Why plans to connect big grocers and small farmers haven’t worked, the impact of inflation on local restaurants and more in your Chicago news roundup



Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. This is a roughly five minute read that will educate you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be cloudy with snow showers and highs near 26 degrees. Tonight expect light snow and lows near 22. Tomorrow will be cloudy, also with a chance of snow, and highs near 28. Sunday will be sunny with highs near 31.

top story

Big box supermarkets and small local farmers in Chicago struggle to work together

Nine years ago, the collective of urban growers, owned by women and blacks, landed a bargain selling produce from a Bridgeport farm to Walgreens.

At the time, the Deerfield-based drugstore giant was at the forefront of stores touting expanded offerings of fresh foods, fruits and vegetables, especially in neighborhoods considered food deserts – without much access to supermarkets. Austin, Texas-based retailer Whole Foods also used this manual. He touted buying from small farms in the Midwest when he opened a store six years ago in Englewood. Even Walmart touted locally grown cantaloupes and corn when it opened a supercenter in Austin.

The idea behind all of these efforts was to increase the availability of healthy, local produce in neighborhoods where they were scarce while supporting the region’s agricultural ecosystem. Now Whole Foods in Englewood has closed and there are few signs of local produce in Walgreens and Walmart stores.

So why have such ambitious plans to connect big grocers with small farmers failed, and what happened to the farms?

Walgreens’ partnership with Urban Growers Collective and other local farms ended after 15 months because it proved too costly to integrate small farms into a massive supply chain.

The desire to grow produce at the volume needed to sell to large stores, in many cases, has left local farmers struggling because they have not been able to grow fast enough to meet the request. And, although people love farmers markets, value and efficiency seem to dominate their thinking when going to a grocery store.

“The more the grocery industry turns to online shopping and delivery, the less interested the consumer will be in where these products come from,” said Steve Tracey, executive director of the Center for Supply Chain Research at the Penn State University.

Sandra Guy from WBEZ talks more about the relationship between supermarkets and local farmers here.

More news you need

  1. A Cook County judge ordered the temporary custody of Heather Mack’s daughter by a maternal cousin of Mack from Colorado at the end of a contentious hours-long hearing yesterday – despite Mack asking the jail judge to choose the girl’s grandmother instead. Mack is currently incarcerated at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on arraignment for conspiring to kill her own mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, in 2014.
  2. A judge today acquitted Ruben Roman of firearms charges related to a 2021 shooting that sparked a series of events that ended with the shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo by a police officer. Chicago police in 2021. Our Andy Grimm has more on the judge’s decision here.
  3. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said yesterday his agency will acquire a helicopter to try to track car thieves, search for missing persons and offer assistance during large-scale emergencies. Cook County Council has approved $11.4 million in next year’s budget to get one, according to Dart, who said the money was carried over from funds that weren’t spent in the 2022 budget.
  4. After months of pushback from community members concerned about mega-festivals taking over a neighborhood park, the Chicago Park District is implementing changes to the permitting process. Events with 10,000 or more attendees per day will now need to receive approval from the District Board of Commissioners before the permit is issued, according to the Park District.
  5. The Field Museum will not voluntarily sign off on employee efforts to form a union, museum officials announced today. Leaders of the union effort say a majority of the 330 workers he would represent have signed on, but museum officials want to see it put to a vote.
  6. In other union news, University of Illinois at Chicago faculty members have voted to authorize a strike as their union negotiates better pay, lighter workloads and stronger job security . Leaders of the UIC United Faculty union said 77% of their nearly 900 members voted and nearly all backed a strike. A walkout date has not been announced.
  7. At Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen, the price of a corned beef on rye sandwich is on the rise. At Lou Malnati’s Pizza, customers are seeing an overall increase of 8%. It’s all part of the impact of inflation on local restaurants, which has also prompted places to cut hours and portions, reports WBEZ’s Michael Gerstein.
  8. Fifty-five storefronts in Chicago will come alive during the holidays and cold winter months, providing showcase space for entrepreneurs and artists, thanks to a $2 million program aimed at generating much-needed foot traffic. As retailers that have managed to survive the pandemic are still struggling to attract inflation-weary consumers, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has launched the so-called “Small Business Storefront Activation Program.”
  9. Former First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the tour to promote her new book, “The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times,” to sold-out crowds earlier this week at the Warner Theater in Washington. Our Lynn Sweet was there and has more about the event and book details here.
  10. About 2.7 million travelers to Illinois are expected to fly for Thanksgiving this year, according to AAA figures, which means you can expect pre-pandemic levels of congestion at airports and on the roads. Our Mitch Dudek shares tips for Thanksgiving travelers here.
  11. Chicago’s holiday season unofficially kicks off tonight with the lighting of the tree in Millennium Park, ushering in more than a month of holiday cheer. Check out our 2022 Party Guide for a full list of party activities to do; theatre, film, music and dance offerings up for grabs; and recipes to try at home – courtesy of local chefs. Pick up a copy of our Sunday newspaper for a premium print version of the guide or dive online here.

A bright

Chicago Chef Bill Kim’s Korean Rice Cake Soup with Stewed Dumplings Recipee

Just about everyone has a dish or dessert that they associate with the holidays, a dish that can feel right at home or bring you back to holiday celebrations past one bite at a time.

For our “Holiday dining at home” series, we caught up with Chef Bill Kim, of urbanbelly (1542 N. Damen Ave.) and The Table at Crate (35 Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook), and asked him about the holiday recipe that feels like home to him.

For Kim, it’s Tteok Guk with Mandu, or Korean rice cake soup with simmered dumplings.

“Korean rice cake soup is my favorite thing – definitely a childhood memory for me,” Kim told The Sun-Times. “The dish is something eaten as a party when you’re a kid in Korea.”

Chef Bill Kim is pictured at urbanbelly in Wicker Park.

It’s also a soup you can have on New Year’s Eve for good luck next year, Kim said.

“I always ask my mom to do it for me every year because I love her so much,” Kim said. “It’s something we connect with and it reminds me of how I grew up as a kid.”

Ingredients include 8 oz store-bought raw Korean barbecue beef (Bulgogi), 5 cups low-sodium beef broth, 1 cup cold water, 1 tbsp minced garlic, 10 store-bought beef balls in store, 2 cups sliced ​​fresh rice cakes and 1⁄2 cup chopped green onion.

Chef Kim walks you through how to put it all together to create this delicious dish here.

From the press gallery

Your daily question☕

What makes Chicago the best place to celebrate the holidays?

Email us at [email protected] and we might feature your response in the next afternoon edition.

Yesterday we asked you: what advice would you give to someone who is using CTA for the first time?

Here’s what some of you said…

“Prepare your ticket. Be patient.” – Rick Cotton

“If you’ve been at your bus stop for more than 30 minutes, there’s probably been a route change.” — Elle Qohen

“Sit near the door and/or behind the driver.” — Crystal Harris

“Look before you sit down.” — Laura Kotelman

“Don’t fall asleep, you end up downtown or in the suburbs!” — Gerard Valadez

“Look at a map before you go!” This is extremely useful to ensure that you don’t miss your stop. — Matthew Verive

“Unfortunately, keep a mass box with you. Do not wear jewelry/fur coat/purse/backpack/on the phone or have earphones. Stay in the middle of the platform. form. If you can, travel in a pack. Above all, keep your eyes and ears open. — Pamela Howard

“Leave early, plan your route in advance and know an alternative because sometimes things can and do happen.” — Jenn Krause

“Stay away from your phone. If you listen to music, play an earphone. — Brian Johnson

Allow extra time as trains and buses are regularly late despite what your app says. Also, don’t get too involved on your phone and miss your stop – said with experience. — howard moore

“Asking questions. It can be extremely confusing, especially transferring from an el to the subway and back to the el. Not to mention getting and using Ventra cards, which is also confusing. The most people are happy to help, or so I found. Rose Panieri

“Buy a Ventra card.” — Andrew Zwick

“Sit down if possible. Do not block doorways or aisles. Keep your feet away from furniture. Pay attention to where you are and where you are going. Enjoy the ride, it’s different and special. — Patricia McDonald

“Get the Ventra app so you can track times, see which stops are ahead of you, and see what alternative buses/routes are available, if your chosen bus disappears.” — Cheryl Franciszkiewicz

“Relax and take in spectacular sights, stunning architecture and skies – people watch, enjoy!” — Georgianne Myra Gooday

Thanks for reading the afternoon edition of the Chicago Sun-Times.Think we missed a story? Email us here.

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