our last child starts College.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I feel so lucky to be a part of Green City Market and the work we’re doing, including doing collaborations with great organizations, such as Slow Food. I believe that working together we can make our local food system better.

Want to learn more about Green City Market? Follow along with what's growing, what's in season and the farm dinners, events and other programming coming up next!

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An Early Summer Ark of Taste Inspired Salad

As you may recall, Chef Katie Simmons (@chefkatiesimmons) cooked up a lovely end of season Brandywine tomato recipe that we featured on our blog as we got ready to say goodbye to outdoor farmers markets last year. Now that open air farmers markets are becoming part of our weekly routines again, Katie will be collaborating with us once again on some go-to recipes that we'll post throughout the season featuring Slow Food Midwest Ark of Taste ingredients. Her first recipe for a Turkey Red Winter Wheat Berry Cherry and Chard Salad is up first. Plus, head over to Katie's site - Plants-Rule, as she breaks down how Slow Food and the Ark of Taste seek to preserve delicious ingredients from extinction. The best way you can help? By eating them, and keeping them on your plates! And this early season salad is the perfect way to get started!

Turkey Red Winter Wheat Berry Cherry and Chard Salad

Turkey Red Winter Wheat Berries are part of the Ark of Taste movement to preserve and protect culturally significant foods that are in danger of extinction. Wheat Berries are the whole form of wheat, and they provide healthy protein and whole grain fiber in this hearty vegan salad. Red chard is braised oil-free with sweet apples, onion, and dried cherries for natural sweetness and fat-free flavor. This has the flavors of winter with the hope for spring color.

Servings: 6           Ready In: 70 minutes           Skill Level: Medium           Yield: 6 cups

Wheat berry cherry and chard salad by Chef Katie Simmons - Healthy, Whole Grain, Oil-Free, Plant-Based Vegan, and utilizing the bounty of the freshest ingredients the beginning of the farmers market season has to offer.  PHOTO COURTESY OF KATIE SIMMONS. SOURCE : PLANTSRULE.COM

Wheat berry cherry and chard salad by Chef Katie Simmons - Healthy, Whole Grain, Oil-Free, Plant-Based Vegan, and utilizing the bounty of the freshest ingredients the beginning of the farmers market season has to offer.



1.5 cups Turkey Hard Red Winter Wheat Berries

1 medium onion, diced

1 bunch chard, chopped

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup dried cherries

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper


Gather ingredients. Cook the Turkey Hard Red Winter Wheat Berries: place the wheat berries in a medium pot with 4 1/5 cups of water. Cover, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the wheat berries "pop," about 60 minutes. (Tip : Soft wheat berries usually cook faster than hard wheat berries, usually tender in just 30-40 minutes.) Next, braise the apples: heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. (No oil necessary.) Peel and dice the onion. Core and dice the apple. When the skillet is hot, add the onions and apples. Let sear for a few minutes, to caramelize and bring out the natural sugars.

Whole grain wheat berries will "pop" open when done cooking. It will look like small balls, resembling large couscous, and should be tender like rice.  PHOTO COURTESY OF KATIE SIMMONS. SOURCE : PLANTSRULE.COM

Whole grain wheat berries will "pop" open when done cooking. It will look like small balls, resembling large couscous, and should be tender like rice.


To prepare the chard: while the onions and apples sear, strip the chard leaves away from the stems. Set aside the leaves. Trim the chard stems and dice into 1/2-inch pieces. Rinse the diced chard stems under running water to wash off any grit. Roughly chop the chard leaves into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. Stir the caramelizing apples and onions every few minutes to ensure even browning. If the mixture seems like it's starting to burn, turn down your heat. You're looking for brown, caramel coloring. Once the apples and onions are brown all over, add the chard stems and let cook for 5-7 minutes. After the chard stems have some brown on the edges and the mixture starts to stick to the pan, add the cider vinegar. Using a spoon, scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the dried cherries followed by the chopped chard leaves. Cover and cook until the leaves are tender, at least 5 minutes. Let this keep cooking until your wheat berries are tender, up to 40-50 minutes more. Add water, as needed, to prevent burning. When the wheat berries are tender, they will plump up and "burst" open. Turn off the heat. When the chard leaves are tender, remove the lid. Let most of the liquid cook off. You want a fairly dry mixture. Combine the wheat berries with the chard mixture, walnuts, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and taste to adjust seasoning as desired.

Enjoy warm or at room temperature!

Chef's tip : You can use beautiful red chard for great color to compliment the dried cherries. You can also swap-in other dried fruits like apricot, golden raisins, and dried pears. Use yellow or white chard to compliment the color of dried fruit you prefer.  PHOTO COURTESY OF KATIE SIMMONS. SOURCE : PLANTSRULE.COM

Chef's tip : You can use beautiful red chard for great color to compliment the dried cherries. You can also swap-in other dried fruits like apricot, golden raisins, and dried pears. Use yellow or white chard to compliment the color of dried fruit you prefer.


Learn more about the catalog of ingredients listed on the Ark of Taste here.

Love the recipe? Follow along with personal chef, Katie Simmons (and learn why Plants-Rule) via the links below!

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preSERVE Garden - The First Volunteer Day of the Season

It's here. The first preSERVE Garden volunteer day of the season is upon us. We'll be weeding and otherwise prepping the garden for planting this growing season.

Images from the 2016 preSERVE Garden volunteer season.

Images from the 2016 preSERVE Garden volunteer season.

We don't want to jinx anything - but we're hoping for a morning of cooperation from the elements. Just in case, be sure to bring layers as well as closed toe shoes. If you have gardening gloves, a hat, and your own water bottle, those items are recommended as well. We will be sharing a small community picnic style meal after the hard work is done - so be sure to stick around after working up an appetite from digging around in the dirt.

Can't wait to celebrate the kickoff to the season with you!

Questions? Get in touch via slowfoodpreserve@gmail.com. 

When: Saturday, April 15th, 2017 // 10am-12pm (but be sure to stick around for the picnic lunch!)

Where: preSERVE Garden (1231 S Central Park Ave Chicago, IL 60623 / Map)

More Info: See also our event page and facebook invite. Dress appropriately (closed toe shoes and layers recommended) and bring gardening gloves, a hat and a water bottle if you have them. Feel free to bring a dish to share as well!

Food Book Club SKIN CLEANSE : Recap

Sending out a BIG thank you to those who were able to join us at March's Food Book Club meeting last week where we discussed Adina Grigore's book Skin Cleanse - and extra snaps to Native Foods Cafe in Wicker Park for being such welcoming and gracious hosts! Here's a little recap of what we discussed and some questions to ponder that came up. Have you come across more info since we met that you'd like to share (or did we forget something in our summary below)? Were you unable to join us and want to get in on the conversation? Let us know in the comments!

Salt scrub envy :  We came across this recipe shortly after our meeting. This salt scrub combo calls for the addition of lemongrass and is an image from the new book   Harvest : Unexpected Uses for Extraordinary Plants  .

Salt scrub envy : We came across this recipe shortly after our meeting. This salt scrub combo calls for the addition of lemongrass and is an image from the new book Harvest : Unexpected Uses for Extraordinary Plants.

  • Rule of Thumb : We suggest not putting anything on your skin (or in contact with your skin - think, laundry detergent, etc) that you wouldn't also ingest.
  • What have you DIY'd? : Our readers had already experimented with toothpaste, shampoo, and even deodorant (we especially love shampoo bars - like bars of soap, but for your hair and typically in minimal - if any - packaging, look for them online or at boutique shops). What else are you looking forward to making yourself? Do you find that you are wasting less packaging and disposable "stuff" now that you're incorporating some DIY products into your skin care routine? Want to delve more into the world of making your own everything...? Additional recommended reading is Making It : Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen. 
  • What about makeup...? : There are loads of tutorials and tips that you can find online. We're especially excited about (someday) making the transition to crafting our own mascara - here's one tutorial we've got our eye on (ha). What about eyeliner? Alison recommends Kajal - made with natural ingredients and soot.
  • DIY Salt Scrub : Fill a jar or container with a blend of sea salts of your preference (coarse salt, epsom salt, etc). Drizzle olive oil (or other oil of your choice) on top to coat. Add a few drops of essential oil (we recommend cinnamon as it is anti-inflammatory). Mix until well blended. Store in the shower and use as needed as a body scrub.
  • S.W. Basics : In addition to being an author, Adina Grigore is the found of S.W. Basics, an all-natural and sustainable skincare line based in Brooklyn. Adina has been known for saying what a beautiful thing it would be if her company went out of business because people were making her products themselves at home. Seeing as most products are made with minimal ingredients, many of which you can find in your pantry - we don't see why not! But, when life gets in the way, her products are available for purchase online or at most Target stores.
  • Essential Oils : There are many out there - but they have a myriad of uses and purposes. Lavender is said to be calming, cinnamon is known for being anti-inflammatory, and oregano is said to be anti-viral (rub this on the bottom of your feet with a combination of olive, jojoba or coconut oil when you have a cold and it just might help you get better faster by drawing some of the toxins out). They can be used in your DIY beauty products, on your skin, or put in a diffuser. We also discussed how many of these essential oils elicit similar results "on the outside" as they would if you were to ingest them (as their original whole ingredients), which lead us to bringing up ayurvedic nutrition or, a holistic approach to health and wellness that depends on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Want to learn more? We recommend starting with the book, The Wheel of Healing with Ayurveda by Michelle S. Fondin.

Food Book Club : March Edition

Join us this Thursday as we discuss March's Food Book Club read delving into to arena of "slow living" by talking about the connections between the food we eat and it's affects on skin health - as well as using whole foods as potential "products" for beauty and skin care. "Skin Cleanse : The Simple, All-Natural Program for Clear, Calm, Happy Skin" is a guidebook to skin health written by Adina Grigore, founder of natural skin care company, S.W. Basics. Looking for a cleaner (and greener) approach to the care of your body's largest organ - your skin? We'll be covering it all! Slow Food Chicago board member, Alison Parker (owner of Radical Root Organic Farm) will be leading us through a Do-It-Yourself demonstration on how to make your own salt scrub (perfect for getting rid of some of that dry, wintery skin). Want to bring some home with you? Don't forget to BYOJ (bring-your-own-jar)! Want to join us? Full event details below.

When : Thursday, March 30th, 2017 // 6:30pm-8pm

Where : Native Foods Wicker Park // 1484 N Milwaukee Ave (map)

What : Slow Food Chicago's March edition of Food Book Club where we will be discussing the book "Skin Cleanse" by Adina Grigore.

Cost : Free to attend! Please note, space as this event is somewhat limited so we do recommend that you RSVP in advance by emailing Katie at katie.johnson@slowfoochicago.org with the subject "Skin Cleanse" and the number of people you are responding for. 

Slow Meat: Holiday 2016 Edition

The holiday season is fast approaching, and whichever holiday(s) you celebrate it will almost certainly include sharing special meals with family and friends.  While we all have our unique traditions, we know that quality and provenance of the food you enjoy is important to our Slow Food friends and members. 

If your holiday meal includes meat, we ask you to consider where that is coming from, and how it was raised.

Slow Food USA, along with Slow Food International, have been working on an important initiative, "Slow Meat".  This movement encourages eaters to help "turn the herd away from the tyranny of cheap meat and toward a food system that is good, clean and fair for all" .

Here is list of farms that work toward that goal; bringing local and regionally raised meat to Chicago for your holiday celebrations.

Pasture raised Turkeys at gunthorp farms

Pasture raised Turkeys at gunthorp farms

Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm

Meats available: Broad-breasted White turkeys
Weight Range 16-20 lbs (limited number of < 15 lbs available)
Pick-up locations/dates: November 19.  Eight pick-up locations available (click here for the full list).
On-farm pickup: by appointment
Location of farm: 1985 N 3690th Rd Ottawa, IL
Phone: 815-431-9544
E-mail: cdrvalleyfarm@gmail.com
Website: www.chicagomeatcsa.com
Farmer comments: Cedar Valley Sustainable is partnering with our friends at Gunthorp Farms to bring you fresh, pasture raised turkey just in time for Thanksgiving!

Garden Gate Farm, Doug & Beth Rinkenberger

Breeds available: Broad-breasted White
Weight Range: 8-26 lbs.
Price per lb.: $3.50
Other meats available: FRESH turkeys sometimes available after Thanksgiving.
Deposit required: no
Delivery: Customer pick-up, only at the farm.
Location of farm: 6423 N 2300 E, Fairbury, IL 61739
Phone: 1-815-848-3518
E-mail: dougrink68@icloud.com 
Website: ~ 
Farmer comments: We raise our daughters and our livestock on a century old dairy farm here in rural Fairbury. We raise a large variety of vegetables and herbs, as well as pork and turkeys. Our birds have been on the menus of several Chicago restaurants including Old Town Social, The Girl and the Goat, Omni Hotel, and the Bristol.

Hasselmann Family Farm, Scott & Nena Hasselmann

Meats Available: Turkey, pork, beef, lamb, ham roasts, chicken
Deposit required: No
Pick-up locations:  Palatine farmers market 
Pick-up dates: Saturday November 19.
On-farm pickup? Yes, preferred. After Nov. 5
Location of farm: 23706 Harmony Rd., Marengo, IL 60152
Phone:  815 572 4833
E-mail: hasselmannfarm@gmail.com
Website:  www.hasselmannfarm.com  
Farmer comments: All our produce and livestock are raised outdoors on pasture, in harmony with the natural environment.


Mint Creek Farm, Harry, Gwen, Jonathan, & Raya Carr

Breeds Available: Black Spanish, Broad-breasted Bronze, & Broad-breasted White
Weight Range: Small (7-12lbs), Medium (12-17lbs), Large (17-21lbs)
Price per lb.: $7/lb for black$7/lb for bronze, & $6/lb for white
Deposit required: yes
Pickup Locations:  10 Chicago pickup locations available.  Click here for the full list.
Location of farm: 1693 E 3800 N. Road, Stelle, IL
Other Meats Available: Organic pasture-raised lamb, goat, beef, pork, duck, turkey, chicken, eggs, and meat & dairy CSA shares
Phone: 815-953-5682
E-mail: mintcreekfarm@gmail.com
Website: www.mintcreekfarm.com
Farmer comments: 
This holiday season we are raising two heritage breeds of turkeys, the black & the bronze, as well as classic white turkeys. We recommend trying the Black Aztec (Spanish) breed of turkey, as it is the most heritage breed on the market today. These black turkeys were first domesticated by the Aztecs! Black Aztec birds are a joy to raise, and very good at pasture foraging, with rich, buttery tasting, and balanced, full-flavor meat. Note that the bird is smaller than conventional, so you may need two instead of one. Try one or two black Aztec birds this Thanksgiving to help keep this heritage breed on the map as still raised in the Midwest! 

That being said, all of our turkeys, black, bronze, and white are raised very differently than conventional birds. No matter which breed of ours you choose it will help support humanely raised turkeys! The birds are moved every few days from paddock to paddock of fresh grass and legume pastures with Certified-Organic, non-GMO, small-batch-mixed, soyfree grain supplement. This lush pasture in addition to the highest quality, purest feed supplements result in an unparalleled turkey: both the turkey’s flavor and the health benefits gained by the bird, farm ecosystem, and consumer are huge.


Organic Pastures, Marilyn & Larry Wettstein

Breeds Available: Broad-breasted Bronze
Weight Range: 8 – 22 lbs
Price per lb.: $4.39
Deposit required: no
Pick-up locations: Nov 19 , Immanuel Lutheran Church, Evanston, corner of Sherman & Lake, 9am – 1pm
On-farm pickup? Yes
Location of farm: 669 County Road 1800E, Eureka, IL 61530
Other meats available: Lamb, beef, pork, chicken,  & eggs, all certified organic
Phone: 309-467-6006
E-mail: wettsteinorganic@gmail.com
Farmer comments: We are a small family farm that has been certified organic since 1997. Our turkeys are organic with plenty of pasture for open grazing. They are in a shelter at night, and during the day they peck and scratch as they please.

We farm 250 tillable acres and 250 pasture/timber acres, all organically certified. We rotate a variety of field crops including corn, soybeans, oats, flax, wheat, sunflower, vetch, rye, alfalfa, and clovers, and also raise organic beef, pork, chicken, turkeys, and laying hens. We truly believe that as stewards of the soil, it is our responsibility to provide the healthiest food possible.


Plain View Turkey Farm, Dan Schmucker

Breeds Available: Broad-breasted White, Certified Organic
Weight Range: 13 – 20 lbs
Price per lb.: $4.99/lb
Deposit required: No
Pick-up location:  Fresh Picks warehouse, 5625 W Howard St, Niles, IL.
Home Delivery can be arranged, with Fresh Picks, 847-410-0595
On-farm pickup? No
Location of farm: S-453 County Rd D, Cashton, WI 54619
Phone: 847-410-0595, 
Website https://www.freshpicks.com/thanksgivingturkeys2016
Ordering E-mail: answers@freshpicks.com
Farm E-mail: Amish, no email.
Website: None.


TJ’s Pastured Free Range Poultry, Tim & Julie Ifft

Breeds Available: Broad-breasted White and Broad-breasted Bronze
Weight Range: 10 – 23 lbs
Price per lb.: $3.99/lb (white)
Deposit required: yes, $10 when pre-ordering
Pick-up locations:  Dill Pickle Food Co-Op
Pick-up dates: November 19 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
On-farm pick-up: Yes, Farm pickup any day after November 15th – call for arrangements
Location of farm: 2773N 1500E Rd., Piper City, IL 60959
Other meats available: chicken, fresh eggs
Phone: 815-686-9200 or 815-848-8961 (cell)
E-mail: tji4@maxwire.net
Website: ~
Farmer comments: TJ’s has been raising turkeys for approximately 10 years. The turkeys are pastured free range on chemical free pasture. Their diet consists of no antibiotics, hormones or animal by-products.


Triple S Farms, Stan & Ryan Schutte

Breeds Available: Broad-breasted Bronze
Weight Range: 8 – 26 lbs
Price per lb.: $4.37-$6.13/lb, depending on weight
Deposit required: no
Pick-up locations and dates: Contact Triple S Farms for delivery information
Location of farm: 3078 County Highway 33, Stewardson IL 62463
Other Meats Available:  Pork, beef, chicken
Phone: 217-343-4740
E-mail contact: stan@triplesfarms.com
Farmer comments: Triple S Farms is a certified organic, family-owned 200 acre farm in East central Illinois, an hour south of Champaign. Our turkeys are raised on pasture without hormones, antibiotics, or GMO feed.

Work at Triple S Farm is a family affair. Stan’s son, Owner Stan Schutte works together with his son, Ryan, co-owner, who oversees production. Jannie is in charge of marketing. Three other employees make Triple S Farm work- Quinton and Cam work with the animals as herd manager and Jackie is operations manager and does whatever needs done including sales, production, inventory, packing, invoicing and office work.  We have a great team working together to provide the highest quality meats straight from our farm to your dinner table.


Wettstein Organic Farm, Emily & Dennis Wettstein

Breeds Available: Broad-breasted White
Other meats available: Pork, beef, lamb and chicken
On-farm pickup? Yes
Location of farm: 2100 US Hwy 150, Carlock, IL 61725
Pick-up location: Meats are delivered throughout the winter to Oak Park, at the Buzz Cafe
email  https://www.freshpicks.com/thanksgivingturkeys2016 for schedule.
Phone: 309-376-7291
E-mail: dennis@wettsteinorganicfarm.com
Website: ~
Farmer comments: Emily and Denny sell certified organic beef, pork, poultry and eggs directly to customers, at the summer Oak Park Farmers Market, at the Buzz Cafe in winter, and all year from their on-farm storehouse. They also raise organic soybeans, corn and other grains that they make into feed for all their animals, and for selling to neighboring organic livestock and dairy farmers.

“We enjoy everything we do on the farm,” says Denny. “The most encouraging change we’ve seen since 1985,” says Emily, “is that more and more people are coming to us for their food. City people are coming back to the farms with their own children to learn where their food comes from and how it is grown.” Denny adds, “Our experience over the past 20 years with organic farming has restored our love of farming and given us the hope that the future of farming, if we continue to think outside the conventional box, is very promising.”
- Excerpted from a profile at www.farmaid.org





An End of Summer Tomato Recipe

Looking for a recipe to use up the last bits of tomatoes you gathered from the farmers market last weekend? The following recipe was created by Chef Katie Simmons. You can find heirloom varieties of tomatoes (like these Ark of Taste Sudduth Strain Brandywine tomatoes) at your local farmers market. These tomatoes were gathered from the Nichols Farm stand at the Lincoln Park Green City Market. I don't know about you, but after all the deliciousness that was enjoyed  this past weekend at the Farm Roast, I can't wait to get back in kitchen and cook up some everlasting tastes of summer before it slips away.

These tomatoes are one of the many unique foods in danger of extinction. One of the best ways to help prevent this from happening, is to eat them! By eating heirloom varieties and ingredients, livestock and dishes from the ark of taste catalog, you are encouraging producers to grow/raise them - and chefs to incorporate them into their menus. You can learn more about Ark of Taste, the Slow Food movement and what you can do to actively save these ingredients at: Slow Food USA.


Juicy Brandywine tomatoes are one of the best-tasting heirloom tomatoes, with an intense, deep flavor. They make the perfect vehicles for this classic vegetarian Greek recipe. In this healthful, gluten-free version, cauliflower replaces traditional rice. It's a true vegetarian delight! 

Servings: 4            Ready In: 20 minutes            Yield: 8 tomatoes

Photo courtesy of Katie Simmons. Source : PlantsRule.com

Photo courtesy of Katie Simmons. Source : PlantsRule.com


8 medium Sudduth Strain Brandywine tomatoes
1 medium head cauliflower
1 small onion
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 Tbsp currants
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper


-Gather ingredients. 

-To prepare the tomatoes: Working over a medium bowl, use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and ribs. Remove as much of the juices and seeds as you can, into the bowl. Place the scooped out tomatoes aside.

-To make the Cauliflower "Rice" Stuffing : trim the green leaves off the cauliflower and roughly cut into large chunks. Set up the grater blade on your food processor, with the wider holes facing up. Place the cauliflower in the opening of the food processor and run through the grater. In a wide pan, toast the pine nuts over medium-low heat 3-5 minutes, just until golden brown. Remove from the heat and place in a large mixing bowl. 

-Place the grated cauliflower into the pan, along with the oregano. Saute over medium heat, 5-7 minutes, just until the cauliflower softens and starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Stir often to prevent burning. Remove the cauliflower from the pan, adding to the mixing bowl with the pine nuts. Return the pan to the heat.

-Peel and dice the onion. Roughly chop the scooped out tomato ribs. Add the chopped tomato and diced onion to the pan. Cook, partially covered, over medium-high, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove the lid and cook off the excess juices for another 3-4 minutes. The tomato onion mixture should have just a little bit of juice, but the onions and tomatoes should be completely soft. Use a spatula to break up any large tomato chunks. 

-Roughly chop the parsley.

-In the large mixing bowl, combine the toasted pine nuts, cauliflower "rice", tomato onion mixture, chopped parsley, currants, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine and taste to adjust seasoning.

-Fill each of the tomatoes with the Cauliflower "Rice" mixture. Use your hands to really compact the mix as tightly as you can. Serve and enjoy!

Chef's Tips: These taste delicious served slightly warm or at room temperature. If served too hot, the fresh flavor of the tomatoes gets lost. You can also make these with short grain brown rice or quinoa.

Photo courtesy of Katie Simmons. Source : PlantsRule.com

Photo courtesy of Katie Simmons. Source : PlantsRule.com

Learn more about the catalog of ingredients listed on the Ark of Taste here.

Love the recipe? Follow along with personal chef, Katie Simmons (and learn why Plants Rule) via the links below!

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Tumblr / Pinterest / YouTube

Chicago Humanities Festival Goes Slow

Chicago Humanities Festival Goes Slow

The Chicago Humanities Festival - an annual gathering of ideas, humanities, and exploration - is taking on the theme of Speed this fall. So naturally, they're also exploring the counterpoint of speed - slowing down. They're inviting us all to take a pause (if we can) between October 29 - November 12, to explore speeding up, slowing down, the push and pull on our pace of life... including Slow Food! 



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    Why Your Farm Roast Ticket is More Than Just a Ticket

    We're just about a week away from the annual Slow Food Farm Roast. It's our celebration of the best of the season. September is the month of abundance in the midwest and I love when chefs, producers, brewers, and folks who love good, wholesome food come together to celebrate the bounty.

    The Farm Roast allows Slow Food Chicago the ability to send representatives to Slow Food's conference in Italy, known as Terra Madre. It is here that farmers, producers, advocates, and eaters from all over the world come together to work on issues from climate change to over fishing to how to eat more thoughtfully in a rapidly changing landscape. One farmer who will represent Chicago is named Brian Ellis. He's been farming for Growing Power since he was 15-years-old. Brian grew up in Cabrini Green as both the high-rise and mid-rise housing came down. He's intimately familiar with changing landscapes, and while the world he had known since birth was literally falling down around him, he stepped up and helped create an oasis of a community garden in the center of the chaos for himself, his friends, and his community. I am sure that 15-year-old Brian never imagined that he would be representing black farmers from the US to the world through Slow Food International, but because of your generosity and support of Slow Food Chicago, he will be doing just that at the end of September.

    The Farm Roast is more than just a good time (although, let's be clear, it's a really good time). The funds raised allows our Chicago community to connect with communities across the globe to fight for good, clean, and fair food for all.  Resilience comes through connection, and we hope to connect with you over a delicious beer and a slice of pie come September 11th.

    -Laurell Sims

    Slow Food Chicago Board of Directors

    Photos courtesy of Brian Ellis.

    Photos courtesy of Brian Ellis.