On September 10th to 12th, 2013, thousands will visit the Sonoma County, California fairgrounds for the Third Annual National Heirloom Exposition.
According to the Heirloom Expo’s website, 300 food vendors and 100 speakers will participate during the three day conference.
Exposition events are reminiscent of local county fairs: giant pumpkin and largest tomato contests are featured along with livestock and poultry exhibitions, educational seminars, and as noted above, 300 vendors. How many state fairs can claim that number of vendors?
Speakers include Patrick Holden, Sustainable Food Trust CEO, Vandana Shiva, Environmental Activist, Ronnie Cummins, Organic Consumers Association Director, and Jeffrey Smith, founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology, whose video exposes of GMO foods have gotten the issue of GMO food broad exposure.
These speakers are well-known headliners, mainstream players in the organic and sustainable foods movement, but a look at other participants indicates the depth and breadth of this conference: William Weaver, food historian and regular writer for The Heirloom Gardener, Errol Schweizer, Whole Foods Senior Global Grocery Coordinator, Ira Wallace, co-founder of the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Jim Adkins of the International Center for Poultry, are just a few.
The event also has a lengthy list of sponsors, including major sustainable food players Mother Earth News, Whole Foods, Amy’s Kitchen, and the venerable Seed Savers Exchange.
Participant lists of vendors and speakers–authors, farmers, food activists– are lengthy, diverse and substantive, and suggest that this year’s Expo will be a seminal event for the sustainable foods community.
Approximately 20,000 are expected to attend this year’s event, about 6,000 more than attended last year.
The Exposition’s location in Sonoma Valley is appropriate. California’s Napa and Sonoma Valleys are among the most sophisticated food venues in the United States.
Long-famed for the best U.S. wines, these counties also have many of the country’s best restaurants and the San Francisco Bay area can arguably lay claim the being the birthplace of the sustainable food movement in the US. And last year’s political fight to label GMO food energized the California food community.
However, the length and diversity of vendor and participant lists indicate that the National Heirloom Exposition is truly a national event and further suggests that the sustainable food movement is no longer in a growth phase but is entering early adulthood, with an accompanying level of sophistication.
Just look at the Expo’s web headline: “the Most Anticipated Pure Foods Event of the Year.” That’s a new distinction and a new verbiage that goes beyond well-recognized organic and sustainable labels.
Tickets for the event are $10.00 per day, or $25 for all three days.
Anyone who’s a foodie, a fan of sustainable agriculture, supports labeling GM foods, or who simply wants healthy food—aka “pure food” –should put this event on their calendar.