Today’s consumer – often three or four generations removed from the farm – gets food information from a multitude of sources, including online, health experts, foodies and more.
These voices carry a level of influence about how consumers make decisions. That’s why ongoing conversations – especially about farming – are so important. To engage with this influential audience of food bloggers, dietitians and other food industry influencers, the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff program hosted a soy-inspired farm-to-table dinner, Aug. 16, at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago’s Smart Home.
The dinner is part of the ISA Soy in the City initiative. The initiative shares with Chicago-area millennial consumers and influencers the different ways soybeans positively impact them in their daily lives, including sustainable, locally grown food. It’s also part of ISA’s broader initiative to expand its roots in Chicago, which is a converging point for the agriculture and food value chain.
“Chicago is interesting in that you have this major food scene for consumers and influencers to explore. But it also has a rich agricultural history, with farmers just beyond city limits growing ingredients that make their way to restaurants and grocery stores,” says Andrew Roselius, an ISA Soy Ambassador and soybean farmer from Onarga, Ill.
“There’s this heightened interest in all things local. That’s why we wanted to bring together a variety of influencers who, in their own ways, are impacting consumers. We wanted to show that local farmers like me are sustainably growing the soy-based ingredients Chicagoans use at home.”
Dinner guests tasted their way through dishes like teriyaki chicken, Asian bacon coleslaw and Southern soy-lacquered pork belly. Farmers and chefs shared their own “farm” and “table” perspectives on topics ranging from the role soybeans play in feeding Illinois pigs, to the nutritional benefits and versatility of the crop in ingredients like oil and soy sauce.