Oak Parker Jim Slama is the founder the Good Food Festival & Conference, which ten years ago was the first and only local sustainable food and farm trade show in the U.S. The GFF&C is happening at UIC Forum March 13-15.
The GFF&C provides a platform for educating, connecting and continuing support for those who produce local foods and those who bring them to market. The upcoming festival/conference includes demos by chefs like Paul Virant, Rick Bayless, and Jason Vincent, as well as a number of workshops related to such topics as cooking with "ancient grains" and butchering/curing meat. One workshop features Oak Parker Cheryl Muñoz of the Sugar Beet Co-op on a panel discussion of food co-operatives, as well as the Chicago Reader's Mike Sula talking charcuterie with Michael Ruhlman, and Paul Fehribach of Big Jones explaining how he makes condiments.
Slama is also founder of Family Farmed, which hosts GFF&C and works to build and sustain the supply chain of local food by helping locate financial, technical and economic assistance for family farmers and artisan food producers. Family Farmed connects producers with buyers – all in an effort to develop an enduring, sustainable infrastructure for bringing good food to all of us who like to eat. Over the past decade, these organizations have also worked to:
* Help Chicago Public Schools source local food for their students – thanks to such efforts, CPS students now find Amish chicken on their lunch lines, which is kind of amazing.
* Establish a "network of funders" to invest in good food production and delivery, because without the greenbacks it's sometimes challenging to bring leafy organic greens to your table.
* Make it possible for Whole Foods Market, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Lettuce Entertain You, Mariano's and others to connect with smaller farms and artisan food producers who may lack the expertise and resources to work with such industry giants.
* Develop "food hubs" that serve a couple hundred farmers who distribute their products to markets, restaurants, schools and big distributors like US Foods and SYSCO.
Slama and his organizations have made a huge impact on what we eat in the Midwest and throughout the United States.