The Family Farmed Expo was held recently in Chicago at the University of Illinois at Chicago Forum. It is been coined as The Midwest’s Premier Local Food Event and may eventually become the nation’s local food event at the rate it is growing.
The Expo is spread out over three days of carefully crafted events that are designed to connect local family farms and artisan food producers to consumers and trade businesses. We were proud to be a part of this event as an exhibitor, participant and as a speaker.
As an exhibitor we set up with hundreds of local farmers to display for the public what we do, how we do it and why we do it. For many this included offering product for sale much like a giant farmers market. For us it meant offering a sample of our grassfed beef to many who have never tasted it.
We offer the information to explain how our beef differs from conventionally raised beef. We feel that a prime goal in the grassfed message is to provide the consumer with the needed information so they can make an informed decision at the meat counter.
A particular joy this year for Mark and I were to kind of sit back and watch. We have done our share of these mammoth events that leave you dead tired and sore on your feet. This year we took along our college intern, Carrie Leoni, and our now-old-enough-to-participate daughter, Katie Grace.
They did a wonderful job of talking; giving out samples and making sure the crowd went away with the educational brochures. It is of particular satisfaction to see a new generation of raised-on-the-farm kids go out into the consumer public and explain with pride what they do.
As a participant I especially enjoyed networking with other farmers who tackle agriculture in a similar approach as us. These farm families have become friends and we keep up with them through the year. Many times sharing advice along with their successes and challenges. This event had over 1500 in attendance and it was especially exciting to see the enthusiasm of the attendees / consumers seeking out farms and farmers who produce products with pride and care on their family farms.
As a speaker on the panel for “Let Them Eat Grass” I got to share our personal farm story along with why I think grassfed is best. The grassfed message is a passion and it is something I love to tell people about with pictures and by speaking. Contrasting a solar based supply model with grassfed beef produced by sustainable farms to the journey of beef from farm to the table with factory farming I explain the choice.
Sustainable grassfed farms are better for the animals, better for the environment, better for the consumer and better for the family farms. Contrasting the industrial model which may produce cheap food, but at what cost and harm? Harm to the animals placed in CAFO, harm to the environment through heavy dependence on fossil fuel and waste management, and harm to the consumer through the heavy use of antibiotics and hormones.
The Family Farmed Expo was a pivotal event that connected in a direct manner farm and table. If you have opportunity to attend this event or one similar in your area then I highly recommend you do so. To become more conscious of the food you eat and how it is grown influences so much of how we live. Remember you vote for what exists in this world by how you choose to spend your dollars in the supermarket.