How to Eat “Local” in Chicago for One Month

Dear readers,

This post begins a series of entries by Cesar Torres, who has remained a quiet but ever-present part of Sabasalads up to now. As some of you may know, I have relocated to London for the moment, so for the next 10 weeks, there will be posts from both sides of the Atlantic coming your way. From the UK, you can expect reports of new markets and recipes, along the same lines of what has come before. From Chicago, Cesar has a special project that he will be updating here. Watch to see how it unfolds!

Yours, MDS

How to Eat “Local” in Chicago for One Month


It’s easy as of late to toss around the word “green” to impress folks at a cocktail party, or to imply a commitment to sustainability. However, how often are we held accountable to being “green”? What’s more, what does it really mean to eat “local” when one lives in a large city like Chicago?

For those of us who might label ourselves sensualists in the sense of taste, thinking local doesn’t always figure as prominently in our psyches as you might think. Sure, I can pick up organic kohlrabi and plums at Whole Foods, but the fuel costs and other resources used to transport it from California soon breaks down the sustainability of that food choice. This lovely ingredient may be organic, and it may be good for my nutrition and immune system, but is it good for the environment?

That’s the question I have asked myself for some time. In order to put my money where my mouth is, I will be eating local in Chicago for one month. Here’s my short “local” philosophy that will help drive this experiment:

“Local foods are my top priority. This experiment doesn’t necessitate becoming vegetarian, but it advocates eating ethical meats. When an ingredient becomes indispensable and no local option is available, the priority will be on supporting a local business.”

I expect this experiment will help my waistline, but I worry it will impact my budget. After all, who visits farmers markets? Yuppies. Therefore, I am going to keep my budget the same so I can see if I can eat adequately.

My weekly budget:

$80 a week

I think it’s also worth mentioning some of the places I will and won’t frequent for my grocery shopping. Look in this series of blog posts for those places, as well as a list of typical ingredients I will be able to buy (and some I won’t be able to eat at all. Sorry, citrus).

I’ll also be blogging this jointly with Sabasalads, so look for tasty recipes derived from my ingredients. I will post items and prices for things I buy. I also want to hear from you, so give me a shout with your comments.


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