I will say, when I get enthralled with something, I get REALLY enthralled with it. I mean, I want to know all about it, the good, the bad, the ugly. While participating in the Illinois Farm Family program last year, I started looking at events that I could go to, ask questions, and not get weird looks. The great thing about that last fact, is, I was able to go to a place, that I had visited last year as a winner of tickets, but this time with a different frame of mind. The Good Food Festival that takes place here in Chicago in the UIC Pavillion in March.
At this festival, vendors from all over the Midwest, gather together to show how their farming works, and there are various classes that you can take. Those include things like composting, starting a mini-garden (or farming) of your own, raising livestock or poultry, and so much more. Canning, and preserving were offered as well, but I have a handle on that, or so I think.
One of the things that I was super interested in this year, and will probably be for years to come, is identifying the best cuts of beef for my family for the price. We talked about that briefly during a visit to the Martz Family Farm in Maple Park, IL. We were told that you wanted marbling in your beef because that was flecks of flavor, which also helps when grilling because it provides the fat that makes your steaks and burgers juicy.
Seeing how my mother purchased a half of a cow along with my uncle last year, and it lasted for almost half a year for her, I’m even more sold on the fact that we need to be grateful to cattle farmers and the great care that so many of them give to their livestock. Below are some of the cuts of meat and parts of cattle that can be offered in grocery stores or from your local butcher. I do prefer to get my meat from a butcher or at least make sure to shop local when I can via a grocery store. During the summer months, I love treating the family to meat from Faith Farms here in Illinois. While I do recognize that the meat per pound is a bit more expensive, it makes me feel good to know that I am supporting a farmer and her family. Plus, she just provides such great product!
The Good Food Festival also provided some forms of being able to visit beekeepers which lots of farmers rely on. They are an important aspect in agriculture, and while I didn’t stay for the class, I will say that I am looking forward to learning more, and cross referencing the farmers that I do have contact with. I’d like to know how they may or may not use or rely on bees in their day-to-day routines. Until then, I’ll enjoy all of the flavors of honey that I can get my hands on.
Until next year, I encourage you to go and visit the Illinois Farm Families website, and get some information for yourself, and if you can, to try to reach out to one of your local farmers, or Farmer’s Markets, or SOME agricultural service to learn more about the food that finds its way to your table.