Anthony Todd of the Chicagoist wrote in a recent review, "If you’re a food lover and you weren’t at Family Farmed Expo on Saturday, you’d better have a darn good excuse." For a group of thirty young soccer players and their families from Sherman School of Excellence, they don’t need an excuse – they were there.
Urban Initiatives sponsored the field trip to the Family Farmed Expo’s annual Good Food Festival held at the UIC Forum. An impressive turnout of soccer players and their families was an early indicator that the field trip was going to be a great success. The Good Food Festival showcased celebrity chefs, local farmers, and health-focused organizations and included an interactive Kids Corner, lively cooking demos and lots of tasty samples.
As the group meandered through the bustling vendor section they were able to sample a wide variety of healthy, local, and sustainably produced foods. The kids used an array of adjectives to describe their taste-bud adventure:
- "It’s so creamy!" (to describe organic low fat milk from Wisconsin)
- "Crisp and sweet!" (for an organic Michigan apple)
- "Mmm, it’s very juicy – not like at McDonald’s." (for grass-fed, free-range beef)
- and a rare “YUCK!” (reserved for the drink made from 100% grass)
"I learned to not be scared to try new foods, even if it looks gross,” said Keivonta, a 5th grader on the soccer team.
Our families got more than just yummy samples though – they were able to ask questions and get in-depth answers, as well as healthy recipes, from the friendly vendors and farmers in attendance. At one station in the Kids Corner, while the soccer players dug through soil to find hidden worms, they were told about the critical role that their slimy friends play in the process of composting. The kids were amazed that many items we consider "garbage" can be composted and transformed into rich soil, ideal for growing fruits and vegetables in.
Perhaps best of all, as Anthony Todd points out in his article, "the Expo had a great sense of community and purpose – a gathering of people who care about great food, local farmers and protecting the environment."
That the Sherman soccer family felt this sense of community and purpose was clear as the group loaded back onto the bus, bellies full and minds expanded, and both kids and adults alike expressed what a great time they had. On the bus ride home, one question in particular kept coming up: "Can we do this again next year?”