The Clean Eater's Guide to the Good Food Festival + Giveaway

The Good Food Festival, Saturday, March 26

Now that it's officially Spring, it's time to emerge from your wintry hovel, get back out into the sun and pack away your elephant-shaped humidifier for the season (Oh, is that just me?  The water vapor comes out of his trunk!!)  In the food world, Spring means green, freshness, newness and teeny baby vegetables.  For those local to Chicago, this weekend's Good Food Festival is the food-lovers jumpstart to getting excited about fresh, local food again.

The Good Food Festival is a celebration local, sustainable, humane and fair food.  It's preceded by a two-day industry conference, but on Saturday the conference hall is opened up to the public, and it's filled with mini workshops, chef demos, and food organizations and businesses showing off their project and products.  And of course --the best part--food and drink to sample and purchase.  The Festival is Saturday, March 26, 10am-5pm at UIC Pavilion in Chicago; tickets and info at goodfoodfestivals.com

I worked with the nonprofit that puts this on last year and am excited to attend as a civilian this year!  Skip to the bottom of this post to read about my ticket giveaway and how to enter.

If you are in to healthy eating, have $10 to spare and are looking to branch out and learn something new, here are my recommendations of what to do at the Good Food Festival this weekend:

Find Your Farmer at the CSA Pavilion

Freshly picked local food is often higher in nutrients, tastier and in harmony with the environment around you compared to food that's been shipped across the globe.  At the Good Food Festival, you can find local farmers who offer CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes.  You invest in the farm at the beginning of the season and are then "paid out" each week during the growing season with a box full of fresh, diverse produce (and/or meat, dairy, eggs & artisanal products).  It's a great and fun way to ensure that you are getting colorful local food and it helps support the local farm economy.  

Each farm's program works a little differently so the pavilion even has a CSA "concierge" who can help you pick a farm that meets your delivery and dietary needs.

You guys, there are baby animals there too.  Photo by Kaitlyn McQuaid.

You guys, there are baby animals there too.  Photo by Kaitlyn McQuaid.

Fill Your Pantry with Natural Food Brands

One of the coolest things about the Good Food Festival is the opportunity to discover new natural food products, brands and businesses on the exhibition floor.  There are over 150 exhibitors, many of which are brand new, so you're bound to discover something new in the healthy eating space to get excited about.  Here are a couple of my favorite finds from the Good Food Festival last year:

Photo by Barry Brecheisen.

Photo by Barry Brecheisen.

Learn how to do something new in your kitchen

Sure, it's great to learn more about local, sustainable and nutritious food, but what's the use if you can't actually implement it at home?  This is the core reason I'm so devoted to teaching clean eating cooking classes.  Implementation, people!

There are a couple of great cooking demos throughout the day including my chef friends Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp from Honey Butter Fried Chicken.  Christine and Josh are talented cooks and enormously entertaining.  They'll be using both of those skills to do a cooking demo for Pilot Light, a nonprofit that educates kids on nutritious eating.  Relevant tip: If a child can do it, I bet you can too.

The rest of the day is filled with mini 20 minute walk-up workshops in an area called the Good Food Commons.  Ones that piqued my interest?  Brew Your Own KombuchaTerrariums20 Minutes about Chicago Bees; and something called Herman the Worm.  (How could I not be intrigued?!)  Check out the full schedule here.

Attend the Good Food Festival as My Guest

I'm giving away a pair of free tickets to Saturday's Festival!  To enter, Just add a comment to this blog post, finishing the statement "Good Food is important to me because_______."  

You have until Tuesday, 3/22/16 at midnight CST to enter.  I'll reply to the winning comment and you'll send me your email address.  I'll send you a code so you can redeem your free tickets online before the festival.  The winner gets both of the free tickets.  Forward this blog post to a friend--if he/she wins, I bet you'll snag the 2nd ticket. ;)

Looking forward to seeing you and Herman the Worm at the Good Food Festival on Saturday!  Tweet me at @urbanchickpea if you are there and we can say hi over artisanal chocolate.

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