Q: Can you share a little more about your background with local food?
A: I have always been fascinated by foodways and culinary arts. Years ago, my husband and I rented a farm outside of Oskaloosa, IA where we started raising free-range chickens and organic produce. We sold our products directly to consumers but once we moved to a rural area (outside of Iowa City), we found that people weren’t always interested in what we were offering at the time. People didn’t yet consider local food a higher priority—so it got me thinking about why it is important to me and how I can share this lifestyle with others. Now I have a large garden near Aurelia and have been making my own map of local farmers that I buy food from that I share with others. Now I can help do this through Flavors of Northwest Iowa!
Q: Tell me more about what you have been doing to share the local food lifestyle.
A: When I moved to Northwest Iowa, locally grown food was more difficult to find without an urban market like I went to in Iowa City so I started to put feelers out to locate the artisan producers. I learned who to talk to and built up a small a network of people who knew where to go for grassfed beef, organic chickens, goats, homemade cheese, etcetera. I just shared what I learned with friends and neighbors enthusiastically because it is healthy, nutritious food for our communities and makes sense economically. There is joyfulness in it, too! I love the sense of pride, craftsmanship, and husbandry of the local producers that I know.
Q: What do you hope to help Flavors of Northwest Iowa accomplish as we further develop the regional food system?
A: I would like to see us pinpoint every source of locally grown food in the region. We also need to concentrate on education—informing consumers on the benefits of locally grown food. It would also be good if we could find a way to help streamline the distribution chain regionally. I want to see more locally grown food in the local grocery stores and generally more available in more places.
Q: I hear you’re a great cook—what is your favorite thing to create in the kitchen?
A: Soup! Soups are wonderful because they have no hard and fast rules. You can approach them in many different moods. A certain soup can cheer you up, while another might return you to health. Soups are often have very distinctive regional and ethnic identities, but are accessible to the home cook. On the other hand, soup can use up all the odds and ends you collect from your garden or CSA. Maybe you’ll be seeing a few of my cooking tips and recipes on this blog in the future!