Edible Chicago is a quarterly magazine published and co-edited by Oak Parkers Ann Flood and Rebecca “R.J.” Liscum. This magazine – “The Story of Local Food, Season by Season” – is a beautifully produced collection of a dozen or so well-conceived and –written articles.
The summer issue, for instance, included a piece about pairing herbs with fruits and vegetables available at local farmers’ markets, an author’s reflections upon a family’s affection for dandelion salad, and a profile of Adam Seger, a Chicago mixologist who uses fresh herbs and other locally grown ingredients in his cocktails.
Edible Chicago is the local version of Edible Communities, which earlier this year won a James Beard award, the most well-regarded food-related award in the United States.
What did it mean to you to have Edible Communities recognized with a Beard award?
“We were absolutely thrilled and honored when we received news that Edible Communities Publications had won this prestigious, special award. Edible Chicago is grateful for our loyal following. It has been gratifying to learn that people feel the same way we do, and we’re proud to have a publication filled with honest and entertaining stories and recipes, and we’re glad to be able to share with the communities all the options out there for good food.”
How did you became involved in Edible Chicago and what drew them to promoting local food?
“We've always been interested in homegrown food and we’re passionate about preserving the small family farm. It's exciting from both of our perspectives that when we first began publishing Edible Chicago magazine three years ago, the interest in locally grown food was just coming on the radar of the public. Today, people now care more than ever about what they put on their table and if you can't grow it yourself, Edible Chicago is there to be a resource about where you can get it. The production of the publication has been the best possible way to merge both of our vocations and backgrounds with a love for home-grown foods and family, while actively supporting our local family farmers and local economy whenever possible.”
You probably go to the Oak Park Farmers’ Market now and again…but I’ve never seen you there. Do you have another source (like a garden) for your produce during the summer?
“As consumers, we try and frequent the Oak Park market a couple times per month for Wettstein organic eggs, soup bones and pork, Prairie Fruits Farm cheeses, Genesis Growers greens and Heartland meat, and Herbally Yours for vinegar.
“It’s a valuable addition that the market started offering meat, and also baked goods at Red Hen. The farmers market has become the place where you can purchase everything you need for a fresh home-cooked meal.
“Because we cover greater Chicago, we do make an effort to frequent farmers markets in many neighborhoods and communities. It has been especially gratifying to see markets growing in the last couple of years. It's also inspiring to recognize chefs purchasing ingredients at neighborhood markets for their restaurants.”
What do you think attracts readers to Edible Chicago?
“We are a very credible, high-quality niche publication with compelling storytelling and strict editorial guidelines. All of our content in the pages of Edible Chicago is decided upon based on the merits of the story or information we feel would best serve our readers. People don't pay to be featured in our magazine. There is that "pay to play" format out there, but in our opinion that lowers the bar on credibility. Edible Chicago magazine is published to serve the interests of our readers. And our advertisers know that they are in a publication that has a high level of credibility. That's why they come to us and choose to stay with us. And we value that. We've always felt that if we publish a great product, the advertiser support will follow.”
Are there any signs of “progress” in the Oak Park food scene, positive developments that you feel are in line with the mission of Edible Chicago?
“We think so. Adding additional vendors at the Oak Park Farmers Market has proven to be a very good move, as has the mid-week market.
“The Buzz Café has been a leader for years in serving organics and supporting farmers. And we have always felt that Marion Street Cheese Market has been a very strong supporter and leader by offering high-quality local products, and their staff is incredibly knowledgeable and helpful.
“Bleeding Heart Bakery is a great sign of Michelle Garcia's belief in the Oak Park food scene. Her ingredients are all organic and they source as locally as they can for their baked goods.
“From the start, the owners of the Kinderhook Tap gastro-pub have made a conscious effort to support local family farmers, food purveyors and farmers markets, and they serve microbrews on tap and locally distilled spirits.
“There is also an establishment that is slated to open this fall where a chain restaurant used to be -- promising that it will offer a "fresh, farm-to-table" menu changing with the seasons. How progressive is that? A local food restaurant replacing a chain!”
Rebecca Liscum, Publisher/Editor
Ann Flood, Co-Publisher/Editor