Good Food on Every Table!

FamilyFarmed is a non-profit organization committed to expanding the production, marketing and distribution of locally grown and responsibly produced food, in order to enhance the social, economic, and environmental health of our communities.

Good Food EXPO

Do you want to learn more about building a healthier and more environmentally conscious diet for you and your family? Join us in Chicago at the UIC Forum March 23-24 as thousands of attendees discover artisanal goods from more than 150 exhibitors, learn from workshops and chef demos, and explore our family-friendly programming!

Are you in the business of Good Food? The annual Good Food EXPO began in 2004 as a one-day Local Organic Trade Show — the first event of its kind. It has grown over the past 14 years into a nationally significant event that connects industry farm and food produces with trade buyers, wholesalers, retailers, investors and introduces them to consumers. The EXPO plays a key role in growing the vibrant Good Food community in Chicago and throughout the Midwest.

The Good Food Trade Show: Production, Policy and Industry Exchange kicks off our programming on Friday, March 23rd. Purchase your tickets today! The Good Food Festival, FamilyFarmed’s annual public celebration of Good Food, will follow on Saturday, March 24; admission is free but pre-registration is required. Find out more about sponsoring, exhibiting, and volunteering at the EXPO.

The centerpiece of the Friday program is the Good Food Marketplace, a trade show floor where nearly 100 food and farm vendors will present and sell their products. On Friday trade buyers, sellers, retailers, producers, restaurateurs and investors will meet and engage with many of the Midwest’s premier and upcoming Good Food producers. The adjoining main hall and conference rooms around the UIC Forum will provide outstanding, informative panels and presentations on the key issues in the multi-faceted effort to build a better food system in the United States.

Highlights include:

  • A panel on the new Chicago Good Food Purchasing Program, featuring participants who played key roles in persuading city officials to enact the law.
  • An opening symposium on regenerative agriculture, practices going beyond organic in building soil health to promote sustainability, biodiversity and carbon sequestration that reduces global warming. The program will focus on how regenerative agriculture is defined and its impact on how consumer packaged goods companies source and make their products. Moderated by Theresa Marquez, Organic Valley’s Mission Ambassador, the panel includes soil expert and author David Montgomery; Matthew Dillon, Senior Director of Agriculture Policy and Programs at Clif Bar; and Arjan Stephens, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Nature’s Path, a leading producer of cereals and other packaged goods from organic and heritage grains.
  • FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business of the Year Award, which Arjan Stephens will accept on behalf of Nature’s Path.
  • Good Food Impact Talk with Dr. Montgomery, who will discusses the findings from his groundbreaking work, “Growing a Revolution: Bringing our soil back to life.”
  • The Beginning Farmer of the Year Award ceremony featuring Routes to Farm, a collaboration of farmer alliances in the Chicago region (FamilyFarmed is a member of Routes to Farm).
  • Trade panels on key current issues such as Understanding Third-Party Certifications; Food: Too Good to Waste; Building a Grain Value Chain; Transitioning to Organic; New Funding Sources for Farmers and Food Businesses; Getting Your Product on the Shelf; Food Business Incubators & Shared Kitchens; The New Good Food Entrepreneur; Social Media Marketing and Online Sales; and Good Meat.

Our intensive Food Policy track is essentially a conference within a conference. Topics include Agriculture’s Role in Water Pollution; Food, Agriculture & Climate Change; Local Food is Good Policy; The Federal Farm Bill; Food Justice, featuring a discussion of the Real Food Challenge; and Soil Health.

And in a first-time addition to the Good Food EXPO lineup, FamilyFarmed is bringing its nationally renowned farmer training workshops to the UIC Forum. This segment begins on Thursday, March 22 with a pre-conference training focused on food safety and the impact of the new federal Food Safety Modernization Act regulations on farmers. On Friday, March 23, a training workshop coinciding with the first day of the EXPO will focus on FamilyFarmed’s Wholesale Success manual, the core of a program that has trained nearly 14,000 farmers in 43 states.

To learn more about the farmer training workshops and for free registration to participate, please visit the farmer training page on the EXPO website.

The first day of the EXPO will be capped by an Industry Networking & Meet the Buyers Reception, also at UIC Forum, which will feature great craft beverages and treats from local producers.

The Saturday Good Food Festival will be a family-friendly event with great programming that includes the Chefs at Play demo stage, a Good Food Is Good Medicine track, the DIY-oriented Organic Valley Good Food Commons, and more than 150 exhibitor-vendors in the Good Food Marketplace.

Admission to the Festival is free, though there is a ticket charge for a fermentation-focused Master Class on homemade vinegars. The master class will be led by Michael Harlan Turkell, author of Acid Trip: Travels in the World of Vinegar, a fascinating around-the-world travelogue about the signature vinegars, and the food cultures that surround them, in the United States, France, Italy, Austria and Japan. The book is packed with recipes from top chefs that will expand your palette for using vinegars in your home cooking.

This impactful event provides in-depth programming that connects all parts of Good Food movement, providing that helps grow local food procurement capacity; educate the public about the importance and impact of Good Food; engage local school districts; and discuss local, statewide, and national food policy . The increasing impact and importance of our big annual event has been underscored by the growing participation of major officeholders, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, then-U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Cook County (Chicago) Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

With all of these stakeholders networking through our sessions and trade show, unique opportunities arise for growing the Good Food movement. Over the past 14 years, multiple local procurement relationships were begun at our big annual event, new products have been launched, businesses have gained access to financing, and major local food procurement achievements by Midway Airport, McCormick Place, and Chicago Public Schools have been announced. In addition, the entire Good Food community has been inspired by more than 700 leaders who have spoken at the event.

The Good Food EXPO will continue to deliver cutting-edge programming, as well as serve as THE place for farms and food businesses to network with consumers, buyers, and funders. No other event brings together such a wide range of farmers, food entrepreneurs, food policy stakeholders, sustainable agriculture visionaries, and community members all in one place. Join us at the forefront of the Good Food movement, and be an important part of growing the sustainable agriculture community in Chicago and beyond!

We invite you to get involved at the 2018 Good Food EXPO: attend, sponsor, exhibit or volunteer at the Midwest’s premiere destination for Good Foodies!

Interested in custom sponsorship packages? Please contact nicolette@familyfarmed.org for personalized opportunities to get involved.