The Good Acre went to the National Restaurant Association Show!

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2,200+ exhibitors. 58,000+ attendees. Four days. One mission: transform our food system, buy local food. We were honored to be invited to join the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and a delegation of Minnesota-based food businesses for the 2024 National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, IL as an exhibitor!

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The National Restaurant Association trade show is where restaurant industry professionals gather to discover innovative products, network with peers, and gain insights from expert-led sessions. It’s the ultimate hub for restaurant and hospitality trends, showcasing the latest in culinary advancements, technology, and business strategies.

So why were we there? Our goal was to increase our brand visibility and connect with food buyers in our region, making sure they left our booth with an idea of how The Good Acre, and food hubs across the country, can add value to their businesses.


Over the four days of the trade show, we met restaurant managers, food distributors, chefs, consumer packaged goods (CPG) business owners, representatives of large retail brands, and even one other food hub. (Shout out to Region Roots in Crown Point, Indiana!) We had a lot of great conversations with attendees and other exhibitors. Questions we asked visitors included:

  • Do you do any local sourcing for your business? What’s that been like?
  • Have you ever heard of a food hub?

Conversations we sparked included:

  • According to the USDA, eight cents of Americans’ food dollar go back to the farmer. When you source from The Good Acre, that figure is closer to 85 cents back to the farmer.
  • The pandemic showed us how fragile global supply chains are. Having a thriving local food economy is critical for ensuring food security and resilience in our food supply.
  • Having access to many growers through a food hub is a great way to mitigate the risk of working with one large produce supplier in the case of hail, drought, or other weather and climate-related disruptions.
  • Local sourcing is a great way to incorporate more supplier diversity in your foodservice program. Since we work with so many diverse farmers, you get access to all kinds of culturally-relevant crops you usually can’t get from larger food distributors.

We even had the opportunity to fine tune our pitch! So what’s a food hub?

“We’re a local food distributor in St. Paul, Minnesota. We work with over 100 small farmers to aggregate their produce to meet the demand of larger wholesale buyers. Our customers include larger institutional buyers like food banks, college campuses, and farm-to-school programs. We make sure that our farmers have access to market opportunities beyond direct sales, and we also support them with the technical assistance necessary to grow for wholesale markets.”

One of our biggest takeaways from our first trade show was the noticeable underrepresentation of farmers despite food being the foundation of the entire restaurant industry. We are grateful to MDA for including us in the Taste of the States pavilion, allowing us to showcase our efforts in making sourcing local food efficient without compromising our values. The Good Acre’s values-based approach of sustainable farming and fair pricing is essential for the future. We’re honored to be at the forefront of redefining procurement in the face of a changing climate. We left Chicago with full bellies, global connections, inspiring conversations, and a renewed commitment to our mission of transforming the food system.

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