Friday Policy and Trade
Good Food Is…
Room F: Good Marketing | Room I: Good Business
Conventional agriculture can have a devastating impact on the environment. Regenerative agriculture —one of our era’s most crucial issues— has enormous potential to heal the planet. This panel features organizations that are promoting regenerative ag as a way to grow food and restore farm health, resilience and biodiversity, protect water and wildlife, and create vibrant opportunities for communities.
It took decades for farm interests to persuade lawmakers to liberate hemp from anti-cannabis laws resulting from a war on drugs. But in 2018, Illinois became the 38th state to legalize industrial hemp, and the federal government (in the new farm bill) legalized commercial product of hemp products (including CBD oil, for which consumer demand is soaring). So the spacious skies are the limit for Illinois farmers — such as those on this panel — who are on the verge of planting the historic first hemp crop in Illinois since the 1940’s. Learn about opportunities to launch a new cash crop, navigate production, and prepare for the challenges ahead.
Beyond Amber Waves: Growing Demand for Better Grain
Demand for better grain and flour among bakers, distillers, brewers, other food processors, and consumers is on the rise. Farmers either are already transitioning to sustainable and regenerative practices, or are seriously considering making the transition. This panel features leading users and advocates of Good Grain talking about the opportunities and challenges in this fast-rising sector.
The Road to Safe and Reliable Food Sources
Experts provide an overview of processes food businesses should follow to ensure a safe local food supply for foodservice locations. This panel will stress proper food handling and the importance of traceability to pinpoint the source of foodborne illness threats.
Many of our best restaurants and chefs have built their reputations on a devotion to sourcing ingredients from local and sustainable farms. But these local-sourcing leaders can be disadvantaged when competitors claiming to be farm-to-table cut corners. This panel will explore how restaurants and farmers can develop or strengthen their relationships, work together to design seasonal menus, tell the story of why eating local, carefully grown food is better — and ensure diners that they are keeping farm-to-table real.
City in a Garden: Chicago and Urban Farming
In many ways, Chicago lives up to its motto urbs in horto — city in a garden. Our hometown is ranked as one of the best cities for urban agriculture. A number of thriving farms have risen in Chicago, many of them in underserved communities on the south and west sides. But the high cost of land access and environmental factors have thwarted some of potentially promising growers. This panel features leaders who are working to help urban farmers overcome obstacles.
Patience is Virtue in Organic Conversion
Conversion to organic farming from conventional practices can provide farmers with growth opportunities and greater financial viability, as consumer and market demand for organic food increases. But making the switch is a long-term process requiring planning, three years of soil remediation, and agility in finding markets for transitional organic products. This panel of agronomic experts shares best practices.
Mind Your Ps: The 4 Ps of Wasted Food Solutions
The Wasted Food Solutions Group is made up of leaders in the composting and food recovery space, municipality representatives and large-scale food waste generators. The Group has worked in Illinois for two years to find innovative solutions to support waste reduction and redistribution of Good Food that would otherwise be discarded. This panel will highlight findings and outcomes of their work thus far and teach the audience how to “be the change” of reducing waste in their own business/farm/organization/community.
Food entrepreneurs, especially those with products not yet familiar to consumers, will tell you that on-site sampling is a great way to win new customers AND get immediate feedback. This panel will discuss the effectiveness of in-store demos, plus new and innovative ideas for retailers that incorporate in-store sampling.
Shelf Space and How to Get It
You are a food entrepreneur who thinks your product will wow consumers. The problem is that every other food entrepreneur thinks the same thing about their product. Knowing how food merchandisers think — and the kind of products they believe consumers are seeking — is crucial to getting placement on grocery store shelves. Experts from leading supermarkets and distributors will provide tips on how to finesse the product placement pickle.
Go to Market Like a Pro
The classic marketing mix of the 4 Ps (Product, Place, Price, Promotion) is outdated. The Movitz Group Model of Brand Prosperity is based on seven critical roots: Purpose, Positioning, Pathway, People, Production, Promotion, and Pricing. Each plays an interdependent role, and the system is incomplete without all of them healthy and harmoniously working together. The presentation will provide an overview of each of these seven critical areas, outlining the resources, planning and success factors of each.
Attracting E-Commerce Customers
E-Commerce allows early-stage food businesses to go to market quickly at a relatively low cost — making it one of the leading ways new food brands enter the market. But how exactly do you get started, and what are the best approaches for capturing your first E-Commerce customers? This presentation will answer common E-Commerce questions related to selling from your own website and gaining placement on a megasite such as Amazon, as well as provide direction on marketing your products and gaining your first (and repeat!) customers.
The Chicago Good Food sector is booming, in part because there have never been so many opportunities for early-stage entrepreneurs to gain professional support, instruction, guidance and mentorship. This panel’s experts represent an array of business accelerators, non-profit and corporate incubators, and shared kitchens that are helping young businesses gain traction in today’s competitive Good Food marketplace.
Women Leaders in Food
In recent years, women have gained ground, success and influence in the world of Good Food entrepreneurship. Many of the hottest nationally distributed CPG food companies are woman-owned or woman-led. Women have made up about half of the participants in FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Accelerator. This panel features successful women entrepreneurs who share their stories on the path to the top of the Good Food chain.
Raising Capital for Your Good Food Business
Nearly all early-stage Good Food entrepreneurs need to attract significant sums of capital to launch, grow, and sustain successful businesses. A Good Food sector-specific investor community has grown exponentially over the past decade, giving startup businesses increasing opportunities to secure funding. Investment leaders on this panel provide guidance on the tough choice between equity financing or loans, plus give invaluable insight on how to prove your business is worth the investment.
There’s Money to be Had: Funding Sources for Farmers and Food Businesses
There are a number of public programs that provide federal, state and sometimes local government assistance to farmers. They are also private sector programs, largely run by nonprofits, that provide loans and/or grants to farmers who qualify. The crucial part about maximizing the effectiveness of these efforts is to make sure the farmers who can benefit are aware that these programs exist. This panel will detail key programs and help get the word out.
Illinois has a new governor in Democrat J.B. Pritzker, working with an overwhelmingly Democrat-dominated legislature. This panel of Illinois policy experts will present opportunities to support and engage with legislators’ efforts to expanding Good Food supply and demand across the state.
Dishing on the Farm Bill: How Food Policies Affect Your Plate
Every bite of food that ends up on your plate is affected by a decision made in the federal Farm Bill: what we grow, who farms, who has access to food, how we protect drinking water, how we deal with our natural resources, and more. After a long delay caused by efforts in the U.S. House to roll back programs benefiting local and sustainable farmers (and reduce food assistance under the SNAP program), a new Farm Bill — viewed as much more favorable by Good Food advocates — was approved in December 2018 by a lame-duck Congress and signed into law. Policy experts will break down what the complex farm bill means for producers and consumers.
The Plate of the State: Getting Food on the 2020 Political Agenda
Consumers concerned about where their food comes from and how it is produced have driven the fast rise of the Good Food movement over the past couple of decades. Most of these consumers are eligible voters. Yet our national political campaigns have remained mostly about the need to build a better food system. National organizations such as the HEAL Food Alliance (HEAL stands for Health, Environment, Agriculture, Labor) are working to change that for the 2020 campaign — and a new coalition in Illinois is creating a Food Equity Policy platform using the 10-plank Platform for Real Food as a blueprint. In this workshop, you will learn about the platform and how the coalition is working to ensure that food equity is on the political agenda.
FamilyFarmed’s vision of Good Food on Every Table symbolizes a commitment to ensure that the benefits of Good Food are available to all people. That is not yet the case, as many underserved communities, including those on Chicago’s South Side, have disproportionately low access to Good Food. This panel’s experts will touch on their experiences working for food access throughout the city, primarily in Englewood. They will talk about successes and failures, as well as best practices for coalition building in low-access areas.
How Food Inequity is Affecting Our Children
Inequitable access to healthy, fresh, locally grown, affordable foods is affecting the overall health of many Chicago communities, as evidenced by increasing rates of obesity, diabetes and malnourishment. These problems are accentuated among the young. The panelists will provide case studies, health statistics and their experience in treating children in Chicago and surrounding areas, and will touch on programs throughout the city addressing these issues.
Chicago Good Food Purchasing Policy Update
In 2017, the City of Chicago enacted a landmark law creating a Good Food Purchasing Policy for Chicago Public Schools and city agencies. The policy encompasses a schedule for city departments to procure significant percentages of their food purchases from producers in the Chicago region. This panel’s experts are closely involved in designing and implementing the policy, and will provide an update on the policy and the opportunities it afford local farm and food producers.