Is the Good Food Festival Family Friendly? We’re Not Kidding!

FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival this Saturday caps our three-day, 12th annual Good Food Festival & Conference. The Festival is our big public celebration of the fast-growing Good Food movement, and we say “public,” we mean the youngest among us, too!

The Good Food Festival is one of the most family-friendly food events around. FamilyFarmed’s Jamie McCarthy, in the article below, spells out five of the best reasons to bring your children to the UIC Forum on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday.

And did we mention the Festival is free for kids 12 years old and younger? Tickets for grown-ups can be purchased in advance by clicking here or at the door. To learn more about the Good Food Festival & Conference, click here.

by Jamie McCarthy, FamilyFarmed

Every March, FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival & Conference in Chicago promotes the continued rise of the Good Food movement by bringing together hundreds of Good Food experts, farmers, top chefs, bakers and small business owners.

And children.

Children enjoy fun and educational experiences at FamilyFarmed's Good Food Festival. Children 12 years old and younger get free admission.

Children enjoy fun and educational experiences at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival. Children 12 years old and younger get free admission.

The Good Food Festival — which takes place this Saturday at the UIC Forum on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus — is the great public celebration that caps the annual three-day Good Food Festival & Conference. It also is family friendly to the max (we are FamilyFarmed, after all!). Not only are children welcome, but kids 12 and younger get in for free.

Kids of all ages will enjoy interactive activities in the Purple Asparagus Kids’ Corner, demos from chefs who lead the Pilot Light program in Chicago Public Schools (CPS), mini-DIY workshops on the Organic Valley Good Food Commons, the CPS Student Chef Stage sponsored by Miller Poultry, plus an appearance by the Easter Bunny!

Purple Asparagus Kids’ Corner

The Purple Asparagus Kids’ Corner is open all day for kids to learn, play and eat! Kids and adults alike can participate in activities such as face painting, seed planting with the folks from the Gardeneers organization, a scavenger hunt and a book corner featuring the Purple Asparagus Fruit & Vegetable Book Collection.

Purple Asparagus, a Chicago nonprofit that works to inspire children to develop good eating habits, is the sponsor of the Kids' Corner at FamilyFarmed's Good Food Festival, which takes place Saturday at Chicago's UIC Forum.

Purple Asparagus, a Chicago nonprofit that works to inspire children to develop good eating habits, is the sponsor of the Kids’ Corner at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival, which takes place Saturday at Chicago’s UIC Forum.

What’s new this year? Kids will create fruits and vegetable prints with paint and leafy vegetable crayon rubbings.

The Kids’ Corner is sponsored and staged by Chicago’s Purple Asparagus, a nonprofit organization that, according to its mission statement, “educates, children, families and the community about eating that’s good for the body and the planet. We bring delicious, nutritious hands-on adventures to schools, community organizations and farmers markets throughout Chicagoland.”

The activities at the Purple Asparagus Kids’ Corner are not only fun, but they help raise awareness about the importance of Good Food. Child obesity rates are at epidemic levels and education is a key component in reversing that trend. Researchers have found that nutrition education prompts children to consume two times more veggies during their snack time. If children learn that snack time can be healthy and fun, they are more apt to continue these successful healthy eating habits as they grow up.

Stephen Landfear, Purple Asparagus’ senior development and operations manager, said of the Good Food Festival, “Aside from the opportunity to pursue our mission by exposing children to fun activities that involve fruits and vegetables, we return each year because it’s a great opportunity to interact with like-minded individuals. We meet people who are thrilled to learn about the work we do and many have become long-time volunteers and donors. Being at an event like the Good Food Festival where everyone is on the same page is really a special place to be, and we wouldn’t miss it.​”

Pilot Light Chef Demo

A demonstration of the innovative Pilot Light food education project, an initiative in Chicago Public Schools, will engage children while providing grown‐ups with an opportunity to engage with three top Chicago chefs: Paul Kahan of the One Off Hospitality Group (which includes popular restaurants such as Blackbird, Avec, The Publican, Publican Quality Meats, Nico Osterio, Big Star, and the Violet Hour), as well as Josh Kulp and Christine Cikowski of Honey Butter Fried Chicken and the Sunday Dinner Club.

The chefs participating in Pilot Light create lesson plans that integrate education about food and its role in society into the schools’ overall curriculum. Teachers work with children on these plans throughout the year, and Pilot Light chefs make occasional visits to instruct the students themselves.

Famed Chicago Chef Paul Kahan, a co-founder of the Pilot Light program in Chicago Public Schools, taught a 2nd grade class about immigration and its impact on how we eat and prepared a salad with ingredients from a variety of cultures. Kahan will do a Pilot Light presentation and receive FamilyFarmed's Good Food Chef of the Year Award Saturday at FamilyFarmed's Good Food Festival.

Famed Chicago Chef Paul Kahan, a co-founder of the Pilot Light program in Chicago Public Schools, taught a 2nd grade class on Feb. 29 about immigration and its impact on how we eat and prepared a salad with ingredients from a variety of cultures. Kahan will do a Pilot Light presentation and receive FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Chef of the Year Award Saturday at the Good Food Festival.

The goal of Pilot Light is to empower children to make healthy choices for themselves and their communities. Through fun demos and interactive activities, talented chefs engage with students and help them develop skills, knowledge and positive attitudes about their relationship with food. Pilot Light currently is active in six elementary schools around the city and hopes to expand in the future.

“We are excited to see that our students are building understanding of how their food choices affect their bodies, environment and communities,” said Pilot Light Executive Director  Alexandra DeSorbo-Quinn. “We had such a great time last year [at the Festival] and are excited to see what 2016 brings. We look forward to meeting new people and sharing our mission with so many like-minded individuals.”

Kahan, a founder of Pilot Light and strong believer in sourcing local and sustainable ingredients for his restaurants, also will be honored with FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Chef of the Year Award at the Good Food Festival. He delivered the keynote address at FamilyFarmed’s first Good Food trade show in 2004.

DIY Workshops

Do you have an aspiring baker in the house? If so, they can learn to make bread from scratch with heirloom grains from Ellen King, co-owner and head baker at Hewn bakery in suburban Evanston, and Andrea Hazzard of Hazzard Free Farm, in Pecatonica, Illinois. Hand-mix, hand-shape and get hands-on with local bread!

It is, of course, Easter weekend, and another fun option is the “Coloring Eggs with Natural Dyes” workshop. Kiva Shogren and Hailey Boudreau from Farmers’ Hen House in Kalona, Iowa will lead a DIY workshop highlighting a safe and natural way to dye Easter eggs. Check out the surprising variety of colors that can be created using only veggies, berries and spices. Afterwards, stop by the FamilyFarmed booth to have your picture taken with the Easter Bunny!

Organic Valley Good Food Commons

If you or the little ones have a hands-on interest in growing or making food, the Organic Valley Good Food Commons is a must see. Divided into tracks such as “Make Your Own,” “Preserve It,” “Grow Your Own,” and “Compost It,” opportunities to dig in and learn abound. All tracks are produced by the Festival’s wonderful partners, Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA), Chicagoland Chicken Enthusiasts, Chicagoland Food Co-Op Coalition and Edible Alchemy.

FamilyFarmed's family-friendly Good Food Festival has numerous DIY workshops that children would enjoy, include some taught by young people themselves.

FamilyFarmed’s family-friendly Good Food Festival has numerous DIY workshops that children would enjoy, include some taught by young people themselves.

In the “Grown Your Own” track, learn everything from seed saving to how to make your own miniature self-sustaining greenhouse!

Raising urban livestock of all kinds has become increasingly popular over the years. In the “Raise Your Own” track, experts will help you understand the rewards and challenges of raising animals such as goats, chickens, ducks, quails and even bees!

The “Preserve It” track will help you make your fresh produce go the extra mile. Instructors will teach the basics of fermentation and easy ways to dry and preserve herbs for future use.

“Attending a workshop is a great way to get introduced to a new Urban Ag topic, and to connect with experts in the field to learn helpful tips and tricks,” said Billy Burdett, executive director at Advocates for Urban Agriculture. “Every year there is something new, that’s part of what makes this community so great.”

Organic Valley, the sponsor of this year’s Good Food Commons, is a leading producer of organic dairy, eggs and produce. Based in southwest Wisconsin, Organic Valley will be honored as FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business of the Year at Thursday’s Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference, and CEO George Siemon will be on the panel at that day’s Opening Symposium.

CPS Student Chef Stage

New this year at the Festival is the CPS Student Chef Stage, sponsored by Miller Poultry of Orland, Indiana, which produces Amish-raised poultry. Culinary students representing Prosser Career Academy will provide cooking demos and samples throughout the day. The students take part in the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Culinary Arts Programs offered in Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

So be sure to check out all of the great programming at the 12th Annual Good Food Festival Saturday. Admission to the Purple Asparagus Kids’ Corner, Pilot Light demo, DIY Workshops and Organic Valley Good Food Commons is included in the price of a ticket to enter the Good Food Festival. Buy online and save by clicking here. Children 12 and younger enter free.

Good Food Festival hours: 10 a.m.5 p.m, Saturday, March 26.

Location: UIC Forum, Halsted St. at Roosevelt Rd.

Admission: $10 online ($15 at the door); kids 12 and under are free

 

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