Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Downtown's Horn of Plenty

            Downtown South Bend has been defying the trend of becoming an urban food desert with the help of The South Bend Farmer’s Market, and its newest ally, the Purple Porch Co-Op.
            The South Bend Farmer’s Market has been bringing fresh food into the city since 1911, where it was set up on the Colfax Bridge.  The informal bridge location had done so well that “there were often more than 100 sellers and thousands of buyers on a single day.”  By 1923, the market had become so popular that a new location was established on South Fellows Street, and then later moved to its current location on Northside Boulevard in 1928.

            For over one hundred years, local farmers and sellers have been bringing fresh food from all around Michiana, like blueberries from Berrien County, chickens from Fulton County, and helping keep a healthy harvest of lettuce right here in town…and by lettuce, I mean money.
              As Brian Halweil states, “money spent on local produce at farmers’ markets, at locally owned shops, or on locally produced foods stays in the community longer, creating jobs, raising incomes, and supporting farmers.  Developing nations that emphasize greater food self-reliance can thereby retain precious foreign exchange and avoid the whims of international markets.”

This is one of the focuses of the Purple Porch Co-Op in addition to bringing healthy, organic, food to the community.  The Co-op is supported by customers, but those same customers can buy in, and become “member-owners.”  By doing so, your money goes into the business to help sustain this local food provider, helps food producer, and offers you as a customer rebates, discounts, and a voice within the business on what member-owners want to see the co-op accomplish in the future.  In addition to these benefits, it shows the Michiana area, the state, and the country, that South Bend is committed to fresh, sustainable, and healthy food systems.
A great feature of the co-op is online ordering.  For those people who may not be able to do their shopping during the SB Farmer’s Market hours or PP Co-op hours, they can order food online from the Purple Porch and pick up at their location in downtown.
Between these two businesses and the patronage to keep them going for 100 more years, Michiana communities will become physically and financially stronger.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tuesday Chewsday

What are you eating around Michiana?
Let me know in the comments below, and share what local dish you had and where.

I had one of my personal favorites at the South Bend Farmer's Market Cafe, Ham and Bean soup.  They make it fresh every Tuesday and serve it with a huge slice of tender cornbread and some chopped white onion upon request.  I know some readers out there may turn their nose up at this, but I can't get enough of it, and apparently other South Bender's can't either.  Time and time again, I see many locals show up for their weekly bowl.

I think that tastes just as good as my mom's recipe (maybe better, but don't tell her that).  In addition to great Ham and Beans, the cafe offers a classic menu of Americana diner food.  They have all of the favorite breakfast dishes, prepared with farm fresh eggs and local produce, as well as an awesome lunch menu, featuring huge burgers made with fresh beef patties.

If you're in Goshen this week, make sure to stop by one of my favorite restaurants in Michiana, Constant Spring.  In addition to their great craft beer list, they have a great menu that is focused on sourcing local ingredients.  As stated on their homepage, "Here at Constant Spring we believe that knowing where our food comes from is very important, especially if we are inviting you to eat it."  

Michiana has some great hidden gems when it comes to dining, and some of them are making sustainability a main dish.  Let's find them, share them here and with the world. 



Thursday, October 3, 2013

Food for Thought

If you read my "About This Blog" entry, I'm sure you would conclude that this picture illustrates the saying, "You are what you eat."  And of course you would be right, however, by looking at this picture from a different perspective, other questions come to light.

This piece was painted by Giuseppe Arcimboldo and the subject is Rudolph II, the Holy Roman Emperor, portrayed as Vertumnus, the Roman god of seasons, bounties of food, and change.

The American food system has become so large, reaching the four corners of the world, that seasons don't really matter anymore.  Large chain grocery stores will almost always carry the same products year around.  The only thing that changes is the price and where in the world the item came from.  Because of this fact, most people don't consider changing how they cook to adapt to the seasons, and often just use the same ingredients year in and year out.  This routine allows for people to eat the same dishes and to never explore the wonderful bounty that local farmers and food producers offer.

Here are some questions to chew over:
If we didn't have access to certain foods year-round, how would that change the way we eat?
If we were to illustrate ourselves with the foods we consume, what would the portrait look like?
If foods reflect who we are, what does our modern food system say about us?

Tags: Food for Thought, Vertumnus, Arcimboldo, food system  




Wednesday, October 2, 2013

About This Blog: You Are What You Eat

As a foodie I love to talk about food, think about food, read about food, cook food, and of course, eat food.  Food is one of life's great pleasures.

Cooking is a passion of mine and when I set out to make a meal, I always try to start at absolute scratch.  I want to know what it takes to make a meal from the bitter beginning to the rewarding finale.  I wake up at 6 a.m. so as to form loaves of bread to rise and be ready for the oven by 8 a.m.,  I painstakingly peel little tiny pearl onions to put into my Beef Bourguingnon, I shake my head in disgust when a yolk in prematurely popped in the frying pan.

I am meticulous when it comes to food...some may even say I am a snob.

If it is snobbish to want the best of the best and the freshest of the fresh to make my meal the most delicious and nutritious, then I am a snob.  However, I think more people need to really look at their food with a critical snobby eye.

When buying an item from the grocery store, what sorts of questions do you think about?  I try (but not always succeed) to think of questions like:  Where does this item come from?  What sort of customer are they trying to sell it to?  Would I pay more for an organic version?  Are these companies selling images or food?

It is is this sort of thinking that has made me begin to explore the American food system and how it shapes (for better and for worse) the global economy, scientific advancement, and of course, each of us.

As the saying goes, "You are what you eat."  And if that is true...what am I?  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Scarecrow's Glimpse Behind the Curtain

Like the Scarecrow, consumers would be shocked to see the horrors lying just beneath the surface of their favorite store bought foods. Chiptole's new ad shines a light on how broken our food system is in this cartoon allegory, however, is this corporation inviting us to join their "pure imagination"?