Local food movement grows at FamilyFarmed Expo

March 16, 2011 9:45:10 AM PDT
Learn how to pickle, raise bees or just mingle with local tastemakers and artisans at the three-day FamilyFarmed Expo at UIC.

The event focuses on Midwestern food culture and runs Thursday through Saturday.

FamilyFarmed Expo has dozens of interesting panels and exhibitors for those who are interested in the local food movement. It includes people who grow, cultivate and harvest food mostly within a 100-mile radius of the city. Seminars offer tips on how to be a conscious carnivore or deciphering food labels.

Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, who will talk about raising chickens in the city and creating national pilots in school lunch programs, is the founder and executive director of Academy for Global Citizenship, a unique Chicago Public School in the Archer Heights neighborhood near Midway Airport.

"Our mission is focused on environmental sustainability, positive nutrition and international mindedness," said Ippel.

The Kindergarten-through-third grade kids here get healthy, mostly organic lunches. They tend to eat their veggies because they're intimately involved in raising them.

"We really believe that it takes a comprehensive approach in order to support our students in making positive nutrition choices. And so for us that means not only serving wonderful food in the cafeteria with healthy choices but also providing nutrition education not only for our students but for our families," Ippel said.

Early education is key, says Ippel. These kids have already been exposed to solar panels, composting and egg harvesting from their urban chickens. The fact that farmers play as much a role as any textbook means these children are much more conscious of where their food comes from than many adults are.

"Engaging our farmers, whether that's a field trip to a local farm or having farmers come in and participate in the curriculum, it's growing food in our schoolyard garden so we really make this connection with what it takes to grow food that ends up in our plates in the cafeteria," said Ippel.

FamilyFarmed Expo
March 17 - 19
UIC Forum
FamilyFarmed Expo Info, familyfarmedexpo.com/festival/festivaloverview.html
FamilyFarmed Expo Workshops, familyfarmedexpo.com/festival/workshopschedule.html

Academy for Global Citizenship
4647 W. 47th St.