7 Reasons You Should Go to the Farm to Table Conference This Weekend

The best reason of all: We’re giving away free tickets!


Every year, one of the signs that spring has finally arrived is the annual Farm to Table Conference. How lucky are we to have an opportunity to commune with the people who are spearheading Pittsburgh’s amazing food movement?

The growth in conference attendance is a reflection of our region’s growing real food movement. What started eight years ago with 300 attendees has grown to a much-anticipated event that attracts nearly 4,000 attendees. Each year, we have the opportunity to hear food-movement leaders inspire us with new ideas — plus we get to see and taste many amazing products.

Undoubtedly, it is the place to be if you are interested in learning more and being part of the local food movement.

For the last three years, I have been holding a cooking demonstration and lecture on how to heal with food. This time, I’m mixing it up a little bit by sharing the stage with Michael Fracasso, a musician who wrote the cookbook “Artist in the Kitchen.”

On Friday at 1:30 p.m., I will be talking with Fracasso about growing up in a family that foraged, kept a garden and cooked together — plus how food shaped his family’s life. We will cover how this influenced him and inspired a lifelong love of food, which he shares in his cookbook. Maybe if we’re lucky we’ll even get to taste one of my favorite recipes from the book — a simple yet delicious cauliflower pasta!

But that’s only ONE reason to attend the Farm to Table Conference this weekend. The conference lineup is deep, so I want to share my TOP 7 NOT-TO-MISS SPEAKERS. Your brain will be so high on new information and inspiration that you just may start your own food movement.

Here is The Brazen Kitchen Guide to The Farm to Table Conference:


Friday, March 21


11:30 a.m.
Judy Wicks – Keynote

In 2001, the local food movement barely was receiving ink in food magazines, much less mainstream media. But to Judy Wicks, who founded Philadelphia's landmark White Dog Café, it was a subject that merited attention. She started the International Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. BALLE, which now includes some 30,000 local independent businesses in the United States and Canada, envisions an economy that provides for the needs of all people while working in harmony with natural systems.

Wicks also has written a new book, “Good Morning Beautiful Business” — a “memoir about the evolution of an entrepreneur who would not only change her neighborhood, but would also change her world, helping communities far and wide create local living economies that value people, nature and place more than money.”

Just reading that inspires me and fills me with all kinds of good feelings. If there is one reason to attend this conference, this is it.

But there are MORE!


12:30 p.m.
Heather Cramer, Olive & Marlowe
Truth in Olive Oil

Bad news: Most of the olive oil out on the market is FAKE. I bet you use olive oil all the time, so this is your opportunity to educate yourself on how to tell if that bottle is the real deal.


1:30 p.m.
Leah Lizarondo and Michael Fracasso
Artist in the Kitchen

Join musician Michael Fracasso and me as we talk about food, make some yummy dishes and sing (him not me . . . or who knows — I MAY take the mic). His new memoir and recipe book, “Artist In the Kitchen,” revolves around food.


2:30 p.m.
Kelsey Weisgerber and Slow Food Pittsburgh
School Gardening 101

Children learn about nutrition, the most fundamental of concepts in early childhood and elementary education. Yet it is lost in all the processed-food advertising kids see on TV. School gardens are one of the best ways to teach children about food. Help your child’s school lay a foundation that will affect their health and well-being as they grow.


3:30 p.m.
Meredith Grelli, Wigle Whiskey
Behind the Label: Where Whiskey Comes From

Sick of Johnny, Jack and Jim? Meredith Grelli will share some secrets of the whiskey industry — it’s an education in mass production that’ll surprise you and show why craft distilling is on the upswing (hint: our taste buds are craving creativity!).


Saturday, March 22


10:30 a.m.
Majestic Lane, Juice Up 412
Farm to Table, Food Deserts & Social Entrepreneurship

Anything that has food deserts and social entrepreneurship in the title means food access to me. This is important because good food should not be a privilege; it should be a right.


11:30 a.m.
Rusty Orner, Quiet Creek Herb Farm & School of Country Living
Shiitake Mushrooms: The How & The Why

I love shiitake mushrooms. Why? Because they are delicious, and they are very good for you. Studies have shown that they may help to prevent cardiovascular disease; also, they are a great source of iron and an extremely sustainable food that can be “farmed” in the forest.

P.S. Don’t forget the Local Food Tasting on Friday night, where you can nosh on local food and swill local wine!


NOW for the fun part — FREE TICKETS!


UPDATE: Annnnnd we have a winner. Thanks for playing!

Categories: Brazen Kitchen