Jim Slama is the founder and president of FamilyFarmed.org, which encourages the production, marketing and distribution of locally grown and responsibly produced food and goods. FamilyFarmed.org expands the market for local farmers and food producers, by advancing the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement, supporting farmers markets, and playing an integral role in public policy in the state and region. Jim works with many of the leading trade buyers for local food in the Midwest including Whole Foods Market, Goodness Greeness, Chartwells Thompson Hospitality (Chicago Public Schools), Chipotle, Compass Group, Lettuce Entertain You, SYSCO, Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks, Natural Direct, Locavore Distributors, and more.
FamilyFarmed.org hosts the annual FamilyFarmed EXPO, a food festival, trade show, financing conference, and celebration of local food and goods. The purpose is to link some of the Midwest’s best local farmers and family-owned producers of food and farm products with the public, trade buyers and leaders in the field to foster relationships that facilitate the growth of local food systems. Each year the FamilyFarmed EXPO draws thousands of consumers and trade buyers.
Jim is the editor of Wholesale Success: A Farmers Guide to Selling, Post Harvest Handling, and Packing Produce. The manual gives small to mid-size growers technical assistance to help them develop the skills to sell produce into wholesale markets. As a result of this work, FamilyFarmed.org created the On-Farm Food Safety Project which is working with the FDA, USDA, food buyers, and advocates for small to mid-size growers to create an online tool giving farmers the ability to create a On-Farm food safety plan.
Jim played a key role in developing and helping to pass the Illinois Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Act, which has been hailed as model legislation to build a local food system. The law created the Illinois Local, Food, Farms and Jobs Council which is charged with developing local food systems in the state. Jim is a member of this Council.
Jim launched Sustain in 1996, following a successful multimedia campaign, which shut down an incinerator that generated 150,000 pounds of lead each year. Sustain went on to become one of the country’s leading environmental communication groups and had many regional and national victories. These included the Keep Organic Organic Campaign, which was accomplished in partnership with the Organic Trade Association. The effort helped generated 275,000 comments to the USDA opposing standards that would have allowed food that was genetically engineered irradiated and grown in sewage sludge to be called organic. Other victories included stopping the state of Michigan from drilling for oil on the shores of Lake Michigan and forcing Congress to adopt a real recycling program when it was exposed that they were only pretending.
Jim and his companies have received a great deal of recognition. In 2007, FamilyFarmed.org’s work earned the Yahoo! for Good Green Award. Jim was named by Crain’s Chicago Business to its “Forty Under Forty” annual list of leading young business and civic leaders. Jim also received the Chicago Tribune Good Eating Award for his contributions to the Chicago food and beverage world. Jim was the founding publisher and editor of Conscious Choice magazine and during his 14 years tenure, it was named nine times by The Utne Reader as a member of the Best of the Alternative Press. His work has been featured in Chicago Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business, The New York Times, Ode Magazine, and The San Francisco Chronicle among others.