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.
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.
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.
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.
Imagine a school teaching Chicago children from kindergarten through 12th grade on a seven-acre campus — three of those acres devoted to urban agriculture — designed by famed architect Jeanne Gang’s Studio Gang. Imagine this school incorporating local citizenship, sustainability, Good Food, social justice and other values into its curriculum… serving organic, locally sourced, made-from-scratch food in its cafeteria… and producing more energy than it uses. Then imagine this school is not in an upscale Chicago neighborhood or tony suburb, but rather on the industrial, mostly Hispanic, mostly low-income Southwest Side. That is the vision for the expansion of the Academy for Global Citizenship — for which the charter school’s foundation will raise money at its 5th Annual Chefs Playground on June 9 at the Art Institute of Chicago.
FamilyFarmed is a natural ally for star singer-songwriter Jack Johnson, an environmentalist and supporter of sustainable food. We also are benefitting from the financial generosity of his All At Once Network, which matches donations to dozens of non-profit organizations. But FamilyFarmed learned that Jack Johnson is generous with something extra — his time — when we attended his June 2 concert at Chicago’s Huntington Bank Pavilion to participate in the “Village Green” with other local non-profits.
It is alway a joyous day when FamilyFarmed gets to visit a school garden that gives children the tools to learn how to grow food and other plants. The Kitchen Community nonprofit installed a new garden at Wendell Smith Elementary on Chicago’s far South Side May 30, and the enthusiasm of the children who helped in the planting was infectious. But the trip was even more rewarding, because a $2 million donation to The Kitchen Community from Wells Fargo Bank was announced at a ceremony at the end of the installation
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.
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.
Matthias Merges is a leader in Chicago’s culinary community. Matthias also, from very early on, has been deeply committed to making Chicago and its communities better. So it’s not surprising that Chef Rick Bayless, was eager to have Matthias participate in the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration, a joint fundraiser for his Frontera Farmer Foundation and FamilyFarmed, which will be held at The Art Institute of Chicago on Sunday, April 30.
Tim Magner works to integrate food education with fun through Chicago-based programs such as Nature’s Farm Camp. He reports that the longterm decline in the quality and nutrition in school food is being reversed, in sync with the rise of the Good Food movement. More school gardens, more cooking classes, more efforts by many administrators to find healthier choices for students. In his article below, Tim describes the positive impact that is having for our nation’s schoolchildren and our food system in general.
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.
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.
Nature’s Farm Camp is an overnight camp, on a working farm, that immerses Chicago-area kids in a fantastic food-and-outdoor adventure. Tim Magner, in this contributed article, explains how in a world where kids are bombarded with hyper-processed foods loaded with fat, sugar and salt, Nature’s Farm Camp shows them something different — and better — in a beautiful natural environment that connects them with where food comes from.
FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival this Saturday caps our three-day, 12th annual Good Food Festival & Conference. The Festival is our big public celebration of the fast-growing Good Food movement, and we say “public,” we mean the youngest among us, too! It is a very family-friendly event, and children 12 and younger get in free!
There are few more important avenues for ensuring continued progress toward a better U.S. food system than teaching children about healthy food produced sustainably, humanely and fairly. Pilot Light, a chef-driven nonprofit in Chicago, is one of the most promising and innovative programs addressing this priority. Paul Kahan, a co-founder of Pilot Light and FamilyFarmed’s 2016 Good Food Chef of the Year, discusses the program in this Q-and-A.
Chicago chef Paul Kahan has long been known for the culinary excellence of the successful and high-profile restaurants in the One Off Hospitality Group, currently at eight locations and growing. His kitchen mastery earned him the James Beard Foundation (JBF) Outstanding Chef Award in 2013. He was inducted into JBF’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage Read more about Chicago’s Paul Kahan, FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Chef of the Year: His Culinary Career[…]
FamilyFarmed’s Trade Show & Industry Conference on March 25 — the middle day of its three-day Good Food Festival & Conference — has an exciting new feature: “Recipe for Change: How the Culinary Community is Creating a Sustainable Food System” is a panel moderated by James Beard Foundation Vice President Kris Moon and featuring four of Chicago’s top chefs and Good Food champions. In this contributed column, Moon details the rising tide of chef activism and how the James Beard Foundation has responded with its Chefs Boot Camp for Policy & Change.
The nine Fellows participating in the second cohort of FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator represent a wide range of exciting entrepreneurial ventures — from bakeries to a prepared meal kitchen to an herb farm, from an apple orchard and cidery to packaged Latino food products to a kombucha maker, and more.