A couple Fridays ago I had the privilege of attending the first day of the Good Food Expo hosted by FamilyFarmed in Chicago, Illinois. This event was an opportunity for me to learn more about the Good Food movement and meet a few of the many people working to build a better food system.
The day started with an opening symposium that highlighted a number of entrepreneurs, farmers, and Good Food advocates. I was really drawn to a speech given by Mitchell Davis from the James Beard Foundation discussing the ways that sourcing locally is slowly slipping as a culinary priority. I feel that similar conversations present at The Land Connection on a regular basis and the concern is certainly something we are actively working to prevent in our own community. It was enlightening to hear Mr. Davis’s ideas on ways to re-energize the farm to table movement.
From the opening symposium I headed to a panel discussion on regenerative agriculture featuring Mallory Krieger, The Land Connection’s Farmer Training Manager, alongside Harold Wilken (owner of Janie’s Farm and The Mill at Janie’s Farm) and John Steven Bianucci (Director of Impact at Iroquois Valley Farms). There were many good thoughts shared from each of the panelists at this presentation, but I must brag on Mallory and a few key points she made to attendees. The audience was very interested in how regenerative agriculture could be more successful than similar movements. Mallory pointed out that regenerative agriculture is much more accessible to producers because it can be implemented on a farming operation in a variety of ways. She also very clearly conveyed that our commitment as consumers is what will make the difference with this movement. More specifically, the decisions we make when purchasing food will be the driving forces behind growing the interest of producers in adopting regenerative agriculture practices.
After the regenerative agriculture panel, I was able to attend a panel on the farm bill and how food policies affect every bite of food that ends up on our plate. Led by Liz Moran Stelk of Illinois Stewardship Alliance, the panel had many pieces of information on the history of the farm bill, our current farm bill, what is being discussed with the 2020 budget released by the President, and so much more. One of the big takeaways for me from this panel is the need for all Good Food advocates to understand that the passing of the Farm Bill should not necessitate an end to work towards building a better food system. The many entities involved in policymaking do not stop working after a bill is passed and so it is our responsibility to continue fighting for the changes we seek to see. There were many suggestions provided on how you can be a part of the conversation. I think the easiest way for people to stay in touch is by connecting to organizations like Illinois Stewardship Alliance and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. I follow newsletters from both organizations and they are quite informative when it comes to state and federal policies.
Overall, the Good Food Expo brought to light some very important information on the Good Food movement. If you have an interest in food and health, I think you would certainly enjoy attending. Follow FamilyFarmed to stay up-to-date on the 2020 Good Food Expo!