FamilyFarmed’s Annual Giving Campaign is under way, and to highlight the work we do to build a better food system, we are running a series of profiles of great businesses that have participated in our programs. Today we look at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food EXPO and Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference through the eyes of Luke Saunders of Farmer’s Fridge, the Chicago company whose fresh salad vending machines are changing the way eaters view self-service food options.
Everyone eats, and what you eat matters — which is why we at FamilyFarmed are proud of our work growing the availability of Good Food. In the coming weeks, we’ll share stories of the local food and farm entrepreneurs whose mission to produce Good Food has been served by FamilyFarmed, thanks to contributions from Good Foodies like you. We ask for your support so these programs thrive and we can continue to develop new and innovative Good Food initiatives in 2018.
Family Farmed is pleased to announce the lineup of entrepreneurs who will be participating in our 2017-18 Good Food Accelerator program. The fourth cohort since the Accelerator was launched in 2014, these nine exciting early-stage businesses were competitively selected from a pool of excellent applicants.
When you go to a supermarket, everything seems so orderly, stocked neatly on shelves, in bins and in coolers. But behind the scenes, getting food from farm to factory to grocery store fridge — a process known as supply chain management — can be complicated and messy. While some of the bigger food businesses handle supply chain internally, many others, including smaller and start-up businesses turn to the expertise of consultants with years of experience. One of these is Will Madden, co-founder of Chicago-based Whole Brain Consulting. FamilyFarmed interview Will about his business’ origins, why food businesses need contract manufacturers, the biggest supply chain challenges… and why he made the highest bid for a CEO yacht cruise on the Chicago River and Lake Michigan that was a silent auction prize at last April’s Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration.
FamilyFarmed is getting close to announcing the roster of competitively selected Fellows who will participate (from November to April) in the fourth cohort of its Good Food Accelerator. So as a warmup, we’re recalling the nine great business from the third cohort that graduated last spring.
Distill Ventures is the first business accelerator in the distilled spirits industry. FamilyFarmed in 2014 created the Good Food Accelerator, first business accelerator in the United States focused specifically on food produced locally and sustainably. So we were delighted to attend a lecture at the Independent Spirits Expo by Gonzalo De La Pezuela, Distill Ventures’ North America Managing Director, that focused on the entrepreneur’s founder’s story. He made a strong case for how telling the story of how your business came about and what passions drive you help you make the connection with a customer base… or as he frequently described it, your “tribe.”
“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 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.
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.
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.
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!
If the mezcal tasting event hosted Wednesday (June 7) by Rick and Deann Bayless proved anything, it is that their Frontera Farmer Foundation and FamilyFarmed love to party around Good Food and artisan beverages. The party — at the Frontera group’s Cruz Blanca on Restaurant Row in Chicago’s West Loop — was a sequel to the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration, held April 30 at The Art Institute of Chicago. That fundraiser produced (at latest tally) more than $140,000 in proceeds to be split evenly by Family Farmed and Frontera Farmer Foundation, to advance their efforts to help farmers and businesses build a better food system.
We at FamilyFarmed are proud of all of the written content that we have provided on Good Food on Every Table. But people have been asking us, “Why don’t you do videos? People love videos!” So in the spirit of giving the people what they want, we present “Bob Goes To The Farmers Market,” the premiere of our FamilyFarmed At Play video series.
The organizers who produced the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration took a bit of a gamble by preceding the highly anticipated, chef-driven tasting event with a Good Food Forum. Given that most in the audience were anxious to eat, drink and be merry, the hour-long symposium could have be a buzzkill. But the enlightening, engaging and passionate discussion among five Good Food activists and leaders, deftly moderated by Peter Sagal of NPR’s popular program “Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me,” turned out to be a perfect set-up for the food and frivolity that followed.
When you are throwing a big party, the usual measure of success is whether all good time was had by all. By that standard, the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration — marking three decades of Chicago Chef Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill — was a dazzling success. But the event also was a fundraiser for Rick’s Frontera Farmer Foundation and FamilyFarmed… and that also was a success.