Think of the word “Pittsburgh.” What image comes to mind? To me, I see a skyline of the Steel City. I think buildings- PPG, Highmark, Consol, UPMC. But beyond the limits of what makes Pittsburgh a municipality, there is a host of people outside the realms of the three rivers that do their part to ensure that “local” is also something that we think of when we hear “Pittsburgh.”
On March 23-24, the 6th annual Farm to Table Conference will be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in the Strip District. A menagerie of farmers, chefs, dieticians, and health vendors will be gathering to provide locals with alternative ideas on food, supporting local business, health, and nutrition. The convention focuses on the idea that food sourced locally creates a trend that is beneficial to every party involved.
The consumer benefits from eating locally grown food – both physically and economically. Locally sourced food often means that the food isn’t treated with as many potentially harmful pesticides because the distance the food travels from farm to store is shorter. This is beneficial to the consumer for the obvious health advantages, but also often saves money since there isn’t a middle man such as a grocery store. The farmer profits financially, since he is selling his goods directly and can reinvest the money back into his farm, while also creating a relationship with the consumer.
The Farm to Table Conference features something for everyone, from speakers to demonstrations to activities for children. Several topics being covered by speakers include the quality of drinking water in Pennsylvania, grass-fed beef (one I wouldn’t want to miss!), and whole food and health. Stop by on Friday night starting at 5pm, for the ultimate locavore experience- the food tasting which features local food, wine, and beer samples. The food tasting is the manifestation of what supporting local businesses really means. Feast on samples from vendors such as Beaver Falls Coffee and Tea Company (a personal favorite since I went to Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania), Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance- featuring local cured meats, and Great Lakes Brewing Company.
Rally back on Saturday morning for a networking breakfast that is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. They’ve donated an array of local foods that are sure to whet your appetite. After the breakfast, it’s more speakers and demonstrations. The conference is a really great way to learn how to bridge the gap between consumers and local food providers. Tickets, schedule, and vendor information can be found at farmtotablepa.com.
Look for me at the conference, I’d love to interview you (yes, you) and get your take on the whole local movement and what it means to Pittsburgh, both socially and economically.
The picture above is based on a poster that features a collection of farms from Western PA. To view the full poster and order it, click here.