Slow Food Discount Partner Profile : Indie Coffee Passport

We were fortunate to get to have a chat with Dori Rubin of Indie Coffee Passport Chicago - the generous discount partner for Slow Food Chicago members during the month of December. That's right. Discount coffee. There are plenty of "perks" to being a Slow Food Chicago member. (pun intended) Exploring the world of coffee is just one of them. Read on to see how Dori's coffee fueled company relates to the Slow Food mission of Good, Clean, Fair - and why you're going to want to get in on this discount.

What was the idea behind Indie Coffee Passport? How did you start? 

Indie Coffee Passport Chicago is a concept that gives customers the opportunity to discover Chicago's independent coffee culture. The idea is simple. Purchase a passport for $25 and get one coffee or tea drink (up to $5 menu price) at each of the 22 participating coffee shops across the city.

Originally started in Toronto, this project has gotten coffee lovers in the door and outside their stomping grounds since 2010. I first got involved when visiting a friend in Toronto. I was immediately hooked on the concept and made it my mission to bring it here to Chicago. After a successful first round last year, we're back for round two!

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

My days are interesting because I run the coffee passport and also have a full time job working in market research. Indie Coffee Passport is a passion project for me. It started as a labor of love in Toronto and that couldn't be truer of my situation as well. I run around to the shops on the weekends and fill orders in the evenings. No day is typical, but most are eventful!

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

I love hearing the stories of the new places people have tried and how excited they are to share. If I can provide an excuse for someone to go to a neighborhood they've never explored or make a coffee date with a friend, I'm thrilled. There are so many positive consequences of joining the Indie Coffee Passport community. Any reminder of that makes the whole busy existence well worth the while.

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

As with any small business or local establishment, I think it's hard to change people's perspective away from what's easy. People look for convenience and that's not always what's best. It's easy to swing by a Starbuck's to pick up a latte, but the experience in an independent shop can be entirely more fulfilling in expected and unexpected ways.

How does Indie Coffee Passport's work relate to the Slow Food objectives (good, clean, fair)?

The whole basis of the coffee passport is community and connection with your local surroundings. The independent coffee community in Chicago is worth taking note of. Participating shop owners are invested in their neighborhoods and often create more than just a space to serve coffee. Live music, poetry readings, art displays, and meeting areas are a few examples of how the Indie Coffee Passport experience goes so far beyond 22 high quality 'free' coffees.

What do you think is in store for 2016's trendiest food item - kale's successor?

I'm always pushing coffee. :) I'm amazed at the art form it has become and can only assume it will get more exciting from here.

Why Chicago? If not Chicago, where?

Chicago is the perfect place for the Indie Coffee Passport program. The amount of amazing independent shops that are in the city is incredible and the level of product being produced is top notch. The neighborhood orientated nature of Chicago adds to the exploration piece and provides the perfect backdrop for caffeinated adventures. Plus, it's my home! There are a few other American cities with passport programs in the works. ICP Washington, DC launches December 1st as well!

What is your favorite Chicago food related social media account to follow? (Can't be first, because of course, SFC is your first favorite.)

I'm of course going to self-promote @indiecoffeepassport. Who doesn't like pictures of beautiful lattes?

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your business?

I think that covers it! I so appreciate the opportunity to be featured on the blog and through the member discount program. Slow Food enthusiasts seem like perfect coffee passport candidates and I love that the communities are coming together.

Want more latte art and coffee culture? Follow ICP via the links below.

Website / Instagram / Facebook / Twitter

Slow Food Chicago Board Alumni Profile : Jeanne Calabrese

Ready for another Slow Food Chicago board member alumni profile? Thought so. Today, we're highlighting our chat with Jeanne Calabrese. She gets right to the heart of the matter - talking about when she first heard about the movement in Italy, her involvement in Chicago with educational programming and how she still lives and breathes "good, clean, and fair". Read all about it!

Why did you join the Slow Food Chicago board? How did you learn about it and what motivated you to get involved?

I first learned about the movement in 2007 when I attended a lecture given by Carlo Petrini in Chicago in 2007. He was on a book tour promoting his book "Good, Clean and Fair." I was delighted to learn there was an existing group (Slow Food) that subscribed to the lifestyle and principles I felt passionate about. I began attending the Chicago chapter's gatherings, volunteering for their events, and getting to know the Chicago members. Shortly after this, I was asked to serve on the board.

What project or initiative are you most proud of during your time with Slow Food Chicago?

My main focus on the board was developing educational programming. We did this through a series of lectures, events and workshops including cooking, food preservation and tree grafting. These programs were and continue to be successful. By empowering people with this knowledge we promote food security and ensure these skills are not lost.

What are you up to these days?

I've been working on an urban micro-orchard in my yard. It allows me to experiment with organic growing techniques and hone my grafting and propagating skills. I grow Liberty and Sweet 16 apples, paw paws, Korean Giant, Shin Li and Naju Asian pears, a variety of currants, berries and small tree fruits along with seasonal vegetables and herbs.

Does Slow Food still impact your work, life, eating habits? Tell us more!

The basic principles behind the Slow Food philosophy is engrained in my own personal philosophy. I support local food growers and I grow myself. I have perfected a few food preservation techniques and I am always learning more. My larder is stocked and it's so nice to crack open a jar of summer tomatoes in the middle of winter or a jar of fermented fall fruits and vegetables to extend the seasons.

Good, Clean, Fair. What does this mean to you?

My talking points have always been simple:

good = our food should taste good

clean = we should grow in a way that does not harm the environment

fair = we should pay the people who grow/produce/cook food for us a fair wage

What advice would you give people who want to get more involved with Slow Food? Where can they start?

Start by examining your own approach to eating. Get to know the folks who grow and produce your food. Ask where and how it was grown. Support local farmers and eat in season. Get to know your local chapter and check out an event or two.

Anything else you want to tell us that we missed?

I sit on the Midwest Ark of Taste committee and I believe it's some of the most important work Slow Food is doing today. The Ark of Taste is a living catalog of delicious and distinctive foods facing extinction. By identifying and championing these foods we keep them in production and on our plates. The Ark of Taste is a tool for farmers, ranchers, fishers, chefs, grocers, educators and consumers to seek out and celebrate our country's diverse biological, cultural and culinary heritage.

Keep up with Jeanne on instagram (@barefeats) to see how she lives Good, Clean and Fair.

Slow Food Chicago Board Alumni Profile : Elizabeth David

This week, we are continuing with our feature of Slow Food Chicago board member alums. It's a chance to get a sneak peek at what it means to be a board member, taps you into the magic behind the Chicago team (past and present), and gives us all a chance to catch up with previous board members and see what they're up to now. Our board and membership might not be what it is today if not for those who blazed the trail before us...! Today's profile is Elizabeth David - who we caught up with to chat about her experience with Slow Food in Chicago and beyond, and she catches us up on what she's up to now. Read on!

Why did you join the Slow Food Chicago board? How did you learn about it and what motivated you to get involved?

I was really engaged with Slow Food Chicago volunteering and teaching canning workshops. I wanted to make a bigger impact in our local food community in Chicago and help to create some of the great programs I got to see at Slow Food events.

What project or initiative are you most proud of during your time with Slow Food Chicago?

My tenure on the Slow Food board was short because I moved and am now on the board in my new town. However, as a volunteer I taught many successful canning workshops.

What are you up to these days?

I moved to Whidbey Island, Washington. It's a food mecca where we can fish all sorts of shellfish and salmon, buy grass fed beef from a local farm stop on the side of the road at a farm stand to grab eggs or produce or find a farmers market just about anywhere on the Island. It's a food heaven and we even have a Slow Food board which I am on. I built them a website, now I am working on new events like a cooking class series and a food trivia night.

When I find time to get paid for work, I am an event planner at a non-profit called Goosefoot Community Fund and doing food system research. I also work part-time as an associate editor for our local arts and lifestyle magazine, Whidbey Life Magazine, where I will soon be a food writer and blogger as well.

Does Slow Food still impact your work, life, eating habits? Tell us more!

Duh! No just kidding. Yes, it's very important to me - my husband is a farmer now and so it's in our blood and our household.

Good, Clean, Fair. What does this mean to you?

These ideas are deeply embedded with me in my daily life and the work that I do. Good means food through community. Clean means producing it in a way that gives health back to our land. And fair means that all who were involved in producing the food were paid and treated rightly and that good food is accessible.

What advice would you give people who want to get more involved with Slow Food? Where can they start?

Check online for events and programs. There is so much to learn, so many opportunities to engage in and Slow Food will tell you just what's happening. Then from there you can choose if you feel like picking up a shovel or learning a new cooking method.

Anything else you want to tell us that we missed?

Nothing else except that you all have an AWESOME food community in Chicago and Slow Food Chicago is such a great site.


Slow Food Book Club : Four Fish

Slow Food Chicago and Graze Magazine are at it again. The next food book club is coming at you in just one week - on Tuesday November 17th. Beermiscuous will be the gracious host (again) - where the book Four Fish by Paul Greenberg will be discussed. Greenberg explores the four most common fish - salmon, sea bass, cod and tuna - and will explain how they get to your plate, along with the concept of sustainable seafood. Sound good? Good. Details are below. You won't want to miss it. And you won't be able to afford to miss it either - because as always food book club is free! ...yet priceless.

The cover of  Four Fish  by Paul Greenberg - this month's food book club book.

The cover of Four Fish by Paul Greenberg - this month's food book club book.

When : Tuesday, November 17, 2015; 6:00pm-8:00pm

Where : Beermiscuous 2812 N Lincoln Ave Chicago, IL 60657 (855) 450-2337 (map)

Details : Join us for another food book club at Beermiscuous hosted by SFC and the fine folks at graze magazine for a discussion about Paul Greenberg's Four Fish. The discussion is free. Beverages (i.e. beer) available for purchase. Feel free to bring a snack or dish to pass and share!

Cost : FREE

Slow Food Chicago Board Alumni Profile : Megan Larmer of Slow Food USA

Do you ever find yourself wondering, what it might be like to be on the Slow Food Chicago Board? There just so happen to be some spots opening up - and if you've ever given it some thought, now is your chance to apply. Or, if you've never considered it, this profile will make you realize that you should. Like, yesterday. Megan Larmer is a former member of the Slow Food Chicago board and currently works for Slow Food USA in the big apple. She is a testament that your passion can indeed converge with your career - in big ways. If you've ever met Megan, you know she is a force - and her good vibes will inspire you to be, do, and live - better, just by being in the same room as her. We are fortunate enough that Megan gave us some time to dish on her experience on the Chicago board as well as how Good, Clean, Fair applies to way more than just food.

Why did you join the Slow Food Chicago Board (i.e. how did you learn about it and what motivated you to get involved)?

I was so moved by the generosity and encouragement I received from people on the Slow Food board - they supported the orchard project I was helping with by sending us to Italy for Terra Madre, hosted fundraising events and connected us with other experts for advice - that when they suggested I apply I was flattered and thrilled. I joined to be around these awesome people and to pay forward all I was lucky enough to receive.

North American delegates (including Megan Larmer, center) in Italy.

North American delegates (including Megan Larmer, center) in Italy.

What project or initiative are you most proud of during your time with Slow Food Chicago?

I'm proudest of the community canning classes that we led. The series of classes connected Slow Food with the general public, taught people about seasonality, and was a great way to build relationships with and support local farmers by buying the produce from them that may not have been sellable at market. Also, it was fun and delicious, like everything Slow Food Chicago does!

What are you up to these days?

I'm living in Brooklyn, working at the Slow Food national office. It's a great chance to see the real impact of our work on the global and national scale. Most of all it has impressed upon me even further how unique we are as a volunteer network that truly acts locally and thinks globally.

Does Slow Food Still impact your work, life, eating habits?

Um - yeah. So, I am lucky enough that Slow Food is both my passion and my job. My involvement with Slow Food has definitely transformed the way I eat for the better. Even more, it has given me friends in fields, markets, and restaurants all over the world. I travel often, and find the connections made during my time on the board in Chicago continue to guide me down exciting new paths across the globe.

Good, Clean, Fair. What does this mean to you?

This is the ideal that I seek to achieve in food, but also in life. It means that the ultimate goal of any dish or project is to bring together pleasure, sustainability, and justice. When all three elements are there, they heighten each other to become a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

What advise would you give people who want to get more involved with Slow Food? Where can they start?

It's easy! Follow along on social media, join a potluck, or book club. Pitch in at a crop mob or go to a dinner and ask other folks there about Slow Food. Face to face connection is the real strength of the Slow Food movement, and there's no better way to begin to learn about the vast and incredible work this global, grassroots network is doing. So, show up and start asking questions! Slow Food people almost always have the gift of gab, so don't be shy.

Anything else you want to tell us that we may have missed?

I miss you Chicago! Now, I obviously can't play favorites, but let me just say that the Slow Food Chicago chapter is pretty stellar and wherever I live, I always consider my own local chapter.

Did Megan's profile make you hungry for more? Keep up with the movement at Slow Food USA via the below links.

Facebook / Instagram / Website

Slow Meat: Holiday Edition 2015

For many of us holidays are about connecting with family and friends.  We share food and time and stories around the holiday table.  Here at Slow Food we encourage you to know the story of your food as well.  By buying from local producers, you know how the animals you're eating were raised, and you help an independent farmer put food on his or her table.

Below you'll find a list of farms that offer a variety of meats for your holiday enjoyment!

Centennial Farm, Jill & Will Cummings

Breeds/Meats Available: Muscovy Duck
Weight Range: ~
Price per lb.: Call
Deposit required: no
Pick-up locations: We are 1½ hours south of Chicago and offer farm pickup. However, drop off in Chicagocan be arranged.
Location of farm: 708 E 2300 North Rd, Danforth, IL 60930
Phone: 815-269-2003
Farmer comments: We are the 4th generation and our four daughters are the 5th generation to farm and live on the homestead established by our great-grandfather in 1898. We raise all-natural hormone-free milking goats, and use their milk to make organic soaps.

Garden Gate Farm, Doug & Beth Rinkenberger

Breeds available: Broad-breasted White
Weight Range: 6-21 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
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.

Franzen Farms, Chris Franzen

Breeds Available: Standard Bronze, Broad Breasted White, Bourbon Red (Heritage Breed)
Weight Range: ~
Price per lb.: $4.00 – $6.00/lb
Deposit required: Yes
Pick-up location: At the farm ONLY, weekend before Thanksgiving
Location of farm: 18232 W. Ballou Rd, Wilmington, IL, 60481
Phone: 815-405-2713
Farm E-mail:
Farmer comments: We are a small family owned farm located in Wilmington, IL. We raise Heritage Bourbon Red, Heritage Standard Bronze and Big Breasted White Turkeys. Our heritage turkeys are listed in the Ark of Taste and are NPIP certified. All of our birds are pasture raised with plenty of oom to roam and graze on grasses, alfalfa, and bugs. Baby day old poults (chicks) are available in the spring if you wish to raise your own or enjoy a Franzen Fresh Heritage Turkey for your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner this year. We also raise Ringneck and Melanistic pheasants. Don’t wait until the last minute to reserve your birds. Call Chris at (815) 405-2713 to reserve now!

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 21st.
On-farm pickup? Yes
Location of farm: 23706 Harmony Rd., Marengo, IL 60152
Phone:  815 572 4833
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
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.

Nature’s Choice Farm, Eric & Samantha Sexton

Breeds Available: Broad-breasted White
Weight Range: 16 – 22 lbs
Price per lb.: $5.00
Other products available: Grass-fed beef, pasture raised pork, chicken, eggs. Also a year-round meat & egg CSA
Deposit required: Yes. Can purchase directly on the farm website. 
Pick-up locations: Frankfort, IL, and Bolingbrook, IL
Pick-up dates: Delivery dates are still to be determined.
On-farm pickup? Yes
Location of farm: Grant Park, IL
Phone: 815-472-2934
Farmer comments: We believe animals should be raised naturally on green pasture with plenty of open space. Our turkeys roam the entire farm along with pigs, chickens, and cattle. Our beef is completely grass-fed, and we do not feed hormones or antibiotics to any of our livestock.

Organic Pastures, Marilyn & Larry Wettstein

Breeds Available: Broad-breasted Bronze
Weight Range: 10 – 22 lbs
Price per lb.: $4.39
Deposit required: no
Pick-up locations: Nov 21, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Evanston, corner of Sherman & Lake, 8am – 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
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.

Painted Rock Farms, LLC

Breeds Available: Bronze breasted
Weight Range:12-20

Price per lb.: $4.95/#
Deposit required: no
Pick-up locations/dates: TBD home delivery for $10.

On-farm pickup? No
Other meats available: all proteins
Location of farm:
 We are a farm collective. We are mostly around central Wisconsin.

Farmer comments: Painted Rock Farms is a small-medium farm collective in Wisconsin.  70% of our farmers are women. We raise pasture heritage proteins for your plate. :)

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 / website: 847-410-0595,
Ordering E-mail:
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) and $4.49/lb (bronze)
Deposit required: yes, $10 when pre-ordering
Pick-up locations:  Dill Pickle Food Co-Op
Pick-up dates: 
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)
Website: ~
Farmer comments: TJ’s has been raising turkeys for approximately 9 years. The turkeys are pastured free range on chemical free pasture. Their diet consists of no antibiotics, hormones or animal by-products. The farm is Certified Food Alliance.

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:
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.

Twin Oak Meats, Tom & Amy Ifft

Meats Available: Boneless/Bone-In Hams; Boneless Honey-Glazed Spiral Sliced Hams
Weight Range: 3 – 20 lbs
Pick-up locations: On-farm; Drop off in Chicago can be arranged (weekly deliveries are regularly made to Chicago).
Pick-up dates: Every Saturday 7am-1pm, from Nov. 2 through Dec. 21.
On-farm pick-up: Yes
Location of farm: 11197N 2300E Rd., Fairbury, IL
Phone: 815-692-4215
Farmer comments: All our pork products come from animals raised on our own farm, and are hormone-free. We are Humane Slaughter Certified. We also have fresh ham roasts and crown roasts which are perfect for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. For the holidays we also make a gift box ideal for holiday giving.

Wettstein Organic Farm, Emily & Dennis Wettstein

Breeds Available: Broad-breasted White
Other meats available: Pork, beef, 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
Pick up on Saturdays- noon – 3pm
Phone: 309-376-7291
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

Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm

Meats available: A variety of packages of beef, pork, chicken and eggs.
Pick-up locations/dates: Delivery schedule

On-farm pickup: Yes
Location of farm: 1985 N 3690th Rd Ottawa, IL
Farmer comments: 
Our smaller packages are great for special occasions or gift giving.

Slow Chicagoan Profile : Cheryl Munoz of The Sugar Beet Co-op

There is a noticeable shift occurring - in which it is commonplace for consumers to not only want to know where their food comes from, but where they are also voting quite literally with their dollars by supporting producers and purveyors who embody the processes they feel their food should to travel through before getting to their tables (hint : go slow!). The growing abundance of community owned grocers in and around Chicago alone is a testament to this shift (hello, Chicago Market and the soon to be expanding Dill Pickle - to mention a few). Now you can add another name to the list - The Sugar Beet Co-op in Oak Park, IL - a suburb just outside of Chicago. We had the opportunity to speak with Cheryl Munoz, the Marketing + Outreach lead of this new oasis for local goods shoppers. 

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

Spreading the word about Sugar Beet Food Co-op! I spend most days working on the many marketing tactics for our store. Our community is still learning about us as we have only been open for 2 months and we are still growing, too. I research local producers and farmers to highlight in our newsletters and develop and advertise programs like cooking classes, wellness events and collaborative cross promotions in our community. Rallying our community to build a co-op took over three years. Rallying our community to support our co-op is an ongoing effort!

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

I love talking to people about food! From meeting with our local vendors and farmers and learning about their lives and all of the passion and hard work that goes into growing and making good food to our customers who so excited about the delicious foods that they are finding at The Co-op. Our store is a busy hive of people discussing, sharing, and celebrating good food. The hardest part is not eating all day long and finding a quiet space to get my work done.

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

Lack of education and awareness. Many people do not realize the many benefits that a strong local food system would bring to our region. Jobs, more green space, fresher and healthier food, connection with the land, investments in technology, food security, agritourism, and tasty, local food! Alongside Sugar Beet Food Co-op we created Sugar Beet Schoolhouse which is a non profit that serves our community with food literacy programming. We have developed and facilitated camps and after school programs for youth of all ages, farm tours, Chicago food and sustainability tours and we are growing food on park district land with volunteers. Fun, practical programming that inspires people to rethink their relationship with food is central to changing our consumption patterns.

What do you think should be up next for trendiest food item - kale’s successor?

I was asked this when I spoke on a panel at Good Food Fest called “The Future of Food”. I would like to shout from the roof tops BEANS! Beans of all kinds are grown here in the Midwest and are an amazing source of protein, fiber and other goodies. I want to see beans on every table across Chicagoland. They are cheap, they store well and they are so easy to cook. My family eats Breslin beans almost every day. Do we fart sometimes? Yes. It’s ok, though because laughter is good for the soul.

What wins - avocado toast vs. artichoke toast?

I am less about the toppings and more about the toast. Is it bread from HEWN or Pleasant House Bakery? I cannot choose between those two... they are both so good.

What is your second favorite Chicago food related social media account to follow (because Slow Food Chicago is your favorite of course)? 

I am new to my job as Marketing & Outreach Lead at Sugar Beet Food Co-op so I am always looking up to our “Big Sister” co-op, Dill Pickle, for social media ideas. Their casual product photos and fun social media posts highlight the best of this movement - good food and good people.

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

Food is a very personal matter and Sugar Beet Food Co-op and Schoolhouse have earned the trust of our community by offering practical and positive solutions and information about food - from growing it to buying it - without being negative. People are drawn to the celebration that we have started and continue to come back because we are making Good Food accessible, delicious and fun. Slow Food also embodies a positive approach, as well, through their beautiful publications and fun events.

Why Chicago? If not Chicago, where?

Chicagoland is alive with curiosity, hope and people who are working towards systemic change. Chicago is also bristling with tension due to financial instability and wealth disparities with no relief in sight. Localizing our food system through sustainable urban agriculture provides so many solutions from creating local jobs to revitalizing neighborhoods and communities by activating green spaces and neighborhood centers with green industry. Empty lots and buildings can be turned into urban and vertical farms. Corner stores could be filled with fresh produce alleviating health disparities and boosting small independent businesses. Unemployed people could be learning new skills that will support the birth of a new city plan that is more sustainable - both financially and environmentally. The vision is clear for many of us and we are building a movement that will gain the attention of many bite at a time.

The Sugar Beet Food Co-op is located in Oak Park, IL.

The Sugar Beet Food Co-op is located in Oak Park, IL.

Hungry for more? Watch this video for a peek inside the store (if you haven't been there already) - or, follow the links below to stay on top of updates at the co-op (a.k.a. your new favorite "slow" grocer in the suburbs).

Website / Facebook / Instagram 

Slow Chicagoan Profile : Breanne Heath of The Pie Patch

Breanne Heath is the passionate one-woman show behind The Pie Patch, a slice of urban agriculture devoted to growing fruit and veg suitable for - you guessed it, pies. (Um, hello. I like pie. You like pie. Ok - we're all into it. Let's proceed.) Located in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, Breanne's pick-your-own farm was recently awarded organic certification. We got to chat with Breanne about this tremendous accomplishment, about her background as a garden and education manager, and a bit about how her farm works in tandem with the Slow Food mission. 

Your farm is now USDA certified organic. (Congrats!!) For those who may be less familiar - what does that mean and what is MOSA?

MOSA (Midwest Organic Services Association) is a certified third party entity that did my inspection (it also performs the inspections for other certified organic farms in the region). All farms, businesses, and product that are USDA certified are done so by a third party (the USDA does not directly do inspections or the paperwork, but rather oversees the process and sets the standards).

Why did you decide to have your farm and your process be certified organic?

When I first opened the farm, I got a lot of questions from customers regarding my production methods. This is great because it's now common for people to question where their food comes from and how it was produced before deciding to consume it. However, responding to so many emails and phone calls was taking a lot of time. I'm hoping with the organic certification, I'll be able to spend more time farming and less time at my computer answering emails, since many people understand what certified organic means.

Going through the organic certification process has helped me think about much more than just growing without chemicals. The production and input records are not only essential for documenting information required by the agency, but are also a good guide for evaluating my production and how I can grow better. It has also given me much more respect for certified organic farmers. Unless I'm buying from a farm operator I know personally, I now buy things I can't get from them from certified organic farmers, because I know what they've gone through - the thoughtful process and documentation of certification. 

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

I work full-time at Peterson Garden Project as the Garden and Education Manager, so that's usually where I am on a typical work day. I designed The Pie Patch to be a fairly self-sufficient farm: most of the crops are perennials or long-growing annuals, there's timers on the drip irrigation to keep everything watered, and being u-pick I'm not spending time harvesting, transporting, or selling at markets. I'm usually only there one weekday evening and one weekend day a week.

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

Best: I've worked on this land since for five growing seasons, and know it really well. I feel more connected to what I'm doing knowing :

- when and where to look for swallowtail butterfly caterpillars

- where the bindweed tends to pop up and when

- where to find the hidden treasures of perennials and self-seeding annuals planted by gardeners long ago. 

Hardest: Doing this alone. I didn't look for a business partner because I wasn't sure if I would succeed or exactly when I would have time to do everything and I didn't want to let anyone else down. But it also means that I'm weeding for hours at a time by myself.

What do you think should be up next for trendiest food item - kale’s successor?

Beans and Peas! Seriously, there are so many different varieties out there and we only ever see a fraction of them at the store, and even fewer at the farmers' market. I'd love to see fresh beans like favas, crowder peas, butter beans and lady peas taking over!

What wins - avocado toast vs. artichoke toast?

Pretty sure I need to have both side by side asap to have a better perspective on this.

What is your second favorite Chicago food related social media account to follow (aside from Slow Food Chicago of course)?

Three Plaid Farmers on Facebook. I've seen their farm grow and their incredible harvests improve in quality each year. Or @pyritesun on Instagram.

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

Good - strawberries are grown in healthy, fertile SOIL. They have a particular terroir that is unmistakeable. I'm growing the same varieties in my rooftop garden, which has a different growing medium, and they aren't nearly as incredible.

Clean - even though certified organic means I can use some approved pesticides and fungicides, I haven't sprayed anything, and instead focus on keeping the soil as healthy as possible instead. The resulting healthy plants and giant earthworms speak to that!

Fair - pick-your-own helps me keep prices low - I don't have to factor in costs for marketing, harvesting, packaging or transporting. It also means that all of the food I grew in Back of the Yards gets sold in Back of the Yards.

The Pie Patch is a pick-your-own farm located at 5045 S Laflin in the Back of the Yards of Chicago that grows produce traditionally used in baking pies.

The Pie Patch is a pick-your-own farm located at 5045 S Laflin in the Back of the Yards of Chicago that grows produce traditionally used in baking pies.

Hungry for more? Keep up with Breanne and what's growing this season at The Pie Patch via the links below. 


October preSERVE Garden Day

Fall is upon us, folks. I don't know about you - but for me, fall is all about fresh starts. What better way to live up to that mantra than volunteering with Slow Food Chicago's preSERVE garden? Already a regular volunteer? You know we'll welcome you back with open arms. Never been? I'm going to answer that question with a question. If not now, when? Do it to it. This will be the last opportunity to help with the harvest in 2015. Don't miss out on this final chance. Get your hands dirty. Meet some friends (old and/or new). And break bread with your fellow volunteers after the hard work is done. We'll grill out afterwards so feel free to bring something to nosh and share after the harvest! Hope to see you Saturday...!!

Join us October 10th for a preSERVE garden volunteer day.

Join us October 10th for a preSERVE garden volunteer day.

What : PreSERVE Garden Volunteer Day

When : Saturday, October 10th, 2015 ; 10:00am - 12:00pm

Location : 1231 S Central Park Ave / 12th Place and Central Park Ave, North Lawndale (map)

Contact :  Email with questions and to RSVP.

More :

Slow Food at Chicago Gourmet

As if the excitement of being at Farm Aid last weekend wasn't enough, this weekend, Slow Food Chicago will ring in the start of fall at one of the most anticipated foodie events of the year - Chicago Gourmet. Slow Food Chicago will be participating in a demo called Slow Food : Ark of Taste Mystery Basket. Join us on Saturday at 3:30 along with Bruce Sherman (North Pond) and Jared Van Camp (Element Collective) for a discussion moderated by Chris Koetke (Kendall College). Got other things "on your plate" at that time? No worries. Slow Food will also have a table on both Saturday and Sunday in the A-D tents. Learn more about Ark of Taste products as we feature two former Terra Madre delegates - Pear Tree Preserves (Sat) and Scrumptious Pantry (Sun). Hope to see some of your "slow" foodie faces there.

Chicago Gourmet 2015 will be held on Saturday 9/26, and Sunday 9/27 in Millennium Park.

Chicago Gourmet 2015 will be held on Saturday 9/26, and Sunday 9/27 in Millennium Park.

When : Saturday 9/26, 12pm [*SFC Demo at 3:30pm] through Sunday 9/27, 5pm

Location : Millennium Park 201 E Randolph St Chicago, IL 60601 (map)

Cost : Ticket info available here.

Details : Chicago Gourmet is a celebration of food and wine presented by Bon Appetit. See site for details on ticket info.

More Info : See a full list of participating exhibitors here.

End of Summer Pickling and Canning Class

I can't think of a better way to celebrate the end of summer harvest as we prepare for fall than with a pickling and canning class. Join Slow Food Chicago Board Member and Market Manager of the 61st Street Farmers Market, Kim Werst as she leads this hands-on workshop. Attendees will learn the basics of home canning while preparing a recipe using seasonal locally grown produce. Some of the topics to be covered include low-acid vs. fruit preserves, pickling vs. freezing, food safety tips, along with proper storage and shelf life. And of course, recipes will be provided so you can go all DIY at home. You're gonna want to get on this - tickets include equipment use and produce fresh from the preSERVE Garden in N. Lawndale. Plus, you won't go home empty handed - each participant will leave with at least two jars of goodies - not to mention leaving with mad preservation skills. Don't hesitate - tickets historically go pretty fast!

Join us at Kendall College Chicago for a Pickling and Canning Class on Sun, Sept 27th.

Join us at Kendall College Chicago for a Pickling and Canning Class on Sun, Sept 27th.

When : Sunday, September 27th, 2015; 10:00am-1:30pm

Where : Kendall College 900 N. Branch Street Chicago, IL 60642 (map)

Cost : $60.00 (Slow Food Members will receive a discounted rate - check the latest newsletter for a promotion code to enter at check out - or email for more info.)

More Info : See site for more details.

Slow Chicagoans : Slow Fashion Edition

Jamie Hayes and Gerry Quinton are two Chicago gals you're going to want to get to know. Not only are they Chicagoans - who more than approve of the avocado toast trend (more on that later) - but they also just happen to be changing how we think about fashion. And they sure got this Chicagoan doing some heavy thinking after having a chance to talk shop with them. Together, they own Department of Curiosities in Logan Square - a collaborative space housing Jamie's company Production Mode and Gerry's Morua. Ethical leather and corsets, oh my! I know. Are you as excited as I am? Okay. Good. Without further ado - let's get to the good stuff.

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

Wearing so many hats! We produce our lines ourselves, in-house, so a typical day would include cutting for production, sewing or working with our stitcher to have work sewn, inspecting work, not to mention researching, sketching and pattern making for lines in development, fitting work on clients and fit models, and marketing, selling, and shipping work. And of course super glamorous work like taking out the trash and trips to the hardware store round out our days.

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

The best part is autonomy - we can create whatever interests us. We can schedule our days in the ways that work best for us. We can surround ourselves with a community of creative people and clients that inspire us.

The hardest part is staying organized and focused. When everything and anything is possible, it's so important to create and maintain parameters for working. It's hard to switch hats so many times during the day and for us, this year will be about how best to organize and use our limited time and resources, and figuring out when and how to delegate/collaborate with other people so as to continue to create and produce at a high and satisfying level.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle for Chicago's fashion systems (particularly in regards to "slow" / sustainable fashion) to overcome? How does this relate to any obstacles you are aware of in our food system?

NAFTA and subsequent trade agreements have meant that in the past 25 years we've gone from having over 50% of our clothing manufactured in the US to merely 2%. So our infrastructure, from weaving mills to fabric sales reps to patternmakers to contractors, has been decimated. Add to that the rise of fast fashion in our industry, and domestic designers really have trouble competing - especially since many customers now are really only familiar with fast fashion and may not understand the differences in quality - not to mention the deleterious effects of fast fashion on the health of workers, our economy, and the planet. The appreciation of quality fabrics, cut, and construction is also diminished by fast fashions emphasis on disposable clothing and ever-evolving trends. Plus it's rare for people to learn how to sew these days and thus our connection to how clothing is made has been diminished.

Many similar same obstacles exist in the food industry, and many have been addressed by the slow food movement - so we're very inspired! For example, as consumers of food, over the past several generations, we've been increasingly disconnected from the sources of our food supply - because much of our food is coming from far away places, because it's often being grown by vast agribusiness, and because much of it is processed into something that barely resembles food.

The effects of these issues are similar in both the food and garment industry - small farmers struggle to stay on their land, whether growing food or natural fibers for processing into cloth or livestock for wool or leather are grown on farms, and struggle to compete when using "slower" practices like organic and free-range farming. In the fashion industry, we also have the issue of vulnerable workers (often young girls sent from the rural villages where farmers are struggling to keep their land) migrating to mega-cities to work in the garment industry for 80+ hours/week for very little pay, often sending the majority of their pay back home to try to keep families on their land or to fund the education of children in the family. Because production happens somewhere so far away, because we no longer understand the vast amount of human labor that goes into making clothing, and because the price of clothing is so cheap now, it's easy to forget to value clothing at all - it's become a disposable commodity.

In doing so, we lose so much. Not only do farmers and garment workers suffer from low pay, but also the planet suffers because so much of the industry is unregulated and dyes, pesticides, and chemicals resulting from garment manufacturing are being dumped into our soil and waterways. Not to mention the vast amounts of textiles that end up in landfills each year. But also notable is that we've lost our connection to our clothing. Clothing - like food - can be a source of joy, culture, and self-expression. We have to get dressed everyday so we might as well make what we wear reflect our values and personality and choose something meaningful and healthful, to workers, the planet, and to ourselves.

A Production Mode black leather bag.

A Production Mode black leather bag.

What wins for fashionista brunch - avocado toast or artichoke toast?

Avocado toast! Gerry was born and raised in Costa Rica with native avocados and then lived many years in England where the avocados are very sad and subpar. Jamie has always lived in the not-tropical Midwest and would consider a localvore diet if avocados and mangos were allowed exceptions!

What is your favorite Chicago Fashion related social media account to follow? Are there any Chicago food related account you follow that stand out (aside from SFC, duh)?

Chicago Fair Trade! The Fair Trade movement is another place where slow food, fashion and appreciation of craft and artisanal production meet.

A stunning and romantic corset piece by Morua.

A stunning and romantic corset piece by Morua.

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

Jamie's line Production Mode uses vegetable tanned leather produced by local, unionized tannery Horween. The tannery provides living wage jobs, in Chicago, and so do we! Also, vegetable tanning is a slow, traditional process that uses only vegetable matter to tan the hides. This process is in contrast to the chrome tanning used in 90% of leather production in the fashion industry. Chrome tanning uses chromium - a heavy metal that can become carcinogenic if not properly disposed. Plus, vegetable tanning produces a beautifully variegated hide that develops a beautiful patina as it ages, and thus lasts much longer than chrome tanned hides.

Gerry's line Morua is focused on creating perfectly fitted heirlooms. They are the antithesis of fast fashion. Corsets and gowns are hand-crafted from start to finish for each individual. Measurements are carefully taken and several fittings are needed for a bespoke piece. Each pattern is drafted to the client's measurements, hand-cut from specialty and luxury fabrics, and stitched one by one in our workshop. The metal bones for corsetry are hand cut to size and tipped on our very own workbench. Finally, the binding is hand stitched invisibly and embellishments are applied by hand. Many of our favorite embellishments are antique laces, buttons, rhinestones and trims. These are not only one of a kind but were made in a time when more care and artistry were put into these objects. The amount of work that goes into an elaborate piece is more than in a hundred fast fashion dresses. The result is a cherished, well-fitting piece that will stand the test of time.

Jointly, under the Department of Curiosities brand, we are designing a line of 1930's and 40's - inspired silk lingerie. It will be handmade in our Chicago studio, beautiful, and built to last. We're currently in talks with mills in Italy and fair trade producers of hand-woven goods in India to find the prefect, high-quality, ethically-made fabric.

Most important to both of us is the concept of transparency. This concept of provenance of materials and labor is unfortunately still very rare in the fashion industry, mostly because brands are cutting corners everywhere they can and don't want to be held responsible for tragedies like the Rana Plaza Factory collapse of 2013 in Bangladesh in which over 1,000 workers were killed in a totally preventable - and foreseen - building collapse.

A close up detail of one of Production Mode's vegetable-tanned leather pieces.

A close up detail of one of Production Mode's vegetable-tanned leather pieces.

What local sources do you employ to create your pieces? Why is it important to you to source local (in fashion, in food, or both!)?

We love to support local sources! It's a challenge to do so, however, because Chicago's fashion industry has dwindled so much in the past generation. Still, we're beginning to see things turn around in the US as more and more small brands and manufacturers enter the US market and more and more consumers begin to ask questions about where and how things are made.

As mentioned above, Production Mode sources leather from Horween tannery, located just a mile or so from our shop at Armitage and Elston. The natural color leather used in the line has been embellished with a screen print executed by Chicago artist Nora Renick-Rhinehart

Morua faces more challenges in sourcing locally. Corsetry relies on metal components from the medical industry of which the best come from Germany. Likewise, specialty heritage textiles specially made that have been in continuous production in Europe for over a century are not available in the US. Morua does source and re-purpose vintage and antique components for decorating and embellishment and supports as many small local distributors and manufacturers as possible.

Both of us cut and sew in-house so we keep it very local in that regard!

Likewise, our shop is located in Logan Square and we both live in the neighborhood and love our Sunday farmer's market.

All that said, we still love our non-local avocados and silks from abroad.

How do you see your corsets in particular (a fashion staple from the past) as a piece vital for the fashion movement of the present?

Corsets are fascinating for many reasons, including their loaded history, and the myths and assumptions that surround them. I don't see them as items of fashion, but as wearable objet d'art : little luxuries with the power to transform. For a wedding they are lovely and create the ultimate romantic silhouette; as undergarments they are supportive and empowering and for some even healing; and for special occasions and performance they are delectable showpieces.

A hand-crafted corset by Morua.

A hand-crafted corset by Morua.

Why Chicago? And if not Chicago, where?

Chicago rents are so cheap that we can afford (barely!) our beautiful production space/showroom. We couldn't afford a similar space in say, New York. Also we are very inspired by our membership in the Leagues of Women Designers (LWD) - in fact we'll be hosting a show of member work at our space this December. As noted recently in Forbes magazine, Chicago has the highest percentage of female entrepreneurs in the world. We definitely feel that love and support here in Chicago!

Gerry lived in London for many years before moving back to Chicago and still travels there to work regularly. As a source of inspiration the layers of history, multicultural collage and creative street fashion, London is phenomenal. A part of Morua is always in London.

If not Chicago, Jamie could see herself potentially in Mexico City, where she worked for several months with a labor rights organization. Mexico City got a hold on her heart - the delicious food, community of artists and artisans, and its rich textile traditions.

Want to learn more about these fascinating fashion ladies? Check out the links below.

Department of Curiosities / Facebook

Production Mode / Facebook / Instagram / Blog / Horween 

Morua / Facebook / Instagram

Slow Food at Farm Aid

Yes, you read that right. Slow Food is going to be... AT. FARM. AID. Boom. Are you as excited as we are? Before the party starts, we'll be hanging at the HOMEGROWN Village with a myriad of other game changing food and farm groups. Stop by and talk "slow" with us! And then go rock yer socks off.

It's the big 3-oh. Farm Aid's 30th Anniversary is this weekend - Saturday, September 19th in Chicago. 

It's the big 3-oh. Farm Aid's 30th Anniversary is this weekend - Saturday, September 19th in Chicago. 


Time : Noon - 5:00pm

Location : On the lawn at Farm Aid (First Merit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island / S Linn White Dr, Chicago, IL 60605) - [map]

Cost : Free for concert goers.

Details : On concert day, the HOMEGROWN Village welcomes fellow concertgoers to learn more about good food and family farmers through hands-on activities. Come check it out and visit us in the FarmYard to meet other farmers and Farm Aid friend from around the country.

More Info : About the Concert / About HOMEGROWN Village


Pie Patch Crop Mob

If you, like me, saw the phrase "Pie Patch" and immediately fell in love - first of all, call me. Secondly, do we have a volunteer opportunity that was made for you. The Pie Patch is a pick-your-own farm in the Back-of-the-Yards that grows perennial fruits and annual veg (think strawberries, apples, pears, plums, raspberries, rhubarb, sweet squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, concord grapes). What do these items have in common...? They are traditionally baked in PIES! Flakey crust + goods from the earth = YUM. Breanne Heath founded this little slice of heaven (pun intended) - a long-time friend of Slow Food Chicago and a 2014 Terra Madre delegate to boot. You just fell in love a little more - didn't you? Then what are you waiting for - sign up for this urban Crop Mob coming up this Sunday (9/20).

Hi, I like to be baked into pie.

Hi, I like to be baked into pie.


When : Sunday, September 20, 2015 / 1:00pm-4:00pm

Where : The Pie Patch (at Su Casa Catholic Worker) 5045 S. Laflin Chicago, IL 60609 (map)

Details : If you're interested in volunteering, please email -


And just like that, it's September. Not only that, but it's also already hump day. It's pretty great when it works out that way, isn't it? Celebrate the short week by getting your "volunteer" on at the September edition of preSERVE Garden Day this Saturday, September 12th. See you this weekend!!

Spread the love - volunteer at the September preSERVE garden day this Saturday (9/12).

Spread the love - volunteer at the September preSERVE garden day this Saturday (9/12).

Event: preSERVE Garden Volunteer Day - September                                                  

Date: Saturday, September 12th, 10am-noon                                                                

Location: 1231 S Central Park Ave / 12th Place and Central Park Ave, North Lawndale (map)


Details: Join us in the preSERVE garden - meet new neighbors, and share some food! Bring work gloves if you have them, and be prepared to stick around and enjoy some grub together afterwards! 

More about this project:

What Goes Into A Meal?

If you caught our special edition newsletter that went out today - you already know that we're crushin' hard on the folk's at Uncommon Ground. As we approach our 5th annual Vegetarian Harvest Feast with Uncommon Ground, we thought it would be interesting to interview their Farm Director, Allison Glovak, their Chef, Evan Rondeau, and their Master Brewer, Martin Coad about everything that goes into planning and constructing the dinner. Slow Food Chicago board member Carrie Schloss got the scoop from the UC crew - their discussion is below. We hope that you enjoy the interview and also hope you’ll be joining us for a really special evening next Wednesday (8/26). You can purchase tickets here. (Wink wink.) 

A collage of images from Uncommon Ground Devon's rooftop farm.

A collage of images from Uncommon Ground Devon's rooftop farm.

Slow Food Chicago: Can you discuss how the dinner evolved?

Co-owner, Helen Cameron: Many years ago, when I first became aware of the Slow Food Movement, I was immediately engaged as this simple idea of good, clean and fair food meshed perfectly with the way I grew up—and the way my husband and I operate our restaurants.  Once we opened Uncommon Ground on Devon and we decided to build a certified organic farm on our roof, we took the ideals of Slow Food to another level—one story up-- to produce a good measure of veggies, greens, herbs, fruit, hops & honey for use in our restaurants.  We have hosted this Slow Food event for many years now-it is the highlight of our summer- and I am extremely proud of the fact that the grand majority of ingredients in the menu that our guests share come from something we have started from seed and nurtured to maturity, with great care and effort to produce something extraordinary.  With the addition of Greenstar Brewing, the first certified organic brewery in the State of Illinois in 2014, we brought organic beer to the table as well.  We brew our beer with local grain, hops and yeast, and occasionally with ingredients from our own farm.  I don’t think you can get much Slower than that! 

Slow Food Chicago:  Could you give a little synopsis of how you plan the garden and decide what you are going to plant and how much of it?  Is it just the farmer who decides what to plant or does the chef also have input?

Farm Director Allison Glovak: Many factors go into the planning of our farm. We keep very detailed records of all our crops year to year. Through analyzing this data we can determine which crops produce the best for us in our unique growing environment, and plant them again the following year. We focus on items that have high yields, quick turnover, high value for our kitchen, and crops that cannot be sourced through our distributors. We also focus on biodiversity as part of our organic farm plan and this year we are growing 56 crops using 120 different varieties of produce!  A few among them are Slow Food Ark of Taste selections.   Beyond that, we also sit down with our chefs in early February and delve into our seed catalogs. The chefs get a lot of say into what we'll be growing, and often ask for specific crops or varieties. One of the wonderful things about having our own farm is the diverse produce we can grow ourselves that our chefs wouldn't be able to get anywhere else. 

Chef Evan Rondeau:  It all starts with the farm. Our plan starts early in the New Year. All of us gather, seed catalogs in hand, giddy with possibilities. Keeping in mind the farm’s space, crop yield and building from knowledge of the years before us, we collaboratively make a plan for the coming season. There are certain no-brainer crops, herbs, tomatoes, radishes, peppers, as well as some experimentation. As the chef, I might hope to see if, say, Piquillo peppers are worth growing. I concede to our Farm Director’s best judgement. If we have space and it seems like a good crop we will go for it. The Tokyo Turnip is probably a great example of this. Our farmer Jen was unfamiliar with them last year and the baby turnips took to our space perfectly, becoming one of our better producers.  It became a new favorite early crop for us.

Slow Food Chicago: Could you discuss how you decide what to highlight for the Harvest Feast? 

Farm Director Allison Glovak: We decide which items we will highlight for the harvest feast through collaboration with the farmer, chef, and the farm itself. The date of the feast has a lot to do with which crops will be at peak production and flavor. But, we actually put a lot of work into planning for this harvest feast before we even put the first seed into the ground. The produce for the dinner is integrated right into the farm plan from the get-go, but the actual dishes are the chef's creation!

Chef Evan Rondeau: I think the key to this question is season. As I said, certain ingredients are no brainers. Shishito Peppers, for example, are so simple to prepare, so delicious and abundant at the end of August, they have been on the harvest menu every year. Tomatoes are our main crop, and the reason that our Harvest Dinner is in late August is they are at the peak of their flavor and harvest so we can purposefully highlight how special they are in the menu. Other things are of the moment as we are developing a menu, adjusting to the reality of the harvest. The Ground Cherries went crazy this year, whereas say the long beans weren't producing much. So we keep that in mind when we develop the harvest menu.  We really try to use as many of our homegrown ingredients as we possibly can in the menu.

 Slow Food Chicago: Could you discuss how you construct the dishes - how to prepare the main ingredient, flavor profiles, etc?  Do you consciously try to highlight a number of different cooking techniques?  Or is it only about highlighting the main ingredient?

Chef Evan Rondeau:  Going into my third slow food dinner I have learned a few things in regards to developing the menu. How do we plan for a large plated meal? How can we highlight a variety of flavors? In any menu plan a mix of textures, temperatures, and tastes is the key. When we plan for over 100 guests, efficient execution of dishes becomes a factor in our choices. The cooking techniques aren't quite as important as creating a delicious finished product. All in all, we want to show respect for the ingredients and highlight the bounty of yet another beautiful growing season.

Slow Food Chicago:  Can you discuss how and when the brewer is brought into the process in terms of pairings?  Can you also discuss how the brewer utilizes the rooftop garden ingredients for the dinner?

Master Brewer, Martin Coad:  We see our organic beer as a culinary item, just as much as anything else on the menu.  When thinking about the menu for our very special Slow Food Harvest Dinner, each item is paired with the beer by considering the beer as an ingredient in the overall flavor profile.  Each beer pairing is in collaboration with Chef Evan Rondeau and me, through discussions of the particular subtle flavor profiles of our beer and ensuring they fit well with every aspect of our well-crafted food.  

When we decided to open an organic brewery, the knowledge that beer is a mostly agricultural product gave us an obvious desire to include ingredients from our own certified organic farm.  Not to mention the necessity of using organic ingredients in organic beer!  Making farm collaborative beers is something that we will always do and will be a fluid development only limited by our combined creativity.   We've designed several farm-based recipes, utilizing our own organic Cascade Hops as well as Green Coriander Seed that are seasonally used in our flagship beers.  Included in this year's Slow Food menu, we are happy to provide one of our most popular beers since our opening, our Black Currant Kölsch.  This delicious beer uses a German Kölsch as its base, which starts by providing a subtle sweetness and creaminess from the malt, and the naturally clean refreshing finish that you would expect from this German style of beer.  To this we added fresh organic black currants, grown at our Devon restaurant, to provide a wonderful combination of sweet and tart strawberry, vanilla, and currant flavors.  Pröst!

The Slow Food Chicago 5th Annual Vegetarian Harvest Dinner at Uncommon Ground will be held on Wednesday, August 26th. There will be a cocktail reception on the rooftop from 530-7pm after which guests will descend into the dining room for a 4 course vegetarian meal featuring seasonal rooftop produce paired with Greenstar Brewing beer and specialty drinks. Join us!


Vegetarian Harvest Dinner at Uncommon Ground

It's almost upon us. The Vegetarian Harvest Dinner at Uncommon Ground. If you haven't dined at Uncommon Ground's Devon Ave location - equipped with an impressive rooftop farm, you are in for a treat. Not only do you get to get up close and personal with some of the ingredients that will be going onto your plate, but the meal - all four courses of it - will be paired ever so thoughtfully with just the right spirits for you to wash it all down with. This is going to be FUN.

Uncommon Ground Hosts Slow Food Chicago's Vegetarian Harvest Dinner on August 26th.

Uncommon Ground Hosts Slow Food Chicago's Vegetarian Harvest Dinner on August 26th.

Event: Vegetarian Harvest Dinner
Date: Wednesday, August 26th, 6-9pm
Location: Uncommon Ground @ 1401 W Devon Av, Chicago, IL 60660 (map)
Details: Slow Food's annual Vegetarian Harvest dinner returns to Uncommon Ground. Enjoy apps and drinks on the rooftop farm and then descend into the dining room for a 4-course vegetarian meal with Greenstar Brewery beer pairings
More about this project: Tickets available here.

Crop Mob

Join Slow Food Chicago to lend a hand at Antiquity Oaks farm in Cornell, IL. Volunteers will be helping clean up and organizing the farm for some of their upcoming fall events. In exchange for your time and hard work as a "crop mobber", you will be provided with a homegrown lunch and drinks. Antiquity Oaks is as diversified farm with free-range livestock and a CSA Garden. They also raise pastured lamb, pork, beef, and poultry. Sounds like a pretty dreamy place to spend your Saturday. See additional details below. Adults only and no pets please.

Event: Crop Mob at Antiquity Oaks Farm
Date: Saturday, August 15th, 2015, 9:30am-3:30pm 
Location: Antiquity Oaks - Cornell, IL (map) 
Details: Slow Food Chicago  
More about this outing: Email Rob [] to register. This event is completely free!!

"Slow" Chicagoan Profile / Alison Parker and Alex Needham of Radical Root Organic Farm

What's the start of a good meal? We'd argue, that it all starts with the quality of ingredients that make up the meal on your plate. Lucky for us, we have some skillful farmers and growers who not only share that sentiment, but also call our city home. Take for example, Alison and Alex of Radical Root Organic Farm. Slow Food had a little chat with these good folks. Here's what they had to say about food, family and running a farm. They're all (not surprisingly) very connected.

What would you be doing right now on a typical work day?                                                                                                                                   

Everything from field work to online work. Alex and the crew (and sometimes me and the kids) do a ton of everything. Everyone does lots of wedding, harvesting, managing, collecting eggs, pasturing the chickens, and then accounting, emails... then Alex and I do lots of tag-teaming with the kids : playing and feeding the kids and family, read to kids, put kids to bed, put up the chickens, make sure everything is closed up, and more computer work after that usually! On farm days, we are out there later doing farmstand, and on CSA days, we are out doing CSA pick up at the barn.

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

Best part is the food. Eating, cooking, and growing it for other people to make people healthier.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle for Chicago's food system to overcome?              

Eliminating industrial agriculture, and educating people on why it's so bad. Connecting that the cheap food they are getting in stores and restaurants are from factory farms and industrial farming. I think people know that, but maybe don't really think too much about it. Even us sometimes.

What's next for the trendiest food item (all hail kale's successor)?  

Kale will hopefully reign supreme! Long live KALE!                                      

What is your second favorite Chicago food related social media account to follow (aside from Slow Food Chicago of course)?           

Dill Pickle Food Co-Op

What wins - avocado toast or artichoke toast?                                                                       

Artichokes grow here, so I'd say that.

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

We strive for nutrition and flavor, growing heirlooms, growing organically with trace minerals.

Why Chicago? If not Chicago, where?                                                                                   

Chicago is where my (Alison's) parents and sister live. Alex and I both have lots of friends here. If not Chicago, I'd love to move to a small hippie town... a Eugene, OR or a Burlington, VT.

Radical Root Organic Farm is located in Libertyville, IL.

Radical Root Organic Farm is located in Libertyville, IL.

Hungry for more? Find out more about Alison, Alex and their farm and family at the links below. We don't know about you, but we're dying to sign up for their CSA (amirite)?!!

Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter



Farm Roast

Did you hear? If you read the SFC newsletter yesterday, you already know. A limited number of early bird tickets [for only $50] as well as a handful of VIP tickets are officially on sale for Slow Food's annual Farm Roast. This year's event will be held at the newly opened Local Foods. If getting to hang in this drool-worthy foodie space isn't incentive enough - the company sure should. Noshing to be provided by the likes of some of our city's best and brightest - including White Oak Gourmet, Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits, The Bristol, Vie, Nico Osteria, Maddy's Dumpling House and more. Wash it all down with brews from Moody Tongue, Begyle, Pipeworks, and Billy Sunday. I mean - you are so there, right? Welp, get on it! And get your mix and mingle on.

This year's annual SFC Farm Roast will be held at Local Foods on September 13th.

This year's annual SFC Farm Roast will be held at Local Foods on September 13th.

Event: Slow Food Chicago Annual Farm Roast
Date: Sunday, September 13th, 2-5pm 
LocationLocal Foods Grocer + Distributor @ 1427 W Willow St, Chicago, IL 60642 (map)
Details: SFC's annual Farm Roast brings together the region's best chefs, farmers, brewers, and bartenders for an afternoon of incredible food, drink, and education. It's perhaps the most delicious way possible to support local food culture. Get your tickets here.  
More about this project: