Food For Thought Festival

Tonight Madison, Wisconsin kicks off the 7th annual Food for Thought Festival, when growers, vendors and eaters celebrate the bounty of fresh, local and sustainably grown food available in the state. The event includes cooking demonstrations, music, children's activities and delicious food samples. While the festival celebrates regional cuisine and local growers, it is an important part of the national effort to support a sustainable food system. Nationally known guest speakers at past festivals include: Alice Waters, Francis Moore Lappe, Rick Bayless and Eliot Coleman. This year's key-note speaker is Joan Dye Gussow, author of This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader. The annual festival is hosted by R.E.A.P. Food Group, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the development of an environmentally sustainable, economically just, and healthful food system in and around Madison. They are also responsible for bringing fresh local food into public schools via the Homegrown Lunch program.

Odessa Piper will join Dr. Gussow at this year’s festival as guest chef. Well known as the founder, chef and owner of L'Etoile Restaurant from 1976 through the spring of this year, Odessa’s passion for cooking with Wisconsin’s fresh farm products began when she first moved to Wisconsin, to train under JoAnna Guthrie at the Ovens of Brittainy restaurant. Ms. Piper’s artistry is known nation wide. She has been featured in Gourmet, Sierra Magazine, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Wine Spectator, New York Times, National Public Radio and National Public Television. She is also a recipient of the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef - Midwest.

Known for being on the leading edge of just about any progressive cause, the community of Madison is especially proud of its great farming tradition and exceptional farmers' market system. Gary Paul Nabhan, director of the Center for Sustainable Environments once said; "Madison, Wisconsin is to sustainable food initiatives what Austin, Texas, is to Western music: a thriving center of innovation."