Still eating local, two weeks later
I’m faring quite well halfway through The Valley’s Local Food Challenge, eating only food grown and produced within 100 miles of Eau Claire. I thought I’d take up some space by telling you about some of the places I’ve been shopping.
Eau Claire Downtown Farmers Market, Phoenix Park
This is the obvious choice for local produce and products. Open Wednesday mornings, Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings, there are countless fruit and vegetable vendors with all sorts of produce ranging from green, golf-ball sized Thai eggplants to plump red raspberries. The best part about all the produce is the price. Most items are under $5, and many are $1 to $2. Local and reasonably priced. Very nice.
Other products at the market include bakery items, dairy foods and meats. These are also sensibly priced. I usually pay $3 for a loaf of bread, $3 for a half gallon of milk, between $3 and $5 for cheese, and anywhere between $4 and $8 for meats.
The difference between grocery and local meats is definitely noticeable. Local meats are juicer, more dense and more filling. In general they just taste better.
I’ve also noticed a great improvement in dairy quality. Before the challenge, I was not much of a milk drinker. If I was drinking milk, it was chocolate. But vast difference in flavor and freshness has made it my coffee substitute, without the caffeine. The cheeses and butter are also notably superior.
Just Local Foods, 772 First Ave.
On those days when the Eau Claire Downtown Farmers Market is not operating, your best local bet is Just Local Foods.
Offering everything that the farmers market offers (often from the same vendors) and more, this is the place to find local and regional produce, products and ingredients. Though the prices are a bit higher than the farmer’s market, they are still reasonable and affordable.
Weavers Country Store, E13765 US Highway 12, Fall Creek
Weavers Country Store carries a variety of local and regional items. Walking in, it is a bit like an old dry goods store, except everything is packaged in clear plastic bags of varying weights and sizes. They sell all sorts of flours, sugars, pastas, popcorns and candies.
The store also carries a variety of frozen pastries, vegetables, fruits and meats. If I want chicken, Weavers is the place to go. They have frozen chicken that is local (not organic) and tastes great. For under $5 you can get a package of two boneless, skinless chicken breasts that are large enough to feed four people. The chickens are raised on a farm in Fall Creek.
The store also carries a local Colby cheese and fresh cheese curds.
Klinger Farm Market, 12756 132nd Street, Chippewa Falls
At the end of a country road in rural Chippewa Falls you will find Klinger Farm Market. Another great place for local produce, the market offers a variety of homegrown produce at affordable prices.
The store also has a dry goods section similar to Weavers and carries items such as popcorn, flour and homemade noodles.
Klinger Farm Market selection also offers a variety of local foods, including honey and a variety of Silver Spring products, made in Eau Claire.
Well, there is where I have been shopping. Now a question for you, readers: am I missing somewhere good? Let me know on my blog, at http://blogs.spectatornews.com.