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Beyond the Grocery Store: Fresh Produce in Chicago

Delicious recipes that kids will eat start with delicious ingredients. Chicago has options beyond the grocery stores to find food directly from the farm or to get affordable options delivered straight to your door. Farmers markets, CSAs and more are available.


Farmers markets

Farmers markets bring the region’s farms into the city so that urban dwellers can also access farm-fresh foods. Chicago has more than 60 farmers markets across its neighborhoods. While their openings have been delayed due to Covid-19, you’ll soon be able to shop there again, though with a few changes. Expect to see social distancing rules and additional sanitation measures that will include spacing booths 6 feet apart, masks required for everyone over the age of 2 years, and vendors handing all produce until after purchase. Check HERE for the full set of rules and reopening dates.

In the meantime, some farmers markets are offering online-only or curbside pickups during Covid-19. It’s easy, shop their selections each week during their ordering windows and pick-up on the designated day. Find an online farmers market near you, HERE.

To help make the farm-fresh produce even more affordable, LINK Up Illinois is a program for LINK users to double the value of their LINK purchases at participating farmers markets. For each dollar you spend with your LINK card at a participating farmers market, you will receive a $1 coupon that can be spent on fruits or vegetables.


Another option for purchasing locally-grown produce is a community supported agriculture (CSA) program. With a CSA, a farm sells “shares” of their most recently harvested fruits and vegetables and delivers them to the home or pick-up sites for their members. Some CSAs also provide meat, dairy, and eggs. Cost depends on the size of produce boxes and frequency of deliveries. The content of the boxes will vary based on what the farm grows and when it is won’t know exactly what you’re getting, but you’ll know it’ll be fresh! Some CSA offerings in Chicago can be found HERE.


Top Box Foods is a non-profit community organization offering monthly deliveries of meat and produce at up to 40% off retail prices. With a motto of “healthy food matters, where you live shouldn’t” Top Box Foods’ mission is to bring affordable food options to areas of Chicago that have fewer grocery options. Top Box even offers local meat sourced from farms in Indiana. Usually delivered to neighborhood partner pick-up locations, Top Box is currently offering home deliveries during Covid-19. Browse their offerings HERE.

Located in Lawndale, Farm on Ogden is a partnership between the Chicago Botanic Garden and Lawndale Christian Health Center to provide affordable produce fresh from its urban farm. Farm on Ogden has an indoor market so it’s easy to stay stocked on fresh produce year-round. Its June 9th reopening now has pre-registration and timed entries for social distancing safety measures. More information available HERE.

About the author: Angela Loewen is a dietetic intern currently earning her Master’s degree in nutrition at the University of Illinois Chicago. Angela has a passion for community nutrition and the role it plays in preventing chronic diseases. She believes teaching kids to cook sets them up for a lifetime of healthy-eating habits.

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