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A Tale Of Two Cities: Artisanal Food

Artisanal foods combine the locavore movement -- eating only locally-sourced food -- with a personal touch. Can the movement translate across communities?

different colored peppers on display

Photo: turbohamster (flickr)

Lincoln Park's Green City Market, where these peppers are for sale, is a favorite haunt for artisan food producers and locavores alike.

Artisanal foods combine the locavore movement — eating only locally-sourced food — with a personal touch.

Sweet Home Chicago

Artisanal food has new businesses springing up, from small candy makers to syrup producers in the Chicago area.

Elizabeth Madden owns Rare Bird Preserves in Oak Park. She uses local fruits for her unique preserves, like apricot almond.

Rather than compete with one another, many of the artisanal producers work together.

“This is an incredibly supportive community,” Madden says.

Can Big-City Ideas Translate To The Rural Community?

Outside the big city, Steven Hopp wanted to bring the locavore mindset to a former Virginia railroad town.

Hopp, who along with his wife, author Barbara Kingsolver, penned 2007′s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year Of Food Life,” decided to open a restaurant built around the same principle — local, fine-dining.

Opened in 2007, Meadowview’s the Harvest Table has yet to turn a profit. Many members of the community, where the median income is merely $15,750, see the restaurant as out of reach.

Hopp has learned how to work with the community, editing his menus to read as simple as possible. He keeps the cost low and comparable with other sit-down chains, but many still are turned off by the idea.

“If this was a really successful model, there would be one between every 7-Eleven in the country. This provides a model for people to think about,” Hopp says.

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Liz Leslie

Liz Leslie is a journalist based in Chicago. When she's not writing about food, she's likely eating food. Or dreaming about food.

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