The Good Food movement has gained major ground in recent years, driven by fast-rising consumer demand for better and healthier products. One tangible proof of that is in the growing community of investors who are helping Good Food companies start up and grow. One such company is Chicago’s Spiral Sun Ventures, whose tag line is “Investing In Healthy.” Spiral Sun works mainly with small, early-stage companies. The firm also is a friend of FamilyFarmed, and they exhibited at our 2017 Good Food EXPO. More than that, there are Spiral Sun clients who also are FamilyFarmed Good Food Accelerator Fellows or regular exhibitors at our Good Food Expo.
Debbie Wood is the founder and owner of No Denial Foods, which produces sumptuous snack mixes and baked goods from grain-free, low-sugar recipes she created to address her own health issues. Debbie exhibited at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food EXPO in March 2017 and enjoyed record on-site sales. The experience prompted her to join the current fourth cohort of FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Accelerator.
Cultured Love, based in Holland, Michigan, produces healthy, probiotic sauerkrauts in a variety of traditional and innovative flavors. Jodie and Paul Krumpe founded the company in 2014 after family illness led them to deeply research the connections between food and health. They exhibited at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food EXPO in March 2017 and enjoyed record on-site sales, an experience that prompted them to apply and get accepted for the current fourth cohort of FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Accelerator.
Gus Schumacher was a leader in the Good Food movement who died Sept. 24 at age 77. He made his greatest mark as a pioneering innovator in efforts to improve access to healthy local food for lower-income and older Americans — as a public official and as a co-founder of Wholesome Wave, a Connecticut-based non-profit best known for its program to double the dollar amount of healthy food that individuals can purchase using federal food assistance benefits. Wholesome Wave CEO Michel Nischan wrote the remembrance highlighting Gus Schumacher’s contributions that is published here.
“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.
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.
The record attendance at FamilyFarmed’s 2017 Good Food Festival & Conference in Chicago underscored important points about the Good Food movement’s growing momentum. More than 7,500 people attended the 13th Good Food Festival & Conference, held March 16-18 at the UIC Forum on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus.
Dr. Ian Smith is the physician developed the SHRED Diet (and SHRED POP popcorn), is a popular TV personality and author, and is the creator of the 50 Million Pound Challenge. FamilyFarmed is pleased that Dr. Smith will take part in an important panel on Food and Mood Saturday at its Good Food Festival. This panel, which will begin at 10:30 a.m., will be followed at 2 p.m. by Good Food is Good Medicine, another expert panel on the profound connections between food and good health.
The three pillars of the Good Food movement are a healthier, a more environmentally sustainable, and more economically dynamic food system that puts Good Food on Every Table. This year’s Festival will put a special accent on that first pillar — Good Food’s massive contribution to building a society with healthier, happier people and lower health care costs — with panels on Good Food is Good Medicine and Food and Mood.
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.
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.
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.
“Team Leverage,” a collaboration of three major Good Food entities in the Chicago region, faced serious competition from four other strong finalists in the Food to Market Challenge. The team won the $500,000 award because of a strong social purpose — bringing healthy, nutritious, affordable food to more school children and their families — plus a distribution model with strong potential to be expanded in Chicago and replicated elsewhere.
There are few people in the restaurant business who have kept farm to table real better — or longer — than Chicago’s Helen and Mike Cameron. They opened Uncommon Ground in 1991 and ever since have been blazing trails in providing diners with locally and sustainable produced food. Read about their ahead-of-the-curve experiences and their 25th anniversary events in the latest installment of our “Farm to Table: Keeping It Real” series.
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.
The Kitchen was founded in Boulder, Colorado in 2004 and features delicious food with a strong focus on local and sustainable sourcing at its restaurants. And The Kitchen goes beyond the core Good Food principles with its strong social mission, embodied in its school learning gardens program. Johnny Anderes, head chef of the The Kitchen location in Chicago, discussed the restaurant’s Good Food practices.
FamilyFarmed staff gathered on Tuesday to share good food and attempt to answer the question, “How can we help the Good Food community to be more diverse and inclusive?” This exercise, part of The Chicago Community Trust’s annual city-wide On The Table event, is the subject of this article.
Until recently, dried meat jerky was none something most people associated with Good Food. But one sign of the growing influence of the movement is that many products not normally seen as part of a well-balanced diet are being adapted into healthier and more sustainably produced versions — such as Think Jerky, the subject of this article.
There was plenty of food to eat at FamilyFarmed’s March 26 Good Food Festival, which drew thousands of attendees for the annual big public celebration of the fast-growing Good Food movement. But the program at the Festival, which included expert panels, artisan workshops and chef demonstrations, also provided plenty of food for thought. This photo essay provides a flavor of the event.
FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival is this Saturday at the UIC Forum on the campus of University of Illinois at Chicago. With exciting activities for adults and children too, it is hard to boil down the list of things to do. But we think this Top 10 Reasons to Attend the Festival list will be a useful guide.