If the explosive growth of the restaurant scene and the local food movement in Pittsburgh is any indication, Pittsburgh has tons of locavores and foodies. One of the most popular annual events for such individuals is perhaps the Farm to Table conference.
This event is the perfect opportunity to network with other like-minded Pittsburghers, learn about things like canning and preserving, attend demonstrations, and browse the huge exhibit hall.
We recently had the chance to attend the conference as well as the Sunday night farm to flask tasting and left with a renewed appreciation for the local food scene.
Learning About Pittsburgh's Local Food Scene
If you're not that familiar with Pittsburgh's food scene and local food businesses, the exhibit hall is a great way to interact with many of these companies and learn all about what they do. Each year there are dozens upon dozens of vendors including things like local farms, restaurants, distilleries, grocery stores and food co-ops, and other general food and farming-related organizations.
Of course, one of the best parts of the exhibit hall is all the free samples. You can try everything from olive oils to smoked salmon, or from locally produced rums to beers. One of our perennial favorite vendors is Cherish Creamery which is a local goat cheese producer. They always bring along tray upon tray of samples of their delicious, creamy cheeses that are flavored with herbs, fruits, and more.
Another favorite vendor we discovered this year was the Penn State Master Gardeners booth. We are planning some big changes to our yard and have lots of questions, and we learned from the people here that the Penn State Master Gardeners have a very helpful website and email address. You can email them with pictures of your problems or questions and they will provide thoroughly researched responses. We look forward to utilizing this resource soon!
Besides all the free goodies, the conference has a lineup of great speakers on everything from how-to lectures to cooking demonstrations.
Some favorites include talks on at-home fermentation, gardening, canning, nutrition, and panel discussions featuring local chefs talking about how they source local ingredients for their restaurants.
Food and Drink Tasting Events
The Farm to Table Conference has generally also included some sort of food and/or drink tasting events with separate admission. Last year there were two different events, a food focused one and a drink focused one, while in 2018 there was one event (“Farm to Flask”) that mainly featured local alcohol producers with a few food vendors thrown in.
Although these events tend to be a bit small, there is always live music to keep the party going, and you can sample as much as you want from each vendor.
There are typically plenty of snacks to keep you going, too; this year features grilled cheese sandwiches from 5 Generation Bakers, and barbecue sauces, jams, and canned goods from Clarion River Organics, Two Acres Farm, Cherish Creamery, and more.
Overall, if you're extremely familiar with the local food and drink scene, this might not be the best event for you unless you just want to try multiple vendors at once- even here, the conference and tasting itself is quite small and is sadly getting smaller every year.
However, if you're new to the area or haven't spent much time at local breweries and distilleries, this is a great event to learn about them and talk with them one on one.
We'd like to thank the folks at the Farm to Table conference for inviting us out to check out the event. As always, all opinions are our own. Check out the previous link for the next event!
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