“Just within the past 10 years, this industry has skyrocketed. Everything around this industry has completely changed. The consumers who shop this industry have changed. It’s no longer just the crunchy hipsters in Boulder.” That is how Anubhav (Anu) Goel described the fast-rising demand for Good Food at the start of his data-driven keynote speech at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Accelerator Application Celebration at 1871 Chicago last week.
FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator (GFA) staged its annual Application Celebration and Networking Event at Chicago’s 1871 business incubator on Tuesday. It included a panel of four GFA graduates moderated by Scott Mandell, a program “supermentor” who founded hugely successful Enjoy Life Foods. And when Scott asked the alums about the biggest change in their businesses fostered by the Accelerator, the response by Mitch Wasserman of Full Belly Foods drew chuckles from the full-house audience.
Farm dinners have become a popular facet of “agritourism,” with farms working with chefs to bring “farm to table” dining back to the source. Dozens are held each year just in the Chicago food region alone. But most of the participating farms are well out in the country, requiring a day trip or an overnight stay. That location is what makes The Talking Farm’s dinner on Sept. 10 distinctive. The farm is just outside Chicago’s city limits and a short Sunday drive for most residents of the metropolitan area.
Ashley Rossi is the founder of OrgaNums, a Chicago-area company that uses a cold-pressed (High Pressure Pasteurized) process to create healthy, nutritious baby food from organic ingredients. Ashley’s business benefited from its participation in the Financing Fair at FamilyFarmed’s 2015 Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference. In this contributed piece, she describes the challenges she has faced getting retail store placement for her brand in this new market segment.
“Farm to table” dining may have become commonplace on Chicago’s restaurant menus. But Chef Paul Virant was in the vanguard of the movement just 13 years when he opened Vie restaurant in the suburb of Western Springs. And he is all about giving back to the community. Within a recent three-day span, Paul did a cooking demo with the Gardeneers audience for schoolchildren in Englewood, then was the honoree for Angelic Organics Learning Center at their annual dinner.
FamilyFarmed invites rising food entrepreneurs to apply for a Fellowship in our Good Food Accelerator (GFA). The application period begins today (Aug. 14), and we will have scheduled a GFA Application Celebration and Networking Event on the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 1871 in the Merchandise Mart.
Those involved in the Good Food movement believe that if we are going to build a better food system, we need to start promoting healthier habits among our youngest eaters. Since 2005, Chicago nonprofit Purple Asparagus has put that belief to action, bringing its engaging food literacy program to children kindergarten to 2nd grade in selected Chicago schools.
Pilot Light is the chef-driven program that helps Chicago Public Schools integrate food and nutrition education into their students’ overall curriculum. And the nonprofit organization is prepping for its biggest expansion yet, adding eight schools to its lineup for a total of 14 around the city of Chicago.
We at FamilyFarmed conduct most of our work to build a better food system from our base in the city of Chicago. So we relish the opportunities to get into the country and visit the farmers who are the heart and soul of the Good Food movement — such as our trip Monday (July 24) to two of our woman-farmer friends in Pecatonica, a farm town 100 miles to the west with a whole lot of progressive thinking about Good Food growing.
So much amazing food and drink. That’s the simplest way to describe the 2017 Green City Market Chef BBQ, the annual fundraiser for Chicago’s premier farmers market, which brought together a world-class lineup of the city’s farm to table restaurants, along with many of the city’s leading craft breweries and distilleries. It might be indulgent if the only purpose of this event was a ginormous outdoor feast. But the money raised by Green City Market at the event goes toward its social mission programs, which include double bucks for shoppers using SNAP/LINK food assistance dollars, a satellite market in the underserved Bronzeville community every Wednesday through the growing season, and a broadening palette of food education programs.
Making the food system healthier has always been a pillar of the Good Food movement and FamilyFarmed. Our organization is developing a program called Good Food Is Good Medicine, which will be bringing ready-to-use information about healthier lives through better diets to community settings, with a heavy emphasis on underserved communities with high rates of diet-related illness.
FamilyFarmed salutes longtime associate Kim Bartko, and wishes her success, as she steps aside to focus on her new business venture: Outbound Lab, which seeks to advance the Good Food movement in the U.S. and around the world by forging partnerships between foreign food innovators and domestic food businesses.
Pilot Light is a nonprofit organization founded by some of Chicago’s top Good Food chefs to bring food education to students in Chicago Public Schools. And even though school’s out for the summer, Pilot Light is doing events around town to spread the word about its important social mission.
Jen Rosenthal is one of the most talented urban farmers in Chicago. Now if she could only find a piece of land of her own to continue and expand her Chicago urban farming career.
The first thing you notice if you visit a school with a Learning Garden from The Kitchen Community non-profit organization is … joy. The chance to get their instruction outdoors instead of in the classroom — learning to put seeds in soil, nurture the plants, and then harvest the food they have grown — is something the children really seem to relish. Yet it may take a few years, at least for the little ones, to realize what serious purposes are behind this fun school time.
We at FamilyFarmed obviously are big advocates of cooking healthy, delicious meals at home (preferably from fresh ingredients produced by local farmers and food processors, of course). But for many busy and overcommitted people today, cooking seems too complicated and time-consuming. To which we suggest this two-word solution: roasted vegetables.
Chelsea Callahan, FamilyFarmed’s Program Assistant, visited Blackberry Farm in the Volunteer State of Tennessee last weekend. This beautiful setting is best known for its world-class hotel and its famed culinary experiences. But the sprawling estate, as the name suggests, is also home to a working farm. And Chelsea found a new hero there, in John Coykendall, master gardener and seed saver.
The FamilyFarmed crew had been talking for a while about taking a Chicago Water Taxi cruise down to lunch in Chinatown, and we finally set a date. What would have been a fun day out in any case became a special occasion when the team was joined by Jenny Yang of Chicago’s Phoenix Bean Tofu — a fast-growing graduate of the first cohort of Fellows in FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Accelerator,
An anniversary is an occasion for celebration. And that is just what Chicago’s Local Foods will be doing this Saturday (June 24) with its Tacos and Tiki Party to mark the 2nd anniversary of its retail store in the city’s Bucktown neighborhood. Anniversaries are also times for reflection, though. As CEO Andrew Lutsey looks back, he views the first two years as successful, but says that it has been a learning experience that has produced some changed expectations and priorities.
As part of its efforts to assist its small business associates, The Hatchery food business incubator held a pop-up market, sponsored by Groupon, at downtown Chicago’s Revival Food Hall on Saturday (June 17). So we dropped by to visit with a bunch of our food-making friends — and to purchase some of their delicious products, of course!