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FARE Idaho's 'Field to Fork’ festival is a mash-up food trade show, public moveable feast

Field to Fork Festival is set for January 19, 2023
FARE Idaho
Field to Fork Festival is set for January 19, 2023

What is a foodie? A gourmet? A food snob? Someone who insists on photographing anything they consume? Or are most of us foodies because, quite simply, we care about what we eat and have a particular interest in where it comes from?

We have occasional opportunities – perhaps at a farmers market – to source our food. FARE Idaho would like to change that, beginning with their first-ever “Field to Fork Festival,” on Jan. 19 at JUMP in downtown Boise.

“During the trade fair portion, we will have samples available from our producers, but then we'll also have Chef-led classes in the afternoon,” said Katie Baker, executive director of FARE Idaho. “We want to really allow people an opportunity and a glimpse to think about how that product arrives on our plate and on our table.”

Baker visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about her organization’s hopes for the festival, and how unique it is to mash up a trade show with a moveable feast for consumers.

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It's Morning Edition. Good morning. I'm George Prentice. If you hear our stomach grumbling in the next few minutes, apologies. But we're going to talk about an innovative food event that is certainly grabbed our attention. Katie Baker is here, executive director of FARE Idaho, and we'll learn more about that. We are told it is a trade association representing more than 300 Idaho farmers, ranchers, restaurateurs, food producers, professionals in the beverage industry. Katie Baker, good morning.

KATIE BAKER: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

PRENTICE: Right up top, January 19th. And this is your first…. and I want to make sure I get this right…Field to Fork Festival. So, me paint me a word picture.

BAKER: We've been really thinking about this event since FARE Idaho was born, but we wanted to. One of our goals, our organizational goals, is really to not only advocate on behalf of our members, but to connect Idaho producers with Idaho retailers. And we were finding that it was really challenging not only during the pandemic, but to do that via email or phone calls or texts to really try to connect producers with retailers. So, we wanted to bring everyone together under one roof. So, we'll be taking over the jump building in downtown Boise and the morning portion will be a trade fair. So, we'll have booths. It will be interactive with not only the producers that have the boost available at JUMP, but also with consumers and industry partners and restaurateurs. And the list goes on.

PRENTICE: Can I just pause you there? I guess that was the first thing that grabbed my interest is that as a consumer, I normally don't go to trade shows, let alone am invited to a trade show. But again, you're talking about connecting all these dots, right?

BAKER: Yes. Yes, absolutely. We wanted to are our organizational structures a little different than a membership-based trade association? And so is this event actually. So, we wanted to do a more interactive and engaging type trade fair so that people could actually meet their farmers, their ranchers, their food and beverage producers, and get to know the people behind our food system and really creating what lands on our plate here in Idaho. So, we wanted everyday consumers to come and be able to meet these producers. It's sort of that concept of know your coffee roaster, know your distiller, know your food producer, know your rancher. And so we wanted people to have an opportunity to engage with these producers to build a connection with them.

PRENTICE: And I'm guessing this is also a rare opportunity for, those producers, big and small. In particular, I’m thinking of the modest ones. They usually don't get a showcase like this.

BAKER: So the way our organization is structured is that we represent smaller producers, so really smaller farmers, ranchers and food and beverage producers, and that can really be someone that makes salsa all the way to a craft brewer. But we wanted to give them an opportunity to highlight their products in a way that they hadn't been able to do before, with the exception of maybe a farmer's market.

PRENTICE: So over in one corner, somebody could be inking a life changing deal. And over here, as a consumer, I'm getting amazing tastes, right?

BAKER: Yeah. During the trade fair portion, in the first part of the day, we will have samples available from our producers, but then we'll also have Chef-led classes in the afternoon. So, it sort of carries out throughout the day.

PRENTICE: So, whet my appetite there. Chef-led workshops?

BAKER: We have a number of those starting at 11 a.m

PRENTICE: Okay. You have our full attention… plus panel discussions, right?

BAKER: Yes, absolutely. We're really excited about the panel discussions only because this gives us an opportunity to really trace how food lands on our plate. And really, every one of those panel discussions will have a farmer or a rancher on there. And then we'll also talk about some of the obstacles that these producers face when they're trying to get the product to the everyday consumer and then also the retailer. But then we want to really allow people an opportunity and a glimpse to think about how that product arrives on our plate and on our table.

PRENTICE: And do I have this right? This is free.

BAKER: Yes. Yes. This is open to the public. Absolutely.

PRENTICE: January 19th, Thursday. That's a Thursday, 9 to 4 p.m. there f a r e. That's an acronym. Yes.

BAKER: Fare stands for Food, Agriculture. Restaurants and establishments were a differently structured type organization in that we represent the local food system. We were born out of the pandemic. It was really independent restaurants and retailers and bar owners getting together and realizing that they were uncertain how to navigate a pandemic, uncertain how long their businesses would survive being closed and uncertain as to how to operate every day during the pandemic. So we created a nonprofit trade association that is membership based, that represents our local food system. So within our fold is farmers, ranchers, food and beverage producers, independent restaurants, independent bars and retailers.

PRENTICE: And the event is field to fork January 19th. And Katie Baker is executive director of Fair Idaho. Katie. Best of luck with this event and thanks for giving us some time this morning.

BAKER: Thanks. And we'll hope you join us.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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