A Young Woman Discovers Her Passion for Sustainable Food | Civil Eats

A Young Woman Discovers Her Passion for Sustainable Food

I took what is called January Term (J-Term) at University High School this year. The focus of the term was the importance of sustainable food and understanding our current food system. I feel that what I learned about the food movement, and slow food, has inspired me to one day develop my own farm and grow vegetables.

There were 19 students total in the class and we did an intensive study on agriculture, sustainable food, the slow food movement, the hidden truth about mass-produced food, and how to buy from local farms and why it is important. But this was not the only focus of this class. We had the opportunity to visit San Francisco and learn why it is a progressive city. We discussed the culture and history of San Francisco, and explored the Beat movement and read poets and writers such as Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, John Steinbeck, Allen Ginsberg, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. What moved me the most though was learning about our food system and preparing for two weeks prior to the trip by visiting local Indiana farms, watching films such as Food, Inc. and FRESH, and listening to guest speakers talk passionately about their involvement with the movement right here in Indiana.

But most memorable was the privilege to visit another place that also advocated for change in the food system. Visiting San Francisco was nothing short of serene. Our class had the chance to visit the Marin Farmers Market and it was transcending to be a part of the atmosphere. I felt connected to the farmers and being there and smelling all the fresh vegetables, fruits, poultry, and meats just felt right. It was natural, real, and in my face. I loved it. I could feel the enthusiasm and energy that these farmers had for this movement just by walking up and down the aisles at the market. I knew in that moment I had to become a part of this movement in some way. I could see the commitment that these farmers had in the fresh products that were available. I could taste the devotion when I tried samples; everything was so pure. When I had the opportunity to talk to the farmers face-to-face, I noticed how passionate these men and women are in regards to growing their products and all the time and work put into making them fresh, tasty, and a delicacy. What I loved most was seeing how many people cared about growing a product so it could reach the public and enrich their lives. These farmers are ordinary people who are fighting to make a change because they want to help people and our environment and create a customer base of uplifting believers. It is amazing. It instilled hope and excitement in me to see how many people are committed to make the way Americans eat more healthy and sustainable.

Our class also had the chance to eat at Chez Panisse and it changed the way I will eat forever. I know it. I smelled the mixes of herbs and spices, tasted the wholesomeness of each bite, and it made me feel better. (The photo was shot in the Chez Panisse kitchen!) This class has given me opportunities to feel connected to people in a way that I didn’t know was possible. I believe it is something you can only feel if you take the opportunities to become aware of how unethical and unhealthy our current food system is; once you know you must do something with your awareness.

I aspire to be like Matthew Jose and Tyler and Laura Henderson, all urban farmers in Indianapolis that we met and got to hear speak about how they have become involved. These individuals took a stand because they wanted to and they all have local gardens and farms and sell their produce to markets and at farmers markets. These individuals were compelled and inspired and felt this movement was a calling and now it has become their passion merging into a life.

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As Will Allen, a farmer in Milwaukee and Chicago said, “I am a farmer first, and I love to grow food for people, but it’s also about growing power.” Whether it is working in a kitchen crafting locally grown meals for the public, starting my own urban farm, shopping regularly at farmers markets, and always promoting people to change their eating habits, I will be a part of this movement.

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Amy Strawbridge is a senior at University High School in Carmel, Indiana and plans on attending Beloit College in Wisconsin this fall. Amy would like to study the humanities and dive into classes in English, anthropology, and physiology. She has been a goalkeeper for nine years and finds that the pressure of having to stop balls in intense moments grants her comfort. Amy thinks of herself as a light and happy spirit and is ready to become involved with something she just knows feels right. Read more >

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  1. (Applauding) Okay, Amy!
    As you learned, the sustainable food movement is not a bunch of crack pots and old hippies making noise. Perhaps the biggest thing you learned was that growing food is a craft, even an art form. Sustainable farmers are true craftsmen and, as you so eloquently said, "These farmers are ordinary people who are fighting to make a change because they want to help people and our environment and create a customer base of uplifting believers".

    It took me more than 35 years to "come back to my roots" after trying to get away...There is no greater feeling than knowing you have produced a great tasting, healthy, and enriching food product.

    Big Cheers for Amy.
  2. Civil eats requires civil disobedience at times and even revolutions. The raw milk food is leader among civil liberties and portraying the need for freedom in farming and all else we do in life. Once humans start and continue to mess around with nature, sustainable farming, and your milk and cows; then it it time to push back. Hard.

    If you have not read David Gumpert's book, "THE RAW MILK REVOLUTION - Behind America's emerging Battle Over Food Rights" - then read it now. You will learn and then have this need to do something about it. Tis man writes with true grit. He stands behind his words and is out there every day trying to affect good change. Real change. How many of "THEM" have written a book like this? There are none or few who have. and they should have if you are in a position to lead America. David Gumpert is a leader. And he has followers. Now business and entrepreneurs, small business owners, local farmers, local dairies, and more have to do the work. They have the tools and the David Gumperts out there today have the sword, their tongue and beautiful talent to write and report. Now the rest is up to you all. Read the book.

    Thank you.

    The Milkmen USA

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