Some of the vendors at the Chicago French Market , opening tomorrow, are very familiar. Others -- Saigon Sisters, Chicago Organics -- may not be, probably because they're start-ups.
Jim Slama should ring a bell to foodies, though. He's one of the names behind Chicago Organics, the only vendor offering entirely certified organic produce and dairy.
Slama, the founder of FamilyFarmed.org and one of the area's most ardent champions of local agriculture, started Chicago Organics with a small group of investors expressly for the market.
"We just thought it would be a great opportunity to do this, having a 100 percent organic vendor there, with a strong focus on local products," Slama says. "And we're going to be very competitive."
Eggs and milk will be from all Midwest growers. But don't be shocked to see bananas and Washington apples there, either. That's the downside of opening a fresh and, ideally, local produce operation in December in Chicago. There's just not enough local produce to fill what they need to fill, Slama says. (But just wait until summer, he says.)
As for prices -- which market operator Sebastien Bensidoun has pledged will allow anyone to shop there, not just the Whole Foods crowd -- at Chicago Organics, a half-gallon of Farmers' Creamery whole milk (from Iowa) will be $3.98. Organic apples will be $1.99 a pound.