Local and Organic Food Highlighted at 3rd Annual EXPO
The 2007 FamilyFarmed.org EXPO exceeded all expectations! Attendance was at its height as over 3,000 people showed up to meet family farmers and support the local food movement. Our most diverse show yet featured 120 farmer and other sustainable business exhibitors. Booth space at the historic Chicago Cultural Center in downtown Chicago was completely sold out. CSA farms, urban agriculture groups, grass-fed meats and dairy artisans, an Illinois fiber co-op, natural household cleaning supplies, and Fair Trade foods were just some of the many groups that came together to show their support for local foods and environmentally conscious living.
Friday was a day for people of the trade to come together. Excitement peaked during the Opening Symposium when a panel of nationally recognized speakers addressed the public and media, each in their own unique way showing support for local, organic, Fair Trade, and sustainable food systems. Friday’s EXPO also provided a place for partner organizations to shine. The Association of Family Farms (AFF) released their new seal and standards, while Equal Exchange and the Domestic Fair Trade Project introduced new U.S. Fair Trade products for the first time. The Midwest region of Whole Foods Market revealed its strategic philanthropic partnership with Sustain. As part of a national $10 million low interest loan fund for family farmers and artisanal food producers, Whole Foods Market Midwest Regional President Patrick Bradley announced that they have teamed up with Sustain to promote and help administer the loan program regionally. This partnership with Whole Foods Market is a model public/private partnership to source and promote local and organic food production. Sustain is proud to have been part of these exciting initiatives.
The sold out Localicious party was yet another Friday highlight. Truly a special treat, the party featured 14 of Chicago’s most dedicated chefs and eateries paired with local farmers. It was no small feat to use local product from family farmers in March during the seasonal scarcity of fresh food, but everyone enjoyed all the delicious offerings, such as mushroom crepes, beet carpacio, chestnut soup, and AquaRanch lettuce and pesto salad, among others. The event also featured a good selection of local wine, beer, organic martinis, and frozen mead drinks (which were so popular that they ran out).
Saturday was an exceptional food festival to celebrate. With the wide variety of activities, there was plenty to do. The 12 workshops related to food and agriculture issues were well attended. Particularly popular was the food policy workshop where Illinois Representative Julie Hamos spoke about the Illinois Food, Farm, and Jobs Act, which passed in the House on March 27, 2007. Other fun workshops included edible landscapes, heirloom seed starting, agritourism, and organic eating on a dime. The packed cooking demonstrations featured several Chicago chefs, including three James Beard nominees: Bruce Sherman from North Pond, Gale Gand from TRU, and Rick Bayless from Frontera Grill. Even the movies were a hit. The EXPO was proud to feature the movie premiere of Deep Roots, the story of an Illinois farm that has been passed down through five generations. Additionally families enjoyed the interactive kids corner hosted by Purple Asparagus. When not attending workshops, people were seen enjoying samples and learning about resources for local and organic food in Chicago.
At the EXPO, we released our newly created 2007 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) map for the Chicagoland area. This map features drop-off locations around the city featuring weekly fresh, sustainable produce provided by local and organic family farmers. CSA farms are small enterprises, use organic growing methods, and are committed to fresh, high-quality products, and FamilyFarmed.org is proud to offer this helpful guide which is now available on our website.
We are also pleased that for the first time, the EXPO, sponsored by Community Energy, was wind-powered to offset all of our energy use.
We couldn’t have made it without our dedicated and generous sponsors—thank you! City of Chicago, Goodness Greeness, Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley, Chicago Green Festival, Conscious Choice, Chicago Sustainable Business Alliance, Nature’s Path, LaSalle Bank, Chipotle, Earth Friendly Products, Tallgrass Beef, WCPT 850 AM, and Michael Fields Agricultural Institute.
Download the Show Directory to see list of speakers, exhibitors and events at the EXPO 2007