42 is the answer to life, the universe, and everything (according to Douglas Adams). It was Jackie Robinson’s number. 42 is a number with significance.
That’s more true than ever as the Downtown Evanston Farmers Market begins its 42nd consecutive season on Saturday, May 6.
All of the nearly 60 farms, ranches and artisanal producers likely won’t be at the first few markets, but the property at University and Maple will fill up rapidly with purveyors of fruits, vegetables, meat, flowers, cheese, eggs and bakery items.
Nearly all of last year’s vendors are returning, and there are seven new farms and artisanal vendors to serve up exquisite wares:
Indoor market shoppers will recognize some of these names from this last season, and we all welcome their participation in the big market.
The Downtown Market accepts Illinois Link cards, so low-income shoppers can utilize SNAP benefits when they shop the market. Friends of Evanston Farmers Markets have matched SNAP dollars since 2011. You can find details about this year’s matching program by clicking here.
Keep visiting this site for information, recipes, links and reporting about issues that impact both the farmers who make our market so exceptional and the customers that depend on the market for fresh, local, healthy products every week.
The ordinance that establishes rules and regulations governing activities at the City of Evanston’s Farmers Markets has recently been reviewed and revised. Friends provided input, as we have in the past, and we are pleased to see the clarity that the revised ordinance brings to all the details that make our market a great place to shop, as well as a safe and fun place to bring the whole family.
The significant updates involve language about farmer cooperatives and explicit permission for non-Evanston producers of baked goods to participate in Evanston markets.Farmer cooperatives allow a vendor to offer products grown by other farmers at our market, as long as certain specific rules are followed. The matter of non-Evanston bakers was a subject of some controversy during the past year, and the new language clarifies who is permitted to sell baked goods at our markets.
You can check out the revised ordinance; just click here to download a pdf of the proposed revision.
There are two important dates where the revision will be on the table, and citizens of Evanston are encouraged to attend. The first is the monthly meeting of the Human Services Committee, scheduled for Monday, December 5, at 6 pm (according to the City’s website). The ordinance will be discussed, and citizen’s will be able to address concerns.
The City Council will review and (presumably) approve the revised ordinance at their meeting on Monday, December 12. There is no scheduled time for this meeting on the City’s calendar, but we believe it will begin at 6:30 pm.
Both meetings will be held at the Civic Center at 2100 Ridge Ave, Evanston, IL 60201.
It is the hope of the City and Friends of Evanston Farmers Markets that anyone who shops at our Farmers Markets will take a few minutes to review the updated ordinance and show their interest by attending the meetings that will result in its passage.
Immanuel Lutheran Church, at 616 Lake Street (Sherman and Lake) here in Evanston has been holding a Pre-Thanksgiving Indoor/Outdoor Farmers Market for many years.
In writing about it, our lede has always been centered around the fact that this market was the final hurrah for most of the vendors until the next year’s Spring. Since last year, that’s no longer the case.
The market, which will be held on Saturday, November 19 from 8 am to 1 pm, is now the first of 11 markets that will be held at the church throughout the Fall, Winter, and early Spring. Along with the weekly Ecology Center Farmers Market, that makes for a lot of options for those who want to continue eating seasonal produce and supporting local farmers and artisans.
The Pre-Thanksgiving market is a bit different than the others. It’s an indoor/outdoor affair, for one. As of this moment, the extended forecast puts the temperature at around 50 degrees for most of the morning, with moderately high winds. Rain is forecast for later in the day. Last year’s forecast was similar the week before the market, and things got a little more brutal once the day arrived. Hopefully, this year, Winter will wait until after we all get our sweet potatoes, turkeys, and all the other seasonal options.
Regardless, there will be lots to choose from. Here’s the roster of farms and artisans who will be at the market on November 19:
At the time of this writing, there are two chef demos left in the 2016 market season. Pretty much every other week, we’ve had a dozen of Evanston’s best chefs visit and wow a couple of hundred hungry visitors with their delicious fare, much of it composed of products you can get right at the market. In this article, and a follow up in November, we’d like to share the recipes that those generous chefs shared with us. Here we go!
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C)
Roasted Beets and Pesto Oil from above.
Store bought (hopefully local) 16 oz of Burrata
Liberally salt and pepper each side of steak before grilling.
Grill strip steak over high heat for five minutes each side, rotating 90 degrees to get even sear on both sides. Let rest on cutting board for five minutes after removing from grill.
Combine Peach balsamic with dijon mustard with whisk in non reactive bowl, then slowly drizzle olive oil, while whisking vigorously until dressing becomes slightly thick. Add brown sugar, and pinch of salt and pepper, whisk until combined, then toss lightly with lettuce.
Slice steak cross wise into 1/4 inch strips. Add cheese wedge and four slices of steak to salad.
Pickled mustard seeds
Blanch the beans, shock in cold water, set aside
Fine chop shiso, add remaining ingredients and mix together. Adjust seasonings and thickness to personal taste. (sweeter, thinner)
Pickled mustard seeds
Put all ingredients in a non aluminum pan, simmer for 5 minutes, take off heat and let cool. Stored in the fridge, they are good for a long time.
Assemble the dish
Plate green beans, drizzle with miso dressing. top with radishes and some micro greens, spread pickled mustard seeds around. Finished
You can add other vegetables like cherry tomato, asparagus, etc.
For a more substantial dish, add a Japanese onsen style egg .
Starting with an Washington Post op-ed piece in November of 2014, 4 writers, journalists, and scientists began to frame an argument, that began by asserting that, “…we have no food policy – no plan or agreed-upon principles – for managing American agriculture or the food system as a whole.”
The authors are Mark Bittman, Food Writer and a Fellow at Union of Concerned Scientists; Michael Pollan,journalist and food activist; Ricardo Salvador, an expert in sustainable agriculture practices, is a senior scientist and director of the UCS Food & Environment Program; and Olivier De Schutter, a Belgian legal scholar specialising in economic and social rights, served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food from 2008 to 2014. The op-ed piece, “How a national food policy could save millions of American lives,” can be read here. A key observation made early in the piece:
“…When hundreds of thousands of annual deaths are preventable – as the deaths from the chronic diseases linked to the modern American way of eating surely are – preventing those needless deaths is a national priority.”
That was back in 2014. In October of 2015, the authors expanded their argument for a National Food Policy in an article published on Medium, entitled “Why We Need a National Food Policy.” Your can read that article here. Although this writing is more than a few months old, the issues are more relevant than ever.
With fewer than fifty days until the presidential election, Friends of Evanston Farmers Markets thinks that it is important to consider anew the issues that were birthed back in the 1970s, when
under President Nixon, there were fundamental changes in agricultural policies. To produce cheap food, the industrialization of food with its accompanying subsidies became a reality leading to a dependence on fossil fuels and monoculture farming. This significant change moved us from supporting small, environmentally friendly farms. As explained by these forward thinking authors, the change has resulted in a heavy price to our health and that of the environment.
The underlying goals that Messrs. Bittmann, et al articulate are anything but controversial:
These goals may be benign and seemingly obvious, But the country is no closer to them than when they were first proposed two years ago.
Bittmann, Pollan, Salvador, and De Schutter next penned “A National Food Policy for the 21st Century,” essentially a memo to the next president.
Their thesis is that our new president has an opportunity to greatly affect the wellbeing of our environment and the health of the nation by revisiting the underpinnings of our food system. They clearly explain that even suggesting that we currently have a coordinated food system is wishful thinking. Read that capstone to their effort by clicking here.
In an election year where the only thing we’ve heard about food is that one of the candidates prefers McDonalds (and other fast food), it seems important that the public continue pushing for a coordinated policy. On their own, politicians have done little to undo the harm of our current piecemeal food policy landscape.