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Farmers Market Finds

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jul 10, 2007 4:00PM

2007_07_FMF1.jpgSaturday the sun and heat agreed with Chicagoist. So we saddled up on our seven-year-old Schwinn Mesa GS and beat a straight line north on Halsted to the Lincoln Park farmers market. We just had some chicken butchered for us at Chicago Live Poultry House in Little Village, and had some ideas of how we wanted to prepare the cuts.

First, we stopped at the tent manned by Froelich's Finest Fruits & Vegetables of Berrian Center, Mich. (8739 Lake Road; 269-461-4255). They had a sale on summer squash (2 for $1) and European seedless cucumbers at $1.50 each. We bought 2 squash and one cucumber and headed to the Smits Farms tent (3437 E. Sauk Trail in Chicago Heights; 708-758-3838) Smits Farms specializes in fresh herbs. We bought a load of herb planters from Smits Farms at the Federal Plaza farmers market in May, but none of them were perennials. We remedied this somewhat by purchasing a mint planter ($3). It might be too late in the season to see some results of this. But then, mint is a perennial, so we planted it deep in some moist soil in our backyard, content to wait until next year like any good Chicago baseball fan.

Done with our fresh purchases we then decided to get some comfort food. Dagny's Breakfast makes some tasty granolas and low fat muffins. We bought a large bag of "berry berry" granola ($7). Loaded with clusters of almonds, dried blueberries, and oats, it's the perfect snack to tide us between meals. It also makes a great cereal. Finally we headed to one of our favorite vendors, River Valley Kitchens of Burlington, Wisc. River Valley specializes in hand-made salsas, pasta sauces, oils, and spreads. We started to come around to the idea of making a cold chicken breast pasta salad with the butchered chicken and squash from Froelich, so we decided that a pasta sauce would be just the thing to tie it all together. After sampling River Valley's garlic lovers pasta sauce, we were sold. A 10-ounce jar set us back five dollars.

When we returned to the house we tallied up our bounty. We only spent $16 but have plenty of foodstuffs to make a good meal, keep us eating healthy for a while, and we helped out the economy on a very localized level, which for us is the whole point of visiting a farmers market.

"Farmers Market Finds" is a new periodic feature on Chicagoist that will highlight specific vendors of the local farmers markets, their wares, and raise awareness of the concept of buying and eating local, sustainable produce and foodstuffs. If you have suggestions or vendor recommendations for Chicagoist, feel free to e-mail us.