Abby Mandel
(1933-2008)

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Creating Chicago’s first local and sustainable farmer’s market

For 30 years, Abby Mandel worked as a chef, cookbook author, and food columnist, all the while extolling the value of fresh, locally farmed foods – for individuals, the environment, and small farmers. In 1998, the lack of such fresh foods in Chicago spurred Mandel to create the Green City Market, the city’s only sustainable, certified organic farmers’ market. A nonprofit that operates from mid-May through December, the market features more than 40 sustainable and certified organic farmers, a membership base and volunteer network, plus thousands of regular shoppers. In addition, the market offers major educational programs in partnership with the City of Chicago and the Lincoln Park Zoo, as well as local chefs and “green” organizations. The project improves the quality of food on Chicago’s plates while supporting small, regional family farmers who practice sustainable farming techniques. That helps the environment, too, by ensuring that area streams are not filled with polluted run-off, soil is not eroded by large-scale monoculture crops, delicate ecosystems are not irreparably damaged, and the biodiversity of plant and animal species is maintained. Famed chef Alice Waters calls the Green City Market “the best sustainable market in the country.”