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posted: 7/1/2013 8:35 AM

First Local Flavors Dinner to be held in DeKalb

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Submitted by DeKalb County Community Gardens and Feed'em Soup

A new dinning experience will be available from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, July 19, at Feed'em Soup, 122 S. First St. in downtown DeKalb. A joint effort will bring to northern Illinois its first Local Flavors Dinner.

A Local Flavors Dinner involves a special menu where all of the food is locally sourced within 50 miles of DeKalb. The dinner also involves connecting local growers and chefs. It is a celebration of the food we can grow right here in the county.

Local Flavors Dinners was initiated by the Illinois Stewardship Alliance in Central Illinois. ISA is a membership-based organization, according to its mission statement. It promotes environmentally sustainable, economically viable, socially just local food systems. ISA also is helping to promote this first dinner in northern Illinois.

"Eating locally grown food is good for the economy, health and community, and good for the environment," said Dan Kenney, executive director of the DeKalb County Community Gardens, one of the planners of the event.

The event is co-sponsored by DeKalb County Community Gardens and Feed'em Soup. Tickets cost $12 each and proceeds will be divided between Feed'em Soup and DCCG. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Feed'em Soup and other locations in DeKalb to be announced later.

The food for the meal will be provided by Montabano Farms of Sandwich, an organic produce farm providing CSA boxes and selling at farmers markets, and by DeKalb County community gardens around the county. The meat will be provided by Scott Hassellman Farms of Marengo, raising grass feed beef, pork, and free range poultry.

According to a Local Food, Farms, and Jobs report presented to the Illinois General Assembly, $48 billion is spent by Illinois citizens each year on food and $46 billion of that amount leaves the state's economy as we spend money on food that is prepared an average of 1,500 miles from our plate. Buying fresh, unprocessed foods also helps prevent obesity and decreases other health risks.

A recent impact study of Kane County found that if 2,157 acres was used to raise 24 different vegetable crops the county could serve 445,000 people in the Chicago metro region, and this would contribute approximately $15 million in annual economic activity and create more than 100 new jobs in the county.

"Focusing on the great sources we have right here, locally, will help all of the community in many ways. We hope this Local Flavors Dinner introduces many DeKalb County residents to the benefits of connecting local growers to the table," Kenney said.

There also will be artwork on display from "Art in the Gardens" project of the DeKalb County Community Gardens, a project involving local artists with children and individuals of all ages in creating art in many forms in the gardens and for the gardens. There also will be live music provided by local musicians.