Quick Bites: Connecting the Dots, From Plots to Pots (to People)

Are you an Arizona farmer, chef or restaurant owner? Or maybe just a local food lover who is—or wants to be—in the movement promoting the local production and sourcing of food in this great state?

That movement depends on building and strengthening connections among food producers, vendors and consumers to ultimately support local (food-related) businesses, environmental sustainability and community health.

Those are exactly the aims of the upcoming seventh annual Arizona Farmer + Chef Connection extravaganza, held by Local First Arizona. At the expo’s “Suppliers’ Marketplace” a vendor fair will bring together hundreds of Arizona food producers and distributors to connect with local food-business owners and the general public. Meanwhile, there will be breakout workshops in which all attendees can connect through topics related to local food production and consumption (like last year’s cleverly named workshop “Leveraging Your Localism”).

To foster even more networking, the expo will finish with a grand reception featuring scrumptious appetizers—locally sourced, of course!—and Arizona wine, beer and spirits.

This year’s expo will be the first chance for folks to give feedback on the “Good Food Finder AZ,” a statewide online directory of local foods through which consumers and institutional food buyers can learn about and connect with providers statewide.

It’ll also be the first expo to announce winners of the “AZ Made” awards, which recognize excellent providers of food, drink and crafted products made in Arizona—dubbed “local food heroes,” by Erika Mitnik-White, Local First Arizona’s southwest Arizona director.

The deadline has passed to reserve a vendor’s spot, but there are still plenty of tickets left for members of the public—whom Mitnik-White maintains are really important attendees.
“It’s a great event for individuals to learn how to be advocates for Arizona food,” she said. “We want people who are passionate about food to see what’s out there so they can ask for Arizona products; this event will connect them with those products.”

The Arizona Farmer + Chef Connection takes place on Mon., Sept. 12, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., at the Tucson Convention Center, 260 S. Church Ave. Tickets are $20.