CHICAGO — This year’s Good Food Festival at the UIC Forum gave eaters a chance to connect with producers and farmers within the local organic food community. The trade show featured more than 150 local farmers, artisan food producers, and vendors from Illinois and the surrounding states.
Here are five tasty finds I stumbled across during the festival.
Chris’s Awesome Guacamole
I’m a huge fan of avocados and Chris Salgado makes a mean guacamole. Nothing beats fresh, natural, homemade guacamole. And according to Salgado, his gluten-free and vegan-friendly guacamole is made with over 25 natural ingredients. His guacamole was a finalist in NYC’s 2013 Guactacular competition and has also been featured on NPR Radio’s The Sporkful. You’ll have to follow them on Facebook or Twitter to see where to find them next or you could order the guacamole directly from them.
This Wisconsin-based company is all about chilli peppers. They put together an innovative collection of chilli pepper products from seasonings to oils to jams and even baking mixes. If you love spicy foods, check out their Harissa Paste. It’s a blend of dried chili peppers, cumin, olive oil, and has lots of kick! They also have milder products too, such as their sweet and mild Chilli Jam. They can often be found in the Green City Market in Chicago.
Organic Matters is a family-owned and operated snack company based in Fairfield, Iowa. The brothers and sister team produces allergen-friendly snacks that are organic, vegan and gluten-free. There’s cookies, brownies, kettlecorn popcorn, and vegan bacon. Yes, Vegan Bacon! The bacon substitute is made with coconut chips, tossed in oil, spices, and hickory smoke flavor. It is then baked to a crunchy finish. A bit sweet and a bit salty. Very tasty. It would go real nicely on top of salads or inside sandwiches or wraps. You can find their products on Amazon.
Life Basics Organics
This Illinois-based beverage company produces a collection of premium organic teas. They focus on brewing ethnic teas like Turkish Tea, English Tea, Mandarin Tea, Indian Tea, Persian Tea, Brazilian Tea, and Thai Tea. The teas are carefully selected from organic growers around the world and brewed locally. Each tea is unique in it’s own way and only lightly sweetened with organic honey. I sampled the Turkish Tea which uses Rize black tea, the popular tea from Turkey. It’s brewed with honey and a splash of pomegranate juice. It has a pretty light taste and not overly sweet. Their teas can be found at select Whole Foods Market stores in Chicago.
Autumn Berry Inspired
The autumn olive tree is considered an invasive species in parts of North America, but this company harvest the autumn berries found on the tree and use it to produce delicious food products. The autumn olive tree, native to Asia, was brought to North America as an ornamental shrub, but has been used in Korean, Japanese, and Chinese foods and traditional medicine. The berries are sweet and tart and high in antioxidants like carotenoid and lycopene. Autumn Berry Inspired, based in Urbana, IL, promote the nutritional benefits of the autumn berries.
They have the Original Autumn Berry Jam and also a Autumn Blazing Jam, a spicy version with jalapeno peppers. The jams can be enjoyed on crackers or toast, or try it in a PB&J. I really enjoyed the Autumn Blazing Jam. The sweet and spicy flavor combination is great. Just a gentle kick. I didn’t find it very spicy, although the lady next to me thought it was a bit too much. They make fruit leathers. It’s like fruit roll-ups except no processed sugars, preservatives, or additives. Fruit leathers are completely raw, simply autumn berry and chia. There’s three varieties: original, bee pollen, and hemp seed. Makes a delightful snack. Their products can be found on their online store.