I was recently quoted by Crain's Chicago Busines as saying that December is the caterer's best friend and worst nightmare. Without holiday parties, my business may be sustainable in its practices, but not in its existence. Even this year with its down economy, the days of November and December are a marathon forcing a slow start to my own holiday preparations.
The house is only half decorated, we haven't yet made our visit to Santa, and I'll be lucky if the holiday cards hit the mail box before New Year's Eve. However, things are looking up. With our biggest event of the year behind me, I can now turn my attention to gift-giving. Fortunately, I've already taken care of my client gifts, who receive a recycled berry box full of house made preserves - these were made months ago. It's time to shop for the rest of our motley crew of friends, family, and neighbors. I took a little time last night and put together my gift list. Keeping in the spirit of the holidays, I thought it would be fun to give you readers a gift: our gift list chock full of products, which are, unsurprisingly, locally available.
The Literary Locavore
There has been a whole slew of new books on sustainable and local eating this year. One of my favorites is The Seasons on Henry's Farm by friend, Terra Brockman. Terra is the founder of The Land Connection, a non-profit dedicated to supporting, developing, and training local farmers. She is also the sister of the Evanston farmers' market stalwart, Henry Brockman of Henry's Farm. Terra's beautifully written book is about a year on the farm, giving us city folk the insight to the rhythm of a Midwestern farm life. The literary locavore would also appreciate a subscription to Edible Chicago, a quarterly magazine dedicated to the exploration of our local food culture.
The Lushy Locavore
Throughout the winter, many locavores like to drink and eat their potatoes. Fortunately, neither locally grown potatoes nor locally distilled vodkas are in short supply. My husband and I are a big fan of North Shore vodka especially when partnered with Tomato Mountain's tomato juice and Mike's secret blend of spices (which I am forbidden to reveal). Tomato Mountain also makes a Bloody Mary mix for those of you who prefer not to practice mixology on Sunday mornings. I think that the pairing of Tomato Mountain's mix and the North Shore vodka would be a lovely gift for the lushy locavore. Cassie Green carries both of these at Green Grocer. For another great source of local liquor, try Lush Wine and Spirits. Be sure to say hi to the Lush girls for me. We're big fans.
We all know them. The folks that refuse to buy into the eat local movement. The folks who find it downright silly. Some don't care much about food (they're the eat to live ones), but there are others who just don't get the philosophy. For the truly recalcitrant, ask Tracy Kellner of Provenance Food and Wine to pull together a gift basket of global delicacies, like Spanish chorizo, exotic honeys, delicious chocolates, and assorted olives. For the converted, she's got a great array of local delicacies on hand.
The Hostess with the Localness
The Downtown Farmstand has a ton of a baskets awaiting your selections that they will then fill with and package decoratively. A lovely gift for your holiday host.
Your LITTLE LOCAVORE kid
All of the aforementioned food shops carry a great variety of locally produced treats that would satisfy your LITTLE LOCAVORE kid's sweet tooth. For something both healthier and longer lasting, check out the selection of cooking tools at The Kids' Table, which they can use to make the many family-friendly recipes found on this blog. If you become a member of Purple Asparagus, a non-profit dedicated to bringing families back to the table, you'll receive a 10% discount on classes and parties at The Kids' Table.
The Locavore Who Has it All
For the locavore who wants for nothing, consider a charitably minded gift such as a membership to Green City Market. Not only will you be supporting a pioneer in the eat local movement, but membership affords some experiential benefits available no where else, like advance access to Green City Market barbecue tickets, one of the city's hottest events - a sell-out two years in a row.
The Budding Locavore
For the friend or family member who really wants to eat locally, but doesn't know how, treat them to a sustainable cooking class. Not to toot my own horn (honk, honk), but I have a whole series of cooking classes appropriate for a variety of circumstances, including Sustainable Cooking 101, To Market, To Market and Sustaining Family Traditions. To sign up, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You could also purchase Dana Altman's terrific Real Food Rehab's Pantry Essentials Guide, which recommends many wonderful local products to add to your larder, helping you reintroduce real food into your diet.
The Loquatious Locavore
The chatty cathy among your friends would enjoy Across the Table, a non-profit dedicated to uniting Chicago one meal at a time. Founder Lauren Grossman seeks out restaurant and caterers who source locally to host the events at which topics, such as food justice, friendship, and race. To give a friend the gift of delicious food and dynamic conversation, visit Across the Table.org.
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