McHenry County Goes Local

By Jon Gill for SUST 210 online

There are many ways to become more environmentally friendly. You can do the classic reduce/reuse/recycle, you can carpool, you can even go to lengths like putting solar panels on your roof. One thing that anyone can do that makes a much bigger impact than most would think is eating locally grown food. This will make you healthier, grow the local economy, and reduce carbon emissions by minimizing the shipping of the food. McHenry County in Illinois is a leader in local food production. There are many ways for citizens to eat local food and they are currently trying to make it even easier than ever.

One of the greatest parts of McHenry County is that 60% of its land is farmland. This makes it much easier to find food grown close to home. Many towns have local farmers markets as well. Woodstock, for example, has local venders sell food on the square every Tuesday and Sunday in the warmer months. This trend is also looking to grow. According to Sean Ducey, garden center manager at Whispering Hills Garden & Landscape Center in Cary: “All you have to do is visit your local farmers market and see how many people are interested in buying local. Sustainability will naturally grow with the changing world around us. As food, fuel and living costs increase, we are going to find ways to save.”

Gill image - buildingAnother great thing about McHenry County are the local restaurants. One Crystal Lake restaurant, Duke’s Alehouse and Kitchen, uses as much local food as possible. They have even gone to lengths such as building a greenhouse to grow vegetables and herbs for more of the year than they ever could before. The restaurant also composts their waste and recycles. They have managed to eliminate 99% of their waste.

Green restaurants and access to local farmers markets isn’t enough for residents of McHenry County. Currently, there are groups of people trying to pass legislation to allow backyard chickens. This would allow people to keep chickens as pets and raise them to lay eggs. That’s the ultimate in locally-sourced food: from one’s own backyard. Hopefully this proposal will get passed and people will be able to continue to pursue new ways to augment local food sources.

Each week during the Fall 2013 semester, students in Prof. Mike Bryson’s SUST 210 Sustainable Future online class at Roosevelt University will contribute blog posts on suburban sustainability issues to the Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future website.

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About Suburban Sustainability

Founder and editor of the Schaumburg's Sustainability Future social media project (est. Earth Day, 2011)
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