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A green day in the life...

So last weekend TF and I had a nice green day. We began with a visit to the Green City Market, a farmer’s market held in Lincoln Park. The weather was blissful and we had great travel karma, even running into our friend MF who was out delivering mail. The market was smaller then I had expected, but seemed to have more organic vendors and had nice live music and many restaurant-type vendors selling what looked like tasty lunches. Our big find of the day was a woman who grows local Asian pears, one of TF’s favorite foods. The Green Market also offers a Winter Market, so I plan to visit them more often once the rest of the farmer’s markets have closed for the season.

From there, we stopped for brunch at the Chicago Diner, whose vegan biscuits and gravy curl my toes. If you’re in Chicago and looking for a vegetarian restaurant, I can’t recommend the Chicago Diner highly enough. Their food is fabulous and their desserts are decadant (vegan cocoa mousse cake and raw chocolate cheesecake to name just a couple-mmmmmmmmmmm).

Once full of great food, we grabbed the train and headed up to a food co-op near the Loyola campus called New Leaf Natural Grocery. They offer produce boxes much like a CSA, in addition to being a grocery. I was excited because their web site says that they have a selection of grass-fed, antibiotic free, free range meats that they purchase from local farmers, as well as a raw foods selection.

Upon arrival, New Leaf was a BIG disappointment, crammed into a teeny-tiny space. Their selection of local options seemed to be on par with Whole Foods (read: "not so much"), making them not worth the extra journey. I have no idea where the supposed sustainable meats were located, nor did I see much of a raw foods selection. Perhaps if I had asked I would have found more of what I was looking for but the college kids working behind the counter were far from approachable and were so occupied by flirting with one another that it seemed an imposition even to ask them to ring me up. I’m a snob about customer service (having done so much of it myself over the years) and when I don’t get good service - I don’t come back.

I did find a nice, buttery, fair trade decaf by Equal Exchange Coffee, as well as a dark chocolate bar with blueberries by Endangered Species Chocolate (not as yummy to me as the Dagoba Blueberry/Lavender bar - but once Hershey’s bought Dagoba, I quit supporting them). But again, I can get those at Whole Foods.

I was hoping to find an independent grocer who is more in line with my values, and was even willing to do some crazy commuting to support them, but New Leaf is not the place. And so the search continues!



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 13th, 2007 10:43 pm (UTC)
Yeah, we tried to use New Leaf's weekly produce/CSA thing and dumped it quickly, as very little of it was locally grown.
Sep. 14th, 2007 03:01 pm (UTC)
I am actually surprised how little attention is paid to local food at places like this. Whole foods is just a joke with their produce from Chile and Peru. I don't know the details of regional supply and demand, but I see Chicago's farmers markets with tons of great produce and I wonder why some of these grocers aren't making deals with family farms.
Sep. 13th, 2007 11:31 pm (UTC)
You should check out the Dill Pickle Food Coop (http://dillpicklefoodcoop.org) They are working on setting up a storefront in the Logan Square area. They have been working for a little over a year now and it looks like they might have something up and running in the near future.
Sep. 14th, 2007 03:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks J! I'll keep my eye on them - I'd love to support a good coop.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 14th, 2007 02:51 pm (UTC)
Hey, I'm glad you guys have had good experiences with New Leaf. I want there to be more places where we can practice food activism in Chicago. Perhaps in the future I will try them again - but not until the taste of bad service fades from my mouth.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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