March 18, 2017–Live from the Good Food Festival and Conference

For the second straight year, The Mike Nowak Show with Peggy Malecki will be broadcasting live from the Good Food Festival and Conference at the UIC Forum in Chicago.We hope you listen in. If you’re at the festival, you can be part of this live broadcast on Mike’s new home at 1590 WCGO by simply by showing up and getting a seat in the Networking Lounge of the Good Food Concourse. Look in the upper right hand corner of this event map to see where we’ll be. It’s not in a room–it’s actually out in the open, as all good journalism should be. (Insert comment about our current U.S. administration and its coverage here.)

Mike and Peggy will be interviewing some very interesting people, including

Nicolaas Mink of Sitka Salmon Shares and Amber Peterson from The Fishmonger’s Wife, who will explain how to purchase sustainable seafood (which includes The Great Lakes). You should read the whole story to see just how unusual this company is and how far out on a limb its founders and supports went to keep it afloat…so to speak. But they’re in the black and the business is growing.

While Nic Mink and his friends bring in fish from the Alaskan shores, Amber Peterson and The Fishmonger’s Wife are fishing right out of Muskegon, Michigan, which means that the whitefish, perch, walleye and salmon are not going to be the same size as something out of the Pacific Ocean. says that success meant some basic changes:

The business expansion includes a used fillet machine where Eric had filleted all of the Fish Monger’s Wife’s Petersen Fisheries whitefish by hand until the equipment was purchased. Amber Mae says her husband can fillet a Lake Michigan whitefish in 17 seconds.

The family business will annually process upward of 20,000 pounds of whitefish with each fish weighting from 2 to 4 pounds. With cleaning and filleting, half of the fish’s weight is lost as scrap, she said.

However, they also work with brokers to bring in shrimp, scallops, oysters, clams, tuna, red snapper, grouper and herring, which are shipped in overnight. Nevertheless, what we have here is a tale of two fish businesses, with decidedly different approaches.

Jennifer Filipiak from American Farmland Trust, who will talk about how soil health fits into the larger picture of sustainability and climate change. The AFT’s mission is to protect farmland, promote sound farming practices, and keep farmers on the land. To that end, since 1980 they have been able to

  • Sound the alarm about farmland loss with our ground-breaking Farming on the Edge reports and upcoming State of America’s Farmland mapping project
  • Establish our nationwide Farmland Information Center, a resource for farmers and communities who need help saving their farm and ranch land
  • Guide passage of a national farmland preservation program in the 1996 Farm Bill
  • Help 27 states and numerous communities authorize programs that permanently protect farm and ranch land from development
  • Transform national farm policy in the 2008 Farm Bill with important wins for conservation, renewable energy, the farm safety net, and local foods
  • Help thousands of farmers reduce their use of fertilizer and highly toxic pesticides
  • Launch the nation’s first interstate water quality trading project to benefit both farmers and our water

Billy Burdett from Chicago’s Advocates for Urban Agriculture, an organization dedicated to promoting farms, community gardens and home growing in organization made up of a lot of different stakeholders–individuals, organizations and businesses–all with the goal of promoting sustainable agriculture in and around Chicago, whether it’s farms, community gardens or home growing. To do this, AUA

  1. Advocates for good urban agriculture policy
  2. Shares information, resources, and best practices
  3. Connects practitioners, consumers, and projects through a strong network

For instance, Take a look at number 1). Pretty much anybody who grows stuff knows that one of the best practices to be successful is to use compost. But for many years, Chicago farms and community gardens weren’t permitted to take kitchen scraps or yard waste from their neighbors or accept larger quantities of organic waste from nearby businesses.

A few years ago, AUA starting working with the Mayor’s office and groups like the Illinois Environmental Council (IEC), the Chicago Food Policy Action Council (CFPAC), and many others, which resulted in the City Council passing amendments to Chicago’s composting ordinance to allow community gardens and urban farms to accept and compost food scraps and other organic waste generated offsite. If you know anything about how a large city like Chicago works, that was a BFD.

But as recently as this past week, the emails about how to tweak that ordinance to make it more effective were flying. We’ll talk to Billy about that and other AUA initiatives to make urban agriculture better in Chicago.

Jen Miller and Chris Trogg from Band of Farmers, which has just released a terrific list of CSAs in an insert in the March issue of Natural Awakenings Chicago. You might know that CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Band of Farmers describes it as “a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes esentially that community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and rewards of food production.”Band of Farmers wants to educate those consumers about that model and get them to change the way they buy their food, but also how they think about fo

Now you might be interested to know that there is also a real “band” when it comes to Band of Farmers. Well, at least there’s a real talent show. It’s the 5th Annual Farmer Talent Show  on Saturday, March 24 at 7pm at the Red Line Tap in Chicago. As they describe it:Come watch our farmers get their ya-yas out before they get out in the field. “Talent” is defined loosely and often includes poetry, performance art, dancing, headstands, some really good music. Come see what they have in store for you this year at the 5th Annual Farmer Talent Show, March 25th, 7pm, Red Line Tap. Admission is FREE. Drink sale proceeds go to benefit the Band of Farmers’ mission to educate consumers on the importance of small scale farming and community supported agriculture in our. Its is always a fun event so come out to support a great cause!

• Meteorologist Rick DiMaio, who is always a go-to guy when it comes to weather in Chicago, but especially how it relates to climate change

Along the way, we will also be giving out some great prizes? gifts? swag? (your call) including T-shirts and tickets to the Chicago Flower & Garden Show at Navy Pier (more on that in a moment).

It’s not too late to get tickets to the Good Food Festival at the UIC Forum in Chicago. This year, they’re FREE! All you have to do is register right here!