Mar 17, 2010
We — or, rather, Irv and Shelly — spent a long, hectic three days at last weekend’s FamilyFarmed Expo. Now they’ve gotten some sleep and are back to tell the tale.
Held at the UIC Forum, the Expo was hosted by FamilyFarmed. org, an organization that shares the Fresh Picks’ mission of connecting local farmers to local markets. Every time I passed by the FP booth in the expo’s exhibit hall, Shelly seemed to being doing just that. It was exciting, she said later, to get to talk to so many of our customers in person — and to meet potential new ones to boot. There’s such high interest in buying locally, she observed, but often people don’t know where to start, or don’t realize how many choices they have — even some of our existing customers didn’t know, for example, that they can customize a Fresh Picks box to suit their tastes, needs, and politics. Don’t like mushrooms? No problem! Don’t want avocados in winter? Gone. Eat a lot of eggs? Add ‘em on to your standing order.
As Shelly was explaining to the curious just how Fresh Picks works, Irv was busy over on the conference side of things, speaking on *three* different panels. He wasn’t even scheduled to participate in the “Local and Organic Eating on a Dime” panel, but the moderator pressed him into service when another panelist was a no-show. There, he stressed the importance of menu planning, explaining how you can get maximum value out of your Fresh Picks box with just a little smart culinary strategizing.
Later, Irv shared a panel on “Eating Farm to Table” with Harry Carr, who runs Mint Creek Farm in downstate Stelle, and urban farmer Blayne Grenier, from the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest program. Irv’s sort of the bridge between these two guys — helping farmers like Harry gain access to urban markets and providing a resource for city dwellers who can’t get to a farmers market or don’t have the space or time to grow their own produce.
Moderated by the Land Connection‘s Terra Brockman, their good, productive discussion touched on the nutritional and environmental benefits of eating locally and sustainably grown foods, as well as the ways supporting local farmers and other producers benefits our struggling rural communities, by keeping money circulating in the local economy. But the best part for him, says Irv, came during the Q&A part of the conversation when, if you looked out the window, you could see a jaunty Fresh Picks van cruising up Halsted Street, right on cue.