Food Forever Experience

Chicago

What’s on Your Plate: A Solutions Symposium

We partnered with The Hatchery to bring together world-renowned chefs, regional change makers, business leaders and scientists for a solutions symposium dedicated to changing our food system.

Creating better food systems requires us to rethink, and to realize the opportunities we already have. How can we connect seed banks with farmers and chefs? How can we design and implement more efficient food policy? How do we achieve a better local food economy using the diversity of our foods? How do we innovate for the benefit of people and planet?

By diving into what we eat, where it’s sourced and how it’s produced, we can better understand the challenges our food systems currently face and the solutions that can be found in utilizing the diversity of our foods. Our goal: to shape an ecosystem that can drive action and help safeguard the foundation of our food, forever.

Check out the livestream of the Symposium here:

Meet the Speakers

Diverse Tasting @Google

The Food Forever Experience Chicago took us from the chef’s table to the seed bank and many places in between, as we watched chefs transform the weird and wonderful into the extraordinary. We tasted ingenious dishes featuring crops backed up in the Arctic – inside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault – and locally sourced specialties like pawpaw and ancient corn, as well as rediscovered foods from around the world, such as amaranth, moringa, edible insects and more. On 11 July 2019, we showed why these and other lesser-known crops are so important for creating resilient, sustainable and delicious food systems.

Meet the Chefs

The Ingredients

  • Agretti

    Agretti is a Mediterranean plant with edible, thin and fleshy leaves. It tastes similar to spinach, despite its odd look. The plant is also known as saltwort due to its salt-tolerant nature, growing on seashores. Historically, it was burnt to make soda ash for glassmaking.

  • Amaranth

    Nutritious and gluten-free, this small grain has recently been popularized as a superfood in some countries. The plant has been cultivated since Aztec times, when it was also used in religious ceremonies. More recently, Europeans have mostly used it as an ornamental, but in countries like Mexico, amaranth is once again becoming an important staple.

  • Blue Hopi Baby Corn

    For the Hopi Native Americans, agriculture is a very important part of their culture. Hopi tradition says that at the beginning, the guardian of the Earth allowed each tribe to choose a type of corn. All the other tribes took large ears and the Hopis were left with a short ear of blue corn. This came with a long, difficult life but meant they were resistant to hard times. Indeed, traditional Blue Hopi varieties are extremely drought-tolerant thanks to their deep roots.

  • Breadfruit

    Breadfruit is a species of flowering tree in the mulberry and jackfruit family, originating in the South Pacific, from whence it was taken far and wide, including by Captain Bligh of HMS Bounty fame. Its name is derived from the cooked fruit, whose texture is similar to freshly baked bread and tastes like potato. Recent advances have allowed breadfruit to be processed into flour for use in baking and even to make pasta, which has opened new market opportunities for farmers.

  • Cardoon

    Cardoons are an unusual-looking vegetable, with large spiky leaves that should be blanched as they grow. Consumers shouldn’t be discouraged by the strange look though because their pale green stems have a delicious artichoke-like flavor. This might explain why they are so popular in Italy. Cardoons grow in dry climates and are native to the Mediterranean. The plant was introduced to North America in the 18th or 19th century, but unfortunately, they fell out of fashion and escaped cultivation to become a weed.

  • Daylily

    The unopened flower buds of the daylily are delicious, with a rich, sweet flavor when cooked. The colorful flowers are also edible and are eaten in Chinese soups. Daylily plants are vigorous growers, able to tolerate drought and frosty conditions.

  • Edmund's Blood Beet

    ‘Edmund’s Blood’ — likely an old commercial beet variety — was listed as early as 1911 in the F.H. Woodruff & Sons catalog. Its spherical roots have dark-red, smooth skin, and its flesh is purple-red with a thin, white ring and a smooth, juicy texture. Its roots measure 2.5-3.7 inches in length and 2-4 inches in diameter, and weigh up to 15 ounces. The plant grows 8-14 inches tall and has dark-green leaves with purple petioles and veins.

  • Spence Kickapoo Bean

    The Kickapoo bean is named after the Kickapoo Tribe that originally passed on the bean to the ancestors of one of Illinois’ local farms, Spence Farms, in 1830. Many Native American food cultures center around three main agricultural crops- squash, maize and beans. These are known as the Three Sisters and are traditionally planted close together. The Kickapoo bean has now been passed down through generations among tribe members and on the Spence Farms property.

  • Long of Naples Squash Blossom

    Squash are from Mexico and their flowers are a part of Mexican cuisine, often featured in soups or to fill quesadillas. Long of Naples is a squash variety which produces giant squash with edible blossoms, which can be eaten raw or cooked. They bring a very subtle flavor to most dishes.

  • Nettles

    Nettles have stinging hairs along the stem, but that is no reason to avoid these nutritious, local plants. Young leaves must be picked and then cooked or dried to remove the sting. Eat it buttered or as nettle soup or sauce. It is particularly high in protein and rich in vitamin C and iron, and can be found with both red and green leaves.

  • Pawpaw

    Pawpaw fruits are the largest edible fruit indigenous to the United States. They have a sweet, custardish flavor similar to banana, mango or pineapple. They are mainly eaten raw, but are also used to make ice cream or desserts.

  • Prickly Pear

    There are several species of prickly pear – all flat, spiny cacti. The Indian Fig has been domesticated, most likely in Mexico originally, and is a perfect crop for dry areas because it requires minimal rainfall. As the name suggests, the thick skin of the fruit has prickly spines that should be avoided, but under this is the refreshing pulp. High in vitamin C and fibre, some say it tastes like watermelon, others like strawberries or pears.

  • Purslane

    Purslane is a leafy vegetable that is hidden under our noses, growing as a weed in the United States. But do not be so quick to remove it from your garden – it is high in vitamins C and E, iron and magnesium. It has a slightly sour, salty taste. Purslane is most commonly eaten fresh in salads.

  • Queen Weaver Ants

    Weaver ants are one of the most widely consumed insects and are very popular, as they have a dual purpose. They are edible for human consumption, both high in protein and fatty acids, and act as a biological control agent as they can increase plant productivity by reducing other pests and insects. They are particularly important in Southeast Asia where they are commonly eaten, and in Thailand, they are an expensive delicacy, twice the price of beef.

  • Quelite

    Lamb’s Quarters, known as quelite in Latin American cuisine, is a plant found almost all over the world. It is fast-growing and often considered a weed, but in some parts of the world, like in Northern India, Lamb’s Quarters is cultivated as a food crop. Normally the young plant is cooked as greens, but its numerous black seeds are also eaten. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals.

  • Roasted Iroquois Cornmeal

    Iroquois Native Americans continue to grow their prized white corn, although it requires more effort than most varieties. Historically, Iroquois women grew this corn, shelled and cooked it as staple part of their diet. Eating Iroquois cornmeal supports the preservation of their history as well as the preservation of this unusual, large-eared variety with a unique, slightly nutty flavor.

  • Sorghum

    Sorghum is called “the camel of crops” because of its ability to grow in arid soils and withstand prolonged droughts. The crop plays a major role in the food security of millions of people in marginal agricultural areas, and globally, it’s the fifth largest cereal crop after wheat, rice, maize and barley. A sweet syrup is made from the juice of the stems in the southern United States, and the cereal makes excellent brew for beer and other alcoholic beverages. But the crop has multiple uses beyond using the grain as food: the plant is used as animal fodder after harvest; the straw for building materials and it’s now even being grown as an energy crop, producing ethanol from the sweet sorghum variety for use as bio-fuel.

  • Sunflower Heads

    Sunflower seeds are commonly eaten by themselves, but the flower’s beautiful petals and young buds are also edible. There are about 70 species of sunflower and almost all are from North America. Sunflower buds have a mild taste similar to artichokes after the thick outer layers are removed and the cores are boiled.

  • Moringa

    Moringa is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree native to India, but found in many parts of the tropics. It is sometimes called the “Never Die Tree” because of its extremely hardy nature. The young seed pods and leaves are used as vegetables and many other parts are used in traditional herbal medicine.

Our Partners

The experience was made possible by the commitment of our partners.

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Resources

  • Images
  • Video
  • Media Kit

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Food Forever Experience Chicago

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Interview with Alesha Black

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Interview with Dani Nierenberg & Natalie Schmulik

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Interview with Haile Thomas

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Interview with Marty Travis & Greg Wade

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Interview with Rick Bayless & Ellen Bennett

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Interview with Marie Haga

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