I didn’t grow up eating organic foods. I never went to the farmers markets near me or pick vegetables from my garden. I wasn’t a part of a co-op; I didn’t even know what a CSA was for most of my life. I was what I would now call a “mainstream consumer” and I didn’t even know it.
So how did suddenly I find myself working for The Land Connection to support sustainable farming and responsible local consumption in Illinois? Well, this is the story of a series of fortunate events that taught me to slow down and love local foods.
In my third year of my undergrad at Illinois Wesleyan University, I, like many students, chose to take advantage of my school’s study abroad program. And, as anyone who knows me is well aware, I fell in love with the town in which I lived for a semester: Syracuse, Sicily. As expected, I was in awe of the architecture, the suave locals and of course, the fine italian cuisine. However, what I did not foresee, was the deep attraction I would develop for the daily market at the main square.
At the time, I also happened to be in a Mediterranean Diet class which functioned as a nutrition-chemistry-cooking course hybrid. In it, I learned the science behind what made fresh food both so delicious and so good for you. I always found myself astonished about how little I knew about a process that we all undergo and that I enjoyed so thoroughly
We learned chemical structures of proteins and carbohydrates, made fresh almond milk, prepared mouth-watering dishes and even watched the process of making fresh mozzarella cheese to be sold at the market we went to every day. The more that I learned, the more I fell in love with food, where it came from, how it tasted, how it could be transformed and most importantly, how it had this curious ability to bring people together.
When I got back to the States and still in a daze from my life-changing journey, I happened to stumble across The Land Connection while researching for a project. Before I knew it, I was working here as an intern and getting to learn more about fresh food, this time in Illinois. And I was once again slapped in the face with all that I didn’t know–there were vegetables I’d never even heard of, events that weren’t familiar and local food restaurants and store that I didn’t know existed. As my knowledge of the local food community grew, so did my passion for my work at TLC. I wanted to do all I could to spread the word and and message of the Good Food Movement.
After finishing my degree, I was thrilled to come back to The Land Connection in order to continue the work that I started. I can’t wait to see what’s next for me to learn!