Some 700 members of the “Practical Farmers of Iowa” are holding their annualconference in Ames today (Friday) and tomorrow. P-F-I president Robert Karpsays the group’s focus is on farming that’s both profitable andenvironmentally sound.He says they do a lot of work to try and help farmers become more productiveand be more environmentally friendly. He says they also try to help farmersfind new markets for the things they raise and grow. Karp says they’rebringing in some big names to talk about alternative markets.He says the C-E-O of Sisco Corporation, the world’s largest food servicecompany, who has a commitment to alternative markets. And they’re bringingin the founder and manager of a New England food broker who also supportssustainable agriculture. Karp says only half of the groups members areproducers. He says the others are professionals and those interested inalternative food sources. He says the conference will feature severalworkshops for food suppliers and users. He says the workshops teach how to cook and use the food and they’ll helpexplain some of the labels and claims used for alternative foods. Karp saysalternative foods are growing more popular because it offers a new choice.He says people are looking for flavor and food is a way people can improvethe quality of their life without a big investment. Karp says many membersare people are tired of the old mass-produced food offerings.He says there’s some idealism and quality of life issues driving consumersand a growing number of farmers who’re making “lifestyle” choices about thesize of their operations and the way they produce things. The conferenceruns today through tomorrow.