by Bob Benenson, FamilyFarmed
[UPDATE: Arran Stephens, founder and co-CEO of the Nature’s Path organic cereal products company, will participate in the Good Food Trade Show opening symposium and will accept FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business of the Year Award on behalf of Nature’s Path.]
FamilyFarmed’s 14th annual Good Food EXPO is coming up March 23-24 at Chicago’s UIC Forum. Make your plans now to attend the nation’s oldest trade and consumer event focused specifically on local and sustainable food.
Tickets are on sale for the Friday, March 23 programming: The Good Food Trade Show: Production, Policy and Industry Exchange. These affordable tickets can be purchased on this linked page. The Good Food Festival, FamilyFarmed’s big annual public celebration of the fast-rising Good Food movement, will follow on Saturday, March 24.
The centerpiece of the Friday program is the Good Food Marketplace, a trade show floor where nearly 100 food and farm vendors will present and sell their products. This show provides a great opportunity for trade buyers, sellers, retailers, producers, restaurateurs and investors to meet and engage with many of the Midwest’s best Good Food producers, all in an uncrowded and unhurried environment.
The adjoining main hall and conference rooms around the UIC Forum will provide outstanding, informative panels and presentations on the key issues in the multi-faceted effort to build a better food system in the United States.
- A panel on the new Chicago Good Food Purchasing Program, featuring participants who played key roles in persuading city officials to enact the law.
- An opening symposium on regenerative agriculture, practices going beyond organic in building soil health to promote sustainability, biodiversity and carbon sequestration that reduces global warming. The program will focus on how regenerative agriculture is defined and its impact on how consumer packaged goods companies source and make their products. Moderated by Theresa Marquez, Organic Valley’s Mission Ambassador, the panel includes soil expert and author David Montgomery; Matthew Dillon, Senior Director of Agriculture Policy and Programs at Clif Bar; and Arran Stephens, founder and co-CEO for Nature’s Path, a leading producer of cereals and other packaged goods from organic and heritage grains.
- FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business of the Year Award, which Arran Stephens will accept on behalf of Nature’s Path.
- Good Food Impact Talks, which will provide engaging short presentations on key food systems issues. The lineup of participants will be announced soon!
- The Beginning Farmer of the Year Award ceremony featuring Routes to Farm, a collaboration of farmer alliances in the Chicago region (FamilyFarmed is a member of Routes to Farm).
- Trade panels on key current issues such as Understanding Third-Party Certifications; Food: Too Good To Waste; Building a Grain Value Chain; Transitioning to Organic; New Funding Sources for Farmers and Food Businesses; Getting Your Product on the Shelf; Food Business Incubators & Shared Kitchens; The New Good Food Entrepreneur; Social Media Marketing and Online Sales; and Good Meat.
There is a Food Policy track that is a conference within a conference. Topics include Agriculture’s Role in Water Pollution; Food, Agriculture & Climate Change; Local Food is Good Policy; The Federal Farm Bill; Food Justice, featuring a discussion of the Real Food Challenge; and Soil Health.
And in a first-time addition to the Good Food EXPO lineup, FamilyFarmed is bringing its nationally renowned farmer training workshops to the UIC Forum. This segment begins on Thursday, March 22 with a pre-conference training focused on food safety and the impact of the new federal Food Safety Modernization Act regulations on farmers. On Friday, March 23, a training workshop coinciding with the first day of the EXPO will focus on FamilyFarmed’s Wholesale Success manual, the core of a program that has trained nearly 14,000 farmers in 43 states.
To learn more about the farmer training workshops and for free registration to participate, please visit the farmer training page on the EXPO website.
The first day of the EXPO will be capped by an Industry Networking & Meet the Buyers Reception, also at UIC Forum, which will feature great craft beverages and treats from local producers.
The Saturday Good Food Festival will be a family-friendly event with great programming that includes the Chefs At Play demo stage, a Good Food Is Good Medicine track, the DIY-oriented Organic Valley Good Food Commons, and more than 150 exhibitor-vendors in the Good Food Marketplace. Stay tuned for more information about the Saturday program — and the big reveal of our 2018 Good Food Chef of the Year!
Admission to the Festival is free, though there is a ticket charge for a fermentation-focused Master Class on homemade vinegars. The master class will be led by Michael Harlan Turkell — author of Acid Trip: Travels in the World of Vinegar — with Abe Conlon and Adrienne Lo, co-owners of the popular Fat Rice restaurant in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood.
And please save the date of Thursday, June 19 for FamilyFarmed’s annual Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference, which will be held at the Morgan Manufacturing event space in Chicago’s West Loop. Formerly the first day of a three-day Good Food EXPO in each March, the Financing & Innovation Conference has taken on such a life of its own — generating millions of dollars in equity and debt financing deals by participating businesses — that it is being broken off as a stand-alone event.
Key EXPO Weblinks
Programming Schedule (coming soon!)