Chickweed, edible to some, pesky weed to others. Photo by mystuart/Flickr.
If you judged it by its name, you might think the Food Book Fair is all about books. But actually the Third Annual Food Book Fair, coming to Williamsburg April 25-27 brings together authors, magazine and book editors, filmmakers, designers, artists and people like us: food enthusiasts.
Untapped Cities sat down and talked to native New Yorker Ava Chin, one of the authors competing in an event at the Food Book Fair, the Food Book Slam, to hear more about her hobby, foraging, her new memoir, “Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love and the Perfect Meal,” and, perhaps most important of all, how she is training for the competition.
Chin, also a professor at CUNY Staten Island, told us some of her favorite finds came from the lands near her school. We asked Chin what she would tell our readers about foraging and she told us anyone can do it. “If you can find a dandelion, you’ve already started foraging.” She went on to note that foraging is part of New York culture. “Before New York was a city it was a hunting ground for Native Americans. Queens was Dutch farm territory.” She reminded us, “Even though we think of New York as a concrete jungle, there are so many places where nature rubs up against the city.”
We asked Chin, who grew up in Flushing, if she ever foraged in other cities, which is certainly a skill an Untapped reader might want to foster. She told us she had recently returned from a trip to Seattle where she couldn’t help but notice chickweed, an edible weed that grows in the winter months. “It tastes a bit like corn,” she told us. The weed is tiny, like a micro green you might see tweezed atop a salad. “And it’s the bane of a farmers existence.” In fact, she told us, she’s volunteered at farms pulling this pesky weed out of the ground. She has also foraged in Colorado and the United Kingdom, where, incidentally, it was her toddler who spotted garlic mustard before she did.
And, we probably shouldn’t tell anyone this, but Chin used to be a slam poet, so when we asked her if she was ready for the Food Book Slam competition, she just laughed and rubbed her palms together.
The three-day fair, based in Williamsburg, includes panel discussions, a film screening, pop-up brew pub, pop-up farm, an entrepreneurial resource fair, a food book slam and a pitch competition, where budding entrepreneurs get to present their plans before a panel of experts.
It’s not easy to pick our favorites from the packed schedule, but below are a few of the highlights:
The Food + Enterprise: Entrepreneur Clinic is a daylong session on Friday, April 25, dedicated to financing food system change. The clinic will help businesses and food entrepreneurs connect with food consultants, business managers, technical providers, service professionals, and incubators in 20-minute “Speed Consulting” sessions. The day ends with a pitch competition, and the winner will get a $500 cash honorarium from Chipotle plus an opportunity to meet with Foodshed Investors NY.
Come support our Flushing forager, Ava Chin, at the Food Book Slam, where authors read from their books while a panel of judges, and the audience, score their performance. Hosted by David Gutowski and Kimberly Wetherell of DISH, a culinary-literary series. The Food Book Slam is on Saturday, April 26 at 10:30 a.m.
Be the first in New York to see a screening of the documentary “Fed Up” followed by a Q&A with Executive Producer Laurie David, who also produced “An Inconvenient Truth.” “Fed Up,” is about the weight of our nation, how we pack on pounds and why. It reveals a 30-year campaign by the food industry, aided by the U.S. government, to mislead and confuse the American public, resulting in one of the largest health epidemics in history. David will also discuss her new book, “The Family Cooks.” The screening is Sunday, April 27 at 10 a.m.