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Saving Honeybees, recognizing one local beekeeper

In honor of the recent National Honeybee Day (Saturday, August 18), let’s take a closer look into one natural product that’s about as “bee-friendly” as it gets; meet one local beekeeper who has redefined the standard practice of producing honey, instead managing beekeeping on his own property and seeing that all profits go toward an organization that he and his wife care deeply about.

Sunset’s Lake Forest store sells 9oz jars of Natural Honey by Allen, now featured by the checkout counters. By all accounts, this is the only local honey that does not have any chemicals to preserve freshness or enhance flavor. A man of many talents, hobbies and trades, company founder Allen Kracower initially developed an interest in harvesting honeybees after his wife beat breast cancer. It was Caryn Kracower, a survivor herself who received successful treatment from the aforesaid hospital, who helped start a fund for patients recovering from breast cancer and needed everyday items needed while in recovery mode; all of the proceeds go toward Lake Forest Hospital in Caryn’s name.

Honey has healing qualities to it, according to homeopathic medicinal practitioners and non-licensed believers. For some time, Kracower recalls doctors with different specialties requesting honey to be used on their patients suffering from diseases like cancer and emphysema. The minimal filtration of Honey by Allen helps it retain more natural pollen grains, and consuming pollen from honey may reduce unpleasant seasonal allergy symptoms and could even help treat asthma. Although technically off the record, the results from those honey-based treatments proved astonishingly beneficial. It’s only through friendly beekeeping techniques that the bees can survive as they would in the wild.

“Bees are dying from mites that kill them,” says Kracower about the unfortunate trend. “We are treatment-free beekeepers, helping them survive naturally – even replacing the Queen; we do lose a lot of bees.”

In an effort to keep as many bees alive as possible, Kracower manages 15 hives with 40-50k bees in each one, all located on his private property in Mettawa, Illinois. Buying Lake Forest’s Honey by Allen will help bees thrive, as Kracower devotes himself to protecting local bee populations, and takes great care to produce his honey in a way that will keep his Lake Forest bees safe, happy and healthy for years to come.

Lake Forest Honey by Allen is minimally processed, which increases its nutritional value and overall quality. The honey is heated gently and filtered minimally. Consequently, Lake Forest Honey by Allen retains more healthful nutrients, antioxidants and minerals than more heavily processed honey. The nutrients and beneficial compounds in Lake Forest Honey by Allen makes the honey a smarter alternative to more refined sugars.

Come bring your family and friends to meet the bees and their beekeeper, Allen Kracower on Saturday, September 8 at 10 a.m. for a fun demonstration at our Lake Forest store.

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JUL
31

Beyond the brush: Local artist renders mural at Lake Forest store

 

“Sunset Foods feels like a neighborhood – it’s a place where you can run into someone from down the street, talk to someone who knows your name and exchange a recipe, or talk about what your children are up to,” says longtime Lake Bluff shopper and artist Sandra Bacon of her favorite place to shop.

Reminiscing on the five-store gourmet grocery’s longstanding history in the community, and its unparalleled food and customer service offered, Bacon awakened her native language of painting to show her appreciation.

“This store feels like a throwback to old time graciousness; managers who have worked [at Sunset Foods] for many years are nattily dressed in stylish suits with bright colored shirts and complementary ties,” says Bacon about the special connection she has with Sunset Foods, and the edge it has. “The staff [always offers to] bring your groceries to the car.”

That old-timey and neighborhood-like feel within each store inspired Bacon to create a mural unlike other artworks she’d rendered before. The work of art symbolizes how much Sunset Foods means to the artist, and to the greater community the stores service.

“Painting this mural [in Lake Forest] felt like being embraced,” says Bacon, who has been painting murals since winning a competition in painting a Queens grocery store back in the ‘80s. “When I explained that the message was for Sunset Foods to say ‘thank you,’ people thanked me for bringing in color.”

Inspiration for elements in the mural came from every food angle. The painting’s main elements separate vertically into three tiers, with a banner-like “Thank you, Sunset Foods” message toward the top, a scenery snapshot in the middle and an array of vegetables at the bottom; these elements are flanked on both sides by many foods from seafood to salad to macarons. The mural came together through a combination of house paints (for the background) and Golden acrylics (a professional acrylic).

“I have been waiting to paint this my whole life,” says Bacon about the opportunity of a lifetime, and how the creative process drew inspiration from store employees and customers alike.

When looking closely at the mural’s design elements, the seafood depiction mirrors how fish is flown in fresh; the wine sommelier makes superb suggestions, and how the flower shop provides a lovely ambiance, according to Bacon. But rather than taking full credit for creating this mural, Bacon insists others played integral roles as well.

“The idea for this mural came from Chris Puszynski, a longtime customer of the store and a student of mine from my drawing/painting class I teach at Deerpath Art League,” says Bacon of the process that started in October 2017 but only began materializing later on in warmer weather conditions. “[Puszynski] imagined a mural on the wall and approached John Cortesi. We went through seven to eight ideas for the style of the mural.”

Like any skilled artist, Bacon created multiple sketches well before executing the finishing stages.

“My original sketches were more traditional, showing the story of the grocery store [founded in 1937] centered on the [vintage] car along a road that showed local farms and history,” says the Maryland Institute College of Art alumnus of her preliminary painting stages. “We worked collaboratively with the staff, [who] encouraged me to come up with a style that felt more modern.”

After reviewing chalkboard murals near restaurants throughout the Chicagoland area, Bacon settled on a style.

“I would say [this] is bold, fresh and inspired by a ‘woodblock’ look,” says the fine art painter and muralist. “We tried to combine some of the store’s history with images of food and symbols of the store’s philosophy [of valuing locally-sourced product and providing quality customer service, too].”

Canvases vary for Bacon – she’s painted inside of the Lake Bluff train station, in schools, on a lighthouse near the John Hancock building, and so on. As president of “Artist on the Bluff,” Bacon also serves as a “Working Artist” for Golden paint (specializing in acrylic paints) and enjoys teaching the craft of painting throughout the Midwest. You might even find Bacon teaching a workshop or two at a Sunset Foods store near you in the near future.

 

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