All Aspects of Good Food Movement

on Display at Expo

Photos courtesy of Chris Dilts/FamilyFarmed

The Good Food Festival, produced by the nonprofit FamilyFarmed and presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, will take place March 23 at the UIC Dorin Forum on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus. This big annual celebration of the fast-rising Good Food movement features family-friendly fun, demos by leading chefs, informative programming on food and health and much more.

        The Festival is the second day of FamilyFarmed’s 15th anniversary Good Food EXPO. The Midwest’s premier event focused on local and sustainable food begins March 22, with the Good Food Trade Show and Networking Reception.

        Each day’s program includes the traditional centerpiece of the Good Food EXPO: the Good Food Marketplace. The Marketplace provides unparalleled opportunities to meet many of the Midwest’s best farmers and food makers, sample their products and buy some to take home. (FamilyFarmed will even provide reusable shopping bags.) Lunch items and snacks will be for sale at the Good Food Court.

        Because participants will be enjoying Good Food, they will want to know more about its powerful connection to good health and disease prevention. The Festival is extending its series of popular Good Food Is Good Medicine programming to multiple panels and demos. Get a seat early, as this feature typically draws standing-room-only crowds.

        Of course, Good Food is only good if it’s delicious, as well as virtuous. That’s why the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Chefs at Play Stage is one of the most popular parts of the Festival; and the lineup this year is awesome. Headliners include Joe Flamm, of Spiaggia, fresh off his victory last year in Bravo TV’s Top Chef 15 competition; Erling Wu-Bower, a protégé of famed Chicago chef Paul Kahan, who is chef and co-owner of Pacific Standard Time, one of the city’s hottest restaurants; Sandra Holl, of Floriole, an award-winning baker, who will present with the Purple Asparagus food education program (which also is running the Festival’s Kids’ Corner); and chef-owner David Miller, of Baker Miller bakery/restaurant.

        The EXPO’s culinary artistry actually kicks off on the evening of March 22 with the networking reception that follows the Good Food Trade Show. Local farm-to-table legend Jason Hammel, whose ultra-popular Lula Cafe, in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, will receive FamilyFarmed’s 2019 Good Food Chef of the Year Award and conduct a demonstration at the reception, which also enables the good foodies in attendance to mingle, connect and learn more about the business of Good Food. Hammel also is chef-owner of Marisol restaurant, at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

        Although the Friday trade show is a paid event, the tickets are kept affordable so those with a strong interest in building a better food system can attend. FamilyFarmed defines Good Food as delicious, accessible and produced as locally as possible, using sustainable, humane and fair practices. Panels at the Friday Good Food Trade Show underscore that all those qualities start at the farm.

        Friday topics will include regenerative agriculture (sustainable practices that build soil health while capturing carbon to slow climate change), the renaissance in hemp production, converting farmland to organic from conventional production, bringing more farm-to-table sourcing to restaurants, growing better grain and Chicago’s role as an urban agriculture center.

        FamilyFarmed plays a key role in connecting entrepreneurs with buyers, investors, mentors and consumers through programs such as its Good Food Accelerator and Market Development. Panels focused on growing Good Food businesses will discuss women leaders in the Good Food sector, Chicago’s growing community of food business incubators and accelerators, how businesses get grocery shelf space to sell their products and the all-important matter of raising capital.

For trade show and reception tickets, visit The Sat. festival is free, but preregistration is requested at Location: 725 W. Roosevelt Rd., Chicago. For more information and the complete schedule, visit

Bob Benenson is communications manager at FamilyFarmed. For more information, email



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