Now I'm not saying it hasn't ever been a challenge. And I'm not saying I never have any doubts (I do, quite often). Nothing's perfect. But wholly plant based goodness this has been a pretty amazing past few months. And I'm so grateful to have experienced all this joy (ok, and even the unsavory parts too - where are you without some triumphs and troubles, right?). So I wanted to take a moment. To spread the love. And share a few of the things that I'm loving right now. Cuz hey, all you need is love, right?
PILSEN COMMUNITY MARKET
(loving it so much, we came back for more!)
As you know, this summer our newest addition to our market schedule has been Pilsen in the good ol’ Chi. Not having lived in the city for a while now, has me itching to be back. And while I'm not quite "on my feet" enough to make the move - I have been loving getting to spend a few Sundays in the city at the Pilsen Market. (Yes, ok. Perhaps this market pick was slightly selfish.) But, manna banana - I picked the right neighborhood to hang in. I have never in my life felt so included in a real, well, community. Who’da thunk this little niche of an area on the south side would embrace us with such open arms. It’s a small market, but a mighty one. (Kinda like us!) And we’ve enjoyed being there so so much, that we decided to work a little harder and up the ante, cuz we just love it there SO so much. Instead of just being there every other week, we are now officially - from July through the end of season – (wait for it, wait for it) a FULL TIME vendor / squee! So please, swing by any ol’ Sunday you like (just get there before the end of Oct) and get smashed with us sometime. And get a little slice of life in this cute, urban, ohso welcoming (not to mention hip and fun) neighborhood. We’re lovin it and we’re certain you’ll love it too.
Sundays @ 18th / Halsted St (Chicago Community Bank parking lot) 9am-2pm
(Brands that inspire…)
Anytime a brand attempts to off the (shall we say, evils) of “big” food, I’m with them. When that company just so happens to be plant strong and concerned about the effects of the dairy industry too – well then, in that case, (you guessed it), I’m in love. More and more brands are emerging with this focus all the time, but this is one of the first (that I know of at least) – that’s got the backing to compete with big food, much less have an impact on the market. I mean, have you seen their pitch deck? It’s simply genius. And makes SO much sense. Even if I wasn’t already living plant strong, I think I would be sold. Not to mention that I’m SO lovin the relentless passion to create a business structure out of wanting to do something fulfilling that matters. I relate to that a whole bunch. Might be on a teenier scale, but regardless, I’m behind it. (By the way - they are a mostly mayo, proactively replacing eggs with plants type company, about to launch an eggless cookie dough mix. Sounds uber crazy good, right?)
(Speaking of genius…)
I am seriously in love with this company. I’m a borderline stalker of theirs. You may not know it, but I am a numbers and data geek at heart. While I love being creative and baking thing that are safe for all with love, I also love numbers and analysis. And this company is the trifecta blend of things I love (food + data + creative). Not to mention they did a pretty rad blog post about the company mentioned above. Plus, they’re based in Chicago (love local), have an office dog (named Dexter, no less), and volunteer at one of my favorite causes – The Chicago Food Depository. (Um, seriously when can I start working here?) If you haven’t checked them out – do. You’ll scour the blog for hours. I’m not ashamed to say that I have, often.
(You say you want a revolution…)
I’m absolutely loving the call to action this business is promoting. Giving the power to the people, literally – this co-op is making waves (the good kind). They are currently rallying for owners. And the owners will decide which businesses and products will be sold in this unique concept grocery store. Co-ops are nothing new. But I feel like so few do it well (and make it to execution). Know your farmer has been a buzz worthy phrase of late. And we love that they’re taking that one step further. Knowing your food (from your plate of organic locally farmed brunch to the beer you drink on the weekend) means knowing the person that makes it. That’s part of what has made doing the farmers markets so rewarding for me. I’m not a farmer so I’m not growing product. But I do cultivate and tend to the good I make with a lot of care and love, just as a farmer would. And interacting with the customers who consume and (hopefully) enjoy that product, creates a very powerful community. Don’t you just love that?
(A journey to health has never been so sweet.)
I believe my mom tipped me off to this one, which is appropriate because we are both gleefully powering through her book at a moment (wouldn’t you know it – just like kids in a candy shop – very fitting). If you know Jennifer Esposito, you probably think of her work as an actress. But behind the scenes she (like most actresses, I presume who we tend to only see certain limited sides of) is so much more than that. Lately, you will see her take on a bigger role as activist, brave sufferer and voice of/for celiac’s. Oh yea, and bake shop owner to boot - new role model alert. (Did you catch her on The Daily Show? It was the highlight of my week. I put down my spatula during a long night of farmers market baking to watch it. Which trust me, is a BIG deal. Not much tears me away.) With the advent of eating gluten free becoming somewhat of a "trend" of late, it’s become to seem more a fad than the serious and grossly misunderstood health issue it is. But Jennifer is here to clear things up. I’m midway through her book right now (not to mention feverishly liking everything her bakery posts on social media) and it really got to my core. (Yes, reading the intro caused some tearing up. So what.) Despite not suffering from the disease myself, I can relate to various aspects of Jennifer’s journey in so many ways. She speaks a lot to her childhood. Growing up with various ailments and with a sick parent can cause some tension and alienation that others have no perception of, even if they’re causing it. As a preemie and a frequently sick child, I understood. And I too grew up most of my childhood with an ailing (though mostly healthy now, thank the goodness) parent. Regardless, Jennifer’s story makes things personal, so whether you grew up or have had those experiences or not, you’ll be able to relate - on a human level. (Remember the triumphs and troubles I was talking about...?) Trust me. And yes yes, ok. So I love and admire the bakery part too. No doy. It gives me hope that there is a place for businesses like my small little operation. And who knows, maybe someday I'll actually have the capital to put it to fruition with an actual "facility" like Jennifer's. (But seriously, c’mon - just read her book already!!! I mean, can you say beach read?) Anyways. Love the book already. Can’t wait to finish. (Cuz, yano me - I’m all about journeys to health – partial health, complete health – anything that leads to less unnecessary suffering, especially when it comes with the realization that we can control a lot of that suffering by acknowledging what we’re putting in our mouths.) And further, I cannot wait to have an excuse to visit NYC again sometime soon – with the hope at a chance to be a patron at Jennifer’s gorgeously inviting bakery. I have a pretty big feeling that I’ll love it.
Okies. Enough blabbering from me. That’s what I’m mclovin’ right now (yeah, take that big food).
What are you loving this summer, sweet thangs?
Don’t wait another minute. Spread it around and share it!