We often highlight the potential for Good Food businesses to revitalize economically challenged communities and improve the lives of those who live there. Few businesses combine both of those elements in one person as much as Chicago’s Westside Bee Boyz. Founder Thad Smith’s beekeeping and honey company is still quite small, but he has big dreams for the company. He views it as a platform for community and young entrepreneur development in North Lawndale and other troubled communities in Chicago.
FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference, coming up on Thursday, is Chicago’s must-attend event of the year for investors, retailers, wholesalers, distributors and others who want a heads up about the region’s most promising Good Food businesses and products. And the centerpieces of this world-class networking event are the business pitch event and the Financing Fair.
The Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference this Thursday (March 16) kicks off FamilyFarmed’s 13th Good Food Festival & Conference — the nation’s longest-running annual event focused on locally and sustainably produced food. Here are our five top reasons to attend
The demand for better grains, flour and bread is fueling a market surge that is benefiting grain growers in the Midwest and across the United States. Some of these producers are more deeply rooted than others — and one of these is Illinois organic grain farmer Brian Severson, whose family has been growing in east-central Illinois for more than 150 years. Brian Severson Farms/Quality Organics will be an exhibitor at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Trade Show on Friday, March 17 and the Good Food Festival on Saturday, March 18.
Donna and Scott Lehrer gave up corporate work for organic farming near Chicago nearly two decades ago. Their Big Rock Organics at Lamb of God Farm not only provides the food products for their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscribers, but also wool for daughter Natasha Lehrer Lewis’ Esther’s Place fiber studio. The farm is a member of Band of Farmers: The Chicagoland CSA Coalition, and will be participating in the CSA Pavilion at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival at Chicago’s UIC Forum on Saturday, March 18.
Kefir is a probiotic fermented dairy drinkthat originated in Russia in the 19th century and only recently has developed a growing consumer market in the United States. The main catalyst for the rising interest in this product is Lifeway Kefir, started in 1986 by Soviet refugee Michael Smolyansky and today run by his children. Julie Smolyansky, the company’s CEO, writes here about the family’s gratitude to the United States; she will participate on a panel about Big Food’s Embrace of Good Food at FamilyFarmed’s Financing & Innovation Conference on March 16.
Chicago’s Pleasant House pubs is best known for its flaky, savory Royal Pies. Owners Art and Chelsea Jackson are Fellows in the current cohort of FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator and will participate in our Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference. Their restaurant, located just a mile away, will be open during the three-day Good Food Festival & Conference.
There are no guarantees for entrepreneurs launching new food ventures. But success can come amazingly fast when a food startup hits the sweet spot — or the sweet and savory spot in the case of Simple Mills, the Chicago-based company that produces a variety of nutrient-dense, grain-free baking mixes and crackers (and will be exhibiting at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Trade Show and Good Food Festival.
“Good Food movement” and “Local Food movement” are virtually synonymous to a lot of people. Yet the rising tide of consumer demand for Good Food is prompting more and more retailers, wholesalers and chefs to think globally while they act locally. This issue will be examined by the “Does Good Food Need to Be Local” panel at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference on March 16.
Lisa Kivirist and John D. Ivanko own a farm bed & breakfast in Wisconsin, produce their own jarred products, and are the authors of several books including Homemade for Sale. They share their tips for product labeling that sells, and will be exhibiting at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival on March 18.
The promise of healthier snack food alone would have made Chicago’s Tea Squares an excellent candidate for FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator. But Tea Squares’ social mission — which includes creating jobs and stimulating economic growth in its challenged South Side community — was a clincher.
FamilyFarmed is officially launching a Growing Young Farmers series on this Good Food on Every Table site. And we are crowd-sourcing for some of the great stories that we know are out there.
The spice mixes and recipes developed by the zen of slow cooking help busy people make easy slow cooker meals that enable them and their families to have delicious dinners waiting for them when they get home. And owners Meg Barnhart and Jane McKay continue their mission to provide employment and cooking lessons for developmentally challenged adults.
Nine competitively selected Fellows are participating in the third year of FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator, and they represent a wide range of exciting entrepreneurial ventures: from unique pies and clean meals to tea-infused energy bites and indigenous wild rice cereal, and from locally sourced juices and sparkling fruit tonics to pickled produce and sippable soups.
There was an air of promise that surrounded Wednesday morning’s grand opening of the Whole Foods Market store in the troubled Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.
FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator GFBA is accepting applications through Sept. 19 for its third cohort of competitively selected Fellows in its intensive six-month program, which will run from November to April.
We at FamilyFarmed are all about encouraging our readers to become farmers market customers — if they are not already — and enjoy the super-healthy, nutritious and delicious products sold by their local and regional growers. That is why we have an annual tradition of welcoming National Farmers Market Week with an article full of tips about how to save money at farmers markets.
Jenny Yang and her Phoenix Tofu company in Chicago are shining examples of how FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator helps food and farm entrepreneurs build their businesses. Yang is launching a major expansion in response to fast-rising demand, which was the subject of a recent profile in the Chicago Tribune. We have republished an article we wrote about her and Phoenix Tofu last year, with a link to the Tribune story.
Rob Levitt has been one of Chicago’s leading butchers for several years, and his store, The Butcher & Larder, has gained an even higher profile since moving from its tiny original shop to the Local Foods retail store that opened last June. Customer service and information is part of the store’s stock in trade — so it was not surprising when the news broke Thursday that fans voted The Butcher & Larder as Best Butcher Shop in Chicago in an online poll.
Sourcing locally is a commitment that is both rewarding and frustrating for a chef. But metro Chicago’s White Oak Gourmet
is committed, even if it means chasing chickens (okay, chicken delivery trucks) around the city. Read Chef Tom Leavitt’s reflections on building relationships with farmers in this contributed column.