Join Me for the Good Food Festival March 16 at UIC

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By Emily Paster

Are you a devoted farmers' market shopper? Do you look forward to your CSA (community-supported agriculture) delivery each week? Are you interested in eating more local and seasonal foods? Are you concerned about the safety and sustainability of our country's food supply? Or do you just love good food? If you answered yes to any of these questions, and even if you didn't, I hope you will join me at the upcoming Good Food Festival and Conference March 14-16 at the UIC Forum.

Now in its ninth year, the Good Food Festival offers three days of fantastic programming for food businesses, investors, industry leader and consumers who care about good food. Produced by FamilyFarmed.org, the conference addresses both regional and national issues around building local and sustainable food systems and educating people about the Good Food movement.

The first two days of the conference are aimed at entrepreneurs, investors, farmers, trade buyers and others in the food business. However, both Friday night's kick-off party, Localicious, and Saturday's festival are aimed at consumers who love good food and who want to learn about why the food-buying choices they make matter to the health of their families and to the planet.

Friday night's  party, Localicious, is a celebration of the farmers who grow our food and the chefs who make it sing. Sample dishes from local chefs while sipping cocktails and craft beer and enjoying live bluegrass music. (I wonder if anyone will play the spoons?) Chefs from some of my favorite restaurants, like the hot, new, Japanese-inspired Yusho and the best restaurant in my neck of the woods, Autre Monde Cafe, will be showcasing their seasonal, farm-inspired dishes. Gracious and inspiring Chicago Food Swap host, Katherine Duncan of Katherine-Anne Confections will be there handing out her amazing truffles. At $75 a ticket (in advance), Localicious is not cheap, but you would easily spend that much on dinner at any one of the restaurants that will be featured. And this way, you get to sample over 40 different restaurants and producers.

The Good Food Festival, Saturday's event, will be fun and informative for anyone who cares about food — whether you like to grow it, cook it, preserve it or just eat it! There will be over 150 exhibitors — including farmers and artisanal food producers — workshops, speakers and demos from some of Chicago's most famous chefs (Rick Bayless, Carrie Nahabedian, Paul Virant).  The Good Food Festival is intended to be a family event, so kids under 12 are free. There is even a special interactive Kids' Corner hosted by Purple Asparagus. General admission to the Festival is only $10 in advance, $15 at the door, which is very reasonable. (The more in-depth workshops and special events cost more.)

I am very excited to announce that Vanessa Druckman and I will be speaking about how the Chicago Food Swap helps to build community around food as part of the Good Food Commons series, which is included in the regular admission price. We will be doing a short, 20-minute workshop about the Swap, followed by a question-and-answer period, at 12 pm, 2 pm and 4 pm on Saturday March 16. So come out and here more about why the Chicago Food Swap is the greatest thing since (homemade) sliced bread!

To find out more about the Good Food Festival, you can join me for a Twitter chat on Thursday March 7 at 8 pm. We will be using the hash tag #GoodFoodChi and we will be giving away two sets of tickets to the Festival during the chat. My co-hosts are Johanna M. Cook of Momma Cuisine (@MommaCuisine), Toni Snearly (@ItsToni), Deborah Niemann (@DeborahWrites), Cheryl Munoz from the Sugar Beet Co-op (@OpCo_op) and Karen Warner (@BigHeadFarm). It should be a great conversation.

I hope to see many of you at the Good Food Festival on March 16!

Full disclosure time: This post was not sponsored in any way. I will receive free admission to the Good Food Festival as a speaker at the event but I have not been asked to write about it or received any compensation.

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