Fall Food and Wine Festivals
OK, fellow foodies, I’m back with more food and wine festival news. A few weeks ago, I attended the Charlotte Shout Festival in North Carolina, an event that went “green” for the second year in a row. They recycled over 35 percent of materials that went into the event, used eco-friendly utensils and serving plates made of corn polymers and starches, and donated 310 pounds of leftover produce to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina.
All of that inspired me to find other food and wine shows throughout the country that are getting serious about going “greener” this fall. Here’s a list of options, one from each area of the U.S.
Central Florida Veg Fest, Orlando, FL
Saturday, Oct. 25 (10 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
Loch Haven Park
If you have questions about organic foods, vegetarianism, or veganism, this is the place to be. Veg Fest promotes healthy vegetarian living and features cooking demonstrations, vegetarian meals from local restaurants, and speakers, including Julie Norris of Orlando’s Dandelion Communitea Cafe. The restaurant serves organic foods and tea and has been Green Certified by Co-op America for its sustainable business practices. And Veg Fest organizers have asked all participating restaurants to donate leftover food to the local chapter of Food Not Bombs.
Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show, Washington, D.C.
Saturday, Nov. 8 (10 a.m.-7 p.m.) and Sunday, Nov. 9 (11 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
Walter E. Washington Convention Center
This year, you’ll notice the green difference from the moment you walk in the door. Attendees won’t receive presenters’ printed recipes; thanks to an effort to save paper, the show is directing people to the website for information on the chef’s dishes. As for the chefs, several presenters at the show support local agriculture, including Chef Cathal Armstrong from Restaurant Eve and Chef Peter Smith from PS7. And on Sunday from 3:30-4, Brett Chappell from Calypso Organic Selections, which mostly works with small, family-run vineyards, will put on a workshop called “What Makes a Wine Organic.”
Even the Convention Center does its part to go “green” by placing 100 percent post-consumer paper disposables and Green Seal certified hand soap in the restrooms and recycling cardboard, mixed paper, bottles, glass, and more. The Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show plans to donate all leftover food to either the DC Central Kitchen or the Capital Area Food Bank.
San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival, San Diego, CA
Wednesday, Nov. 12 through Sunday, Nov. 16
Multiple locations throughout San Diego’s Downtown
This year the Festival reserved booths for wineries and food purveyors that use sustainable practices in the farming and production of their products. The list of exhibitors includes Carlsbad Gourmet, which makes spreads, dressings, mustards and more from California strawberries and other locally grown products. Their creations include Strawberry Jalapeño Spread and Ruby Red Strawberry BBQ Sauce. Fetzer Vineyards also will be at the festival with their eco-friendly wines. In 1984, Fetzer adopted sustainable farming practices to “ensure that the wines we create are in harmony both with our palates and our planet.”
“Recycle. Reuse. Repeat!” The festival is eco-friendly this year with color-coded recycle bins and reusable plastic wine plates — small dishes that have a place to hold your wine glass — instead of paper plates that attendees throw away after one use. But even trash can be beautiful. Scraps of signs and vinyl will be donated to local youth groups and children’s museums to be transformed into art projects and new materials.
Northwest Food and Wine Festival, Portland, OR
Saturday, Nov. 15 (4 p.m. – 9 p.m. for preferred guest; general admission at 5 p.m.)
Memorial Coliseum Exhibit Hall, Rose Quarter Pavilion
No stranger to sustainable foods and living, Portland is hosting the third annual Northwest Food and Wine Festival, where special bins will be on-site to ensure that all of those wine bottles get recycled (as well as other things). Throughout the evening, festival participants will offer samples to gourmet food and wine lovers. “Green” participants include West Cafe, a Portland restaurant using seasonal and local produce in its dishes, and Troon Vineyard, which grows organic grapes and hand-tends them.
Celebrity Food and Wine Expo, Des Moines, IA
Friday, Nov. 21 through Sunday, Nov. 23
Iowa Events Center, Hy-Vee Hall
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Curtis Stone will be heating up the Celebrity Kitchen Theater with dishes made from organic and seasonal foods. Jack Wenz, the venue’s chef, also is a major supporter of local agriculture and will be presenting on the Gourmet Stage. The presentation centers around cooking with all locally grown and raised foods.
“Green” exhibitors will be on site as well to offer samples of their products. All of RAWphoriaLIVE‘s products are wheat-, gluten-, and yeast-free with no preservative or artificial ingredients. Their jalapeño corntilla chips and gRAWnola will be available to be samples at the expo. Prairie Natural Meats will also be on-site to promote their beef, lamb, and veal — all free of hormones, antibiotics, and steroids.
The food and wine expo plans to avoid using disposal products whenever possible and will be using china instead. There will be recycling bins throughout the event space for aluminum cans, paper, and glass.
Photo: 2007 San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival; courtesy of Matthew Meier