Archive for September, 2010

Specific to Ann Arbor

When it comes to local food, Ann Arbor is an incredible place to be. The Ann Arbor Farmers market which is held on Wednesdays and Saturdays is a great place to  support your loca farmers, feel optimistic about the crowds of people carrying fresh produce home in canvas bags, and watch the seasons change through the vegetables which appear and disappear through the isles.

Two weeks ago I volunteered at Hope’s Harvest, a fundraiser put on by Growing Hope. A culmination of local restaurants scattered throughout the massive vegetable gardens and around the hoop house, provide delicious, seasonal meals for those who attend. This was my second year volunteering, and I met and caught up with an incredible array of individuals interested in and working with local food.

This previous weekend, I attended a Kombucha fundraiser for Unity Vibrations, where I continued to meet a wide array of people from the area, with similar interests. There was an incredible amount of food donated from local restaurants, there was live music, and kombucha tasting. Rachel and Turek brew Kombucha in 50 gallon tanks, bottle it, and then sell the beverage. With current FDA restrictions, however, Kombucha has been removed from the shelves temporarily.

Ann Arbor is thriving with people thinking about and demanding local food. The Homegrown festival left me feeling overwhelmed by the crowds, yet ecstatic about the turn out. People are clearly interested in and passionate about food.

For a girl interested in the local food scene, Ann Arbor is a haven.

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book.org.web.event list

this is a working list and is open to any and all suggestions!

book list:

to read:

  • Diet for a hot planet-anne lappe
  • The Oxford companion to food- alan Davidson
  • Food Matters-Mark Bittman
  • Edible-Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian
  • No nonsense guide to world food- Wayne Roberts
  • Empires of Food-historical context-Evan Fraser and Andrew Rimas
  • Agricultural Urbanism-Janine de la Salle and Mark Holland
  • 100 mile diet-Alisa Smith
  • How to cook everything-Mark Bittman
  • Stuffed and Starved-Raj Patel
  • Food Rules-Michael Pollen
  • Fruitless fall
  • Animal, vegetable, miracle:a year of food life

Already read:

  • Omnivores dilemma
  • The End of Food-Paul Roberts
  • Food Revolution
  • Catching Fire
  • A New Diet for America
  • Fast Food Nation
  • China Study

Organizations I have or plan to talk to:

  • Slow Food Huron Valley
  • Food and Friends
  • A Knife’s Work
  • Organic to Go
  • Dancing Crane Farm
  • Peter Berkley-Fresh Food Fast
  • Community Supported Kitchen
  • Sparrow Market
  • Peoples Food Coop
  • Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market
  • Tantre Farms
  • Roos Roast
  • The Brinery
  • Unity Vibrations
  • Think Local First

Along with books, movies, and organizations I have been attending events and plan to continue doing so. This is the best way to meet people, make connections and conversation in my opinion, and will continue to be inspired this way.

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Inspiration STRIKES

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Let’s do Lunch


In need of an idea for a project I might like to work on for the final year of my college career, I evaluated some of my interests. I knew I wanted to work with food, however “food” as a topic, is massive. What about food did I want to focus on? Agriculture, organic v. conventional, consumption, seasonal diets, subsidies, obesity, other diet related health issues, vegetarianism, veganism, raw food diets, preventative health, growing ones own food, urban agriculture in Detroit, “meatless Mondays”, all sorts of options arose, and attempting to narrow this down proved fruitless for the duration of my summer.

There was no way I wanted to design another “thing”, that much I knew. I enjoyed studying systems and trying to understand how and why they all function in a certain way. I found myself heavily influenced by my time spent in India and in the Upper Peninsula working on an organic farm, and decided to design a food preparation and distribution system. A lunch delivery business that would use environmentally friendly thinking on every level to provide working individuals with healthy lunches in a sustainable fashion.

“But what are you going to design”?

This is simply the framework for a business, and design will be needed on each level of execution. A business plan will define the scope of the project. This business will need an identity, branding, and marketing. The system around this idea will need to be designed in order to function fluidly. Research and problem solving with regards to distribution, production of meals, transportation, etc will need to be tackled and will include a great deal of design. Identifying exactly how customers will interact with the system, with the food, with the lunch pails, and the delivery people will be a part of the system helping to provide a newly designed lunch experience for the consumers.
-identity, branding, marketing, promotional material
-business plan
-lunch pail
-system-production, preparation, distribution, cleanup,
-experience-redefining the lunch experience, relationships with food and others via social media

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The letters “I” and “P” have never been so daunting as when they began showing up in my inbox this summer. It meant that my time as a free spirited, free-of-responsibility, youthful student would be coming to an end, but only after a year long senior project, which began causing me increasing agony as a searched for that one brilliant idea. Every morning I questioned what I should do this year for my project, and every night I went to bed without answers. Stress increased, and creativity dwindled.

“Go to sleep, it will come to you there”.
“Go do something completely unrelated to the project, maybe inspiration will strike you there”.
“Come up with a new idea every day and then look back and develop one”.

All sorts of advice, and still a void.

Leading up to this summer, I had found myself passionately interested in food and agriculture. It began in Joe Trumpey’s class my second year of college, and has only picked up in intensity, since. I have taken further classes about environmental impact of our dietary choices, and have spent a significant amount of my free time reading about food, learning about organic gardening and permaculture, trying to understand the FDA- USDA-Monsanto relations, talking about different diets, and teaching myself how to cook. I loved studying the webs from the production of food to the consumption, and looking into how, where, why, what, and when we eat compared to people of other regions and of other times.

I read all sorts of material including: In Defense of Food, The End of Food, Supersize me, Food Revolution, The China Study, Hunger, Silent Spring, Omnivore’s Dilemma, Catching Fire, etc. I watched movies such as The Future of Food, The real dirt on Farmer John, Food Inc, and the GMO Trilogy. I attended meetings and volunteered with local organizations, and spent my Saturday mornings at the Farmer’s markets, buying up produce for later meals I would prepare vegan. I visited the Michigan State student organic farm, volunteered with Growing Hope, went to workshops on beekeeping and permaculture, and learned all I could about sustainable agriculture.

It was this underlying interest of mine that fuels many of my projects. While traveling in India last semester, however, I was introduced to different kind of lunch. A lunch which was not packed of left overs and cold cuts in the rushed morning before running out the door to catch the bus. Nor was this lunch made up of tater tots and greasy, cheesy pizzas, hamburgers, and pop. It was a hot lunch delivered to the school from a person’s home. A home cooked meal biked to the school or the workplace around lunchtime in a pail known in India as a “tiffin”.

I soon found out that in Mumbai, they have this system down to an art. Here, through the streets of the largest slum in all of Asia, 200,000 lunches are picked up from the homes of workers around the city, and delivered to them at work by a fleet of 5000 delivery men. This system is unbelievably efficient, for only 6 in every one million lunches goes astray. I was intrigued by the design of the pales themselves, the act of eating a hot, home made meal delivered at the lunch hour, and the feelings surrounding this tradition and the experience of lunch itself.

Upon returning to the country this summer, I spent a month in the Upper Penninsula at Dancing Crane Farm. Here I lived and worked, learning about organic farming by becoming an organic farmer. Walking out to the fields each morning, barefoot, empty laundry basket in hand, warning the weeds of their treacherous future, I learned about food by growing it.

The combination of these two experiences formed the ideas which would become my IP project.

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