At the time, he and his family were relatively new -- but very devoted -- to the locavore movement. They were regular farmers market customers, they were getting versed in freezing, preserving and other storage techniques, they'd even ordered half a cow. Gardner chronicled this on his blog, Vital Information, and on the chat site LTHForum.com, in between his day job as a business background investigator.
Last year, as Gardner felt the "eat local" momentum gaining steam, he and Michael Morowitz, a friend from LTHForum, started toying around with a site that could serve as a local food clearinghouse. They launched the Local Beet early this year.
In that time, the Local Beet has picked up quite a following as a go-to resource for when you want to find a farmers market or locavore events around town.
And on Sunday, the group will host a farm dinner -- The Thing To Do these days if you're into eating local -- at Vicki Westerhoff's farm in Downstate St. Anne (Gardner has been a CSA shareholder in Westerhoff's farm for several years now).
"It's great to get out of the city. How many people get a chance to spend some time on a farm?," Gardner says.
Gardner has become a sort of poster boy for eating local. He walks the walk but in a non-threatening, regular Joe sort of way, showing the rest of us that it can be done, but not berating us when we don't.
"It's not like a religion. It's not something where you have to do it this way and if you don't you're a sinner," Gardner says. "Today, for example, I bought some Italian cheese at Bari. My wife and I, if we buy some imported cheese once in a while, it's not going to infringe on our principles or make us less of an advocate."
Gardner will be at the dinner; see for yourself what we mean. The event is only 40 bucks and a scenic 90-minute drive from Chicago.
Go to thelocalbeet.com for more details on the dinner and to buy tickets.