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So often food festivals are little more than excuses to eat and drink too much. But this weekend there?s a local culinary fest that?s a bit more ambitious, since it serves up both delicious tastings and a deeper understanding of today?s important food issues.

The Good Food Festival and Conference is a multi-venue event that promotes local, sustainable fare from family farms. On Friday, MacArthur ?genius? grant winner Will Allen leads a barn raising (actually, a shelter for agriculture education) at Pasadena?s John Muir High School. On Saturday, there?s a daylong conference at LACMA ($45) with panel discussions exploring everything from farming economics to GMO food labeling (i.e., the upcoming Prop 37).

Then, for a big finish, there?s Localicious, the $125-a-plate Sunday night dinner benefiting small-farmer booster FamilyFarmed.org at Santa Monica?s Annenberg Community Beach House. Here 30 L.A. chefs including John-Carlos Kuramoto of Michael?s and Jeremy Strubel of Rustic Canyon prepare dishes sourced from 30 local farmers.

Think of it as a great chance to be spoon-fed both tasty bites and useful information.

Annenberg Community Beach House, 415 Pacific Coast Hwy., Santa Monica; 310-458-4904 or goodfoodfestivals.com

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