Tonight I found myself watching a celebrity news TV show. Why? Good question, I have no clue. They are not my cup of tea.

As happens during almost every episode or in every magazine nowadays, a celebrity looses a significant amount of weight, puzzlingly by following a new diet that is sworn to be the cure all solution for weight loss.

This celebrity had dropped a large amount of weight without exercise **GASP** by reading a book and following a diet that eliminated some vegetables and whole grains like brown rice, wheat, and oats.


In my field of nutrition, I’ve realized that our learning never ceases and nutrition research is continuous. There will always be a new finding, a new correlation, a new casual relationship, new suggestions, and new perspectives emerging in this field, and that is good. The hard part is deciphering through all those ideas and interpreting the truth.

I used to think that as a student of this discipline I had to take into account and almost stick up for any nutrition research study that emerged. We all are in the same boat in nutrition, are we not? Sadly, I don’t think we are.

Rather than taking nutrition research at face-value, I now interpret and determine for myself if the research is study or claim that I deem credible. Spoiler alert: This ain’t one of them.

I may not know everything, but I do know this… Any eating practice or lifestyle that instructs you to avoid a certain food item, or worse, a food group (dairy, meat, fruit, vegetables, carbs) that you have culturally grown up eating is a DIET and is not sustainable.

I know that whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat, and oats are foods that can provide our bodies with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and calories that they need and can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancers, and more. 

I also know this reigns true also for vegetables. All vegetables. Dear gosh, please don’t stop eating vegetables. Eat more of them. Even if you think you eat enough of them, eat more.

Eat foods, all of them. Eat food just as it was grown and eat food that is processed. Enjoy it. Don’t over-do it.

Don’t be a Tina.








Questions? Leave a comment on this post and I’ll be sure to answer it!



I See What You Did There

If you’ve ever had conversation with me, you’d know I’m a little critical of our food system and the ways of our world. Actually that’s a lie, I’m very critical. *Critical, not cynical.* That’s a good way to be.

I’ve probably mentioned to you how backwards some things truly are, or how our society makes a big hoopla about the terrible choices we make or situations we put ourselves into but it is at the root of why our situations and choices are perpetuated.

Beginning in college, I’ve began to think more critically about our food, healthcare, and economic systems.

I See What You Did There is my sharing of things I find puzzling, especially those found in marketing to consumers. We are products of our surroundings, what we have access to, and what we are told.

Power to the consumer. May we make more informed choices and be more critical of what we think, do, say, and eat.


Misleading food marketing example #1. 

If you are a consumer, which I’m guessing you are, chances are you’ve heard these buzz words. Organic. Grassfed. Gluten-free. Paleo. Whole 30 approved. Wheat free. Dairy free. Keto. What do these phrases even mean? Who the heck knows? Doesn’t matter- they seem special and make plain ole’ mac and cheese suddenly not good enough for you or your family.

Spoiler alert! Mac and cheese is mac and cheese. Organic or not. Grassfed or not. It’s still just pasta, cheese, and salt in a box. You are worthy of any type of mac and cheese, your worth is NOT defined by the phrases on your food!




Graduate School

So far, this has been my progression through graduate school. I’m in my second semester of a total of four in a Master of Science in Nutrition program and loving it!


Start graduate school as a wide-eyed, optimistic, youngster.

Read assigned literature.

Realize how much I DON’T know about myself, the world, and this field.

Feel a little overwhelmed.


Keep reading more assigned journal articles, posts, books, etc.

Learn more about social injustices, big business, and the food system.

Start to feel upset and guilty that I have led a life free of injustice and have had a life full of opportunity that many do not.

Keep feeling overwhelmed. (Can I even make a change?!)

Read some more.

Learn about the peacemakers, do-gooders, and change-makers.

Feel a little better about the status of the world. There is hope.




Try and comprehend all the information I learn and think about its applicability in the real world. (Will someone even hire me?)

Keep on readin’.

Oh, and writing.

AND volunteer some more!

Realize just again how much I DO NOT know and become hesitant to speak about or defend a subject unless you know, and are confident in, the details.

You know what I’m going to say… READ.

Learn about the fascinating, progressive(?), complex world of research.

Think to myself, “could I do that one day?” “could I contribute something new?”

Again, realize how much I don’t know and how much more there is to learn. What a daunting, but exhilarating feeling.


Know that my family and friends think I are deserting them. It just takes so much time to get the most out of grad school, and that is what I want.

Try and time manage.



Overall, graduate school has been a great experience for me. I found that this is 110% a time where you must motivate yourself and find others that are doing the same. It is so easy to slip it the negative, “pity me,” state of being busy and knowing there is not enough time in the day to accomplish all that you want. I am SO unbelievably blessed to even HAVE the opportunity to keep learning. I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to know, memorize, or critically think about every subject. I feel like people will expect that of me after I have this degree? I do not know all there is to know in my field, nor will I ever. I’ve got to accept that.

The field of food and nutrition goes WAY beyond just food as a product and nutrition as a precursor or consequence. Out of the hours in the day, I think about something related to my field in probably 80% of them. That’s a lot of thinking, feeling overwhelmed, and daydreaming about the changes I’d like to make and how to make them.


Ok, time to get back to reading.







A ray of sunshine in Winter: Citrus

It may not seem intuitive because most of us consumers associate fruit with summertime, but citrus fruits are actually at their peak in the cold, bleak winter months. Just the right time for a much-needed dose vitamin C!

Much like everyone else, I follow multiple food accounts on social media, am subscribed to many different blogs, and receive newsletters from professional associations. To keep myself updated in the world of food and nutrition, I’m also subscribed to the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service listserv that sends emails about updates in FNS programs (child nutrition programs, supplemental/assistance programs, National School Lunch (& Breakfast!) Program to name a few), upcoming events in the FNS world, work being done in FNS programs, and recipe ideas! Last week I was sent an email about citrus during the winter along with nutrition facts, teaching materials and ideas, and recipes using citrus.

I haven’t used a USDA recipe for citrus, but it inspired me to look for recipe ideas! Introducing grapefruit vinaigrette!

Adapted from

  • 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice (squeezed from grapefruit, store-bought might work the same, I haven’t tried!)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (sugar or agave would work)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • I added one clove of freshly minced garlic (You don’t have to, I just looooove garlic)

Remember, recipes are frameworks! If you do not have honey or agave, use plain old sugar! Any citrus juice would work, try using lemon or orange.

I used this vinaigrette on shredded collards (my new favorite product, nutrient dense and delicious), pistachios, and chunks of the grapefruit I squeezed to make my dressing!


Visit the USDA’s SNAP-Ed website on citrus here.

Adapted grapefruit vinaigrette recipe here.

My still healthy, but super comforting winter meal go-to, Creamy Thai Sweet Potato Curry from Pinch of Yum here.

USDA Food and Nutrition Service website here.


Reflecting on 2017

2017 has been a jam-packed, transitional year to say the least. It has been a year full of friendships, good food, deeper thoughts, education, love, and faith. I’m not great at intentionally reflecting and I often forget events. This is an attempt to purposefully look back on the year 2017 and remember major events and memories- of course there will be mentions of food! Because, well… it’s a big part of my life, in case you hadn’t noticed.


I began the year in my last semester of undergrad and in true Meredith College fashion, had plenty of events with my senior class to make some of last memories together.

The semester before had been my last on a leadership team with a non-profit ran on campus. I had spent 3.5 semesters of my undergraduate career volunteering my time and guidance to helping build this program but I felt I needed to enjoy my last semester of college and experience new things. It definitely wasn’t an easy choice to give up my involvement with the organization. If you know me, you know that I put the weight of the world on myself when it comes to serving others or tackling an issue. The true status of the world (hunger, prevalence of overweight, obesity, malnourishment, enormous amounts of waste being generated, the shortage of water, the rising age of farmers, and a rapidly growing population) is daunting and compels me to act, but I am always overwhelmed knowing my small acts are not making the huge differences that need to take place. So yes, this was not an easy choice but a necessary one. This also gave me more time to volunteer my time in another way in the food and nutrition world!

I taught my first Cooking Matters class, this time for parents of children in the North Carolina Head Start program. If you haven’t been exposed to the Cooking Matters curriculum in some way, either as an educator or as a participant, I encourage you to do so. Each week introduces a new topic, building on participant’s knowledge of how to buy and prepare budget-friendly, healthy meals. Each CM class is different, but this one was especially due to the fact that almost all the participants were spanish-speaking mothers, most of whom did not speak fluent English. Myself, and the other educators conducting the class brushed up on our spanish and brought our minuscule set of vocabulary to class each week. Having this language barrier may have prohibited some portions of the curriculum from being absorbed, but feedback from the participants after each class was reassuring that they were, in fact, interpreting and understanding the practicality of the lessons.


Week 2 focused on establishing what food products were 100% Whole Grain and which products were not. If a product’s first ingredient lists “enriched” flour- it is not a Whole Grain product, but is a processed/refined grain product that has less health benefits than its whole grain counterpart. If the product’s ingredient list includes “100% Whole Grain” or “100% Whole Wheat” then the product IS a Whole Grain! If the label does not specify either of these, you can assume it is also not a Whole Grain. The Dietary Guidelines for American 2015-2020 recommends that half of all grains eaten be whole! So eat ya fiber!


I continued teaching the Cooking Matters for Adults class, loving every piece of my beautiful college and those in it, wrapping up my leadership position with the undergrad nutrition club, and enjoying the bounty of the spring season.

CMforAdults.JPG turnips


Work in the campus community garden to get ready for spring and summer crops took place and I took a trip with the College during spring break to Charleston, SC that made me dream about the possibilities of living and dining in the Holy City one day.


Peep our department head helping out in the garden! 🙂


Exploring Fort Sumter in Charleston, being my true self.


Class of 2017 had experienced their last ever Cornhuskin’ but there was still STUNT left to rock! And we did just that. Enjoy this pic of me lip-singing Beyonce. I felt just as sassy as the Queen B herself.

aprilSTUNTsarah   april3.jpg

I volunteered for the Piedmont Farm Tour at two of my favorite farms in NC. In Good Heart Farm (Pittsboro, NC) and Open Door Farm (Cedar Grove, NC). Check em out!

may6.jpg Piedmont.JPG



My future plans after graduation were still uncertain. I had the possibility of pursuing graduate school for nutrition, only on the condition that I would receive financial support. I already had accrued quite a tab from my undergrad and really wasn’t ready to take on any more. A year of service with the FoodCorps or AmeriCorps seemed interesting and something very worth pursuing, so I searched. I found an AmeriCorps VISTA position as a Summer Associate in CHARLESTON, SC (!!) working in nutrition at the Lowcountry Food Bank!!! How perfect. I applied and really had my hopes up for this position. I could earn some money towards paying my student loans, work in child nutrition (which I love!!), get some great experience in government programs, and live in the place I had dreamt of. I figured that I could work for the summer and return in the fall and go to grad school or come back and find a full-time position. *Insert shrugging shoulders emoji*

That emoji doesn’t show the stress that comes with not knowing your future after graduation. It seems way too nonchalant. It is what it is.

I was able to apply for a scholarship at Meredith College in their Master of Science in Nutrition program and did just that.

Graduation was nearing and I continued loving on my college, updating my LinkedIn (you should check it out!),  and spending all the time I could with my girlfriends.

may9.jpg privledgetoknow.jpg may10

My all-time favorite/ life-guiding quote on my graduation cap. “Those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act.” -Albert Einstein. I have been blessed with the opportunity to receive higher education and experiences that have built my knowledge, therefore I have a duty to put that knowledge to work to better this world.

My best friend also got engaged to her perfect man and I got to be a part of it, eep!!



It was settled, I would head down to Charleston during the first week of June. I found an amazing room in a house downtown for rent during the exact dates I needed it. That was God’s hand at work… AGAIN!

I enjoyed my last few weeks of summer volunteering at the 2017 Farm to Fork Picnic. I’m all about some volunteering and free admittance into an event. Events like this one solidify how ahead of the game North Carolina is in local food system work. We proudly support our farmers, big or small, male or female, organic or sustainable. There are SO many great people working in NC at every level to connect those who grow our food with consumers who eat it. It takes an army to do this and I have confidence we have an army that is continuing to grow. JuneFarmtoForkpic.jpg

The best friend that got engaged, asked me to be her Maid of Honor for her November wedding at a new restaurant in Raleigh, Brewery Bhavana! I said yes and we enjoyed the most delicious dumplings and beautiful atmosphere.









I headed to Charleston, SC, moved in and had the first week free to roam the city. I did just that! I walked down streets, admired the houses and unique fauna each yard contained, and spent my nights in a rocking chair on my front porch, wine in hand, reading about Southern food in one of the most influential  southern places!!!! I was in Sarah Massey heaven.

egertonrosewine Much rosé was drank this summer on that porch.

I started working at the Lowcountry Food Bank and was tasked with administering and watching over their summer feeding sites on Johns Island. I had the best job- I got to make relationships with the people already tackling the problem that is summer hunger for the children on JI and envelop myself in their community fully by attending town hall and organization meetings. This summer’s work on JI again showed me how good people truly are and how we ARE made to serve one another.






This summer was full of beauty! We had my graduation gift, a trip to Colorado, planned before I knew my summer schedule in Charleston and decided to go through with it anyway! Colorado was breathtaking to say the least. colorado.jpg

coloradoo.jpg    coloradocont.jpg The Continental Divide at 12,000ft!



The rest of the summer in Charleston was full of history, shrimp and grits, sunsets, Hampton Park, the sweetest kiddos, window boxes, front yard fauna, rosé, dancing, an attempt at making sushi, walking, running, beach sitting, swimming, reading, more shrimp eating, rooftop bar sitting, the best cabbage pancakes, enjoying nature’s beauty, wedding-planning, becoming an amateur Charleston tour guide, pasta sauce and relish-selling, cheap bar-drinking, and 2AM biscuit-eating. It was a good one.


HamptonParkpeachtrees.jpg One of my favorite places to be this summer. Under two peach trees in Hampton Park.

hominygrillJune.jpg Eating fried green tomatoes (with the best homemade ranch!!) at Hominy Grill.

JuneShrimpandGrits.jpg I read A LOT of Southern food history and old cookbooks this summer. No shame. Here we recreated the famed Bill Neal’s Shrimp & Grits that were and still are on the menu at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, NC. With more rosé of course. The drink of summer.

Cabbagepancake.jpg Okonomiyaki with an egg, and chinese greens from Xiao Bao Biscuit. One of the yummiest things I tasted all summer. No joke. You know when you taste something, savor it so well, and enjoy the dish so much that the taste is forever ingrained in your brain? That’s how this is for me. Excuse my salivating. JohnsIsland

These two little guys eating lunch at a playground on Johns Island. This may look cute and picture-perfect, but truth is they were so preoccupied on playing with each other and were so young that I had to remind and encourage them every minute or so to eat. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems! But they finally ate their whole meal AND claimed they liked their carrots. WIN!

I found out I received the scholarship for the Master of Science in Nutrition program at Meredith College and that’s where I would be for the next two years!!! Blessing after blessing after blessing.


I worked in Charleston until the second week of August, came back home, and started grad school that next week. Whew! A beautiful chocolate lab ran up in the yard and long story short… he became Tyler’s! Heyyyyyy Bo. I was still adjusting to grad school, working at the College, living back at home, and helping to plan the details for two weddings, and multiple bridal showers/parties/bachelorette weekends. I was busy.



Some of my awesome friends got together for a night to celebrate my being back in town! I felt refreshed and sort of a new person coming back from my summer adventures and now taking on grad school! We ate more Lowcountry cooking at The Big Easy in downtown Raleigh followed by fancy cocktails at Fox Liquor Bar. Because, well, I guess I wasn’t ready to give up the Charleston lifestyle just yet. We planted our fall crop in September of broccoli, swiss chard, collard, kale, radish, carrot, turnip, and mustard.


One of my first classes focused on the role and importance of nutrition throughout the human lifecycle and gave special attention to community/government programs that offer assistance in each stage. “Food stamps” or SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is one of those programs. Our class was assigned to take the SNAP Challenge for 5 days. I’d heard of the challenge before and always wanted to do it- now I had the chance. The SNAP Challenge allots an individual $4.50 a day, the national average a SNAP participant receives, to sustain themselves. I could try and understand how hard it was to be under a restriction of what you cannot eat, eat nutritiously, avoid hunger, and remained satisfied and satiated, and menu planning, but actually living it was another feat. I could go on a rant about the SNAP program, how it could be improved, and be critical of our systems that have placed so many dependent upon the program, but that’s another post.


I bought way too much rice+beans, no cheese (my weakness), and was being too budget-conscious, so I ended up eating beans and rice for almost 4 days. Not fun. I failed.

Two weekends were spent back to back on the NC coast celebrating bride-to-be’s with bachelorette weekends and another for a bridal shower! So fun!

OctNoelfiesta.jpg wilmington.jpg


NC’s bounty!! Muscadines and pecans from Eastern NC, figs from Aunt Kathy’s backyard, and watermelon from Anna’s garden. Love a good summer spread!


The first wedding of two was finally here and it went so well! Beautiful bride. Beautiful flowers. Good food. Good music. Good friends and family.

Grad school was still going strong and I had been assigned two lit reviews around the same time. I’d never written a lit review before and was stressed. I had a bit going on and one wedding still to go! I was honored to take on a leadership role within my church and am still humbled at the fact that I was even considered and then chosen.

The last of summer’s and the start of fall’s bounty was upon us. Part of my duties at Meredith College was to grow produce for and help operate the Meredith Supported Agriculture program (MSA), much like a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. We delivered produce baskets throughout the whole season!

IMG_7083.JPG IMG_7082.JPG

I had my first chance to give a lecture in an Introduction to Nutrition class on one of my favorite subjects- The Food Supply! I had the chance to expose students, if they hadn’t been already, to what goes into growing food and getting it to our plates. I showed the class a video from a farmer friend and producer in our state that grows sweet potatoes for a NC grocery chain that was very relevant to them. Food insecurity, food waste, and local food were all mentioned and I hope reality of those subjects stuck with a few and maybe even empowers them to act!

I started my first lit review with the topic of food waste within the school meal programs. Conclusion: There is a hefty cost associated with food waste in the National School Lunch Program, a program that is tightly operated and does not have much money to spare. Innovative ways of increasing consumption of meals in school children are being used like naming veggies “Mighty Meatballs,” “Super Carrots,” “Outrageous Oranges,” cutting or peeling fruits and veggies for easier consumption, and placing recess before lunch but more research needs to be done.

My second lit review focused on vitamin D status in pregnant and lactating women. Conclusion: Vitamin D “deficiency”, “insufficiency”, and “adequacy” are not clearly defined in the literature. Americans, especially pregnant and lactating women, could use some more vitamin D to improve health outcomes.

October 24th is Food Day and my MSN program volunteered as a group with Inter Faith Food Shuttle!

We took our annual church retreat to the North Carolina mountains for fellowship and fun and returned with apples galore! I came right back and roasted apple chicken sausage, sweet potatoes, onions, and apples for a yummy lunch the rest of the week! Definitely one of my favorite fall meals.


I celebrated another year of life with my 23rd birthday, attended my first Cornhuskin’ as a Meredith College alumna, celebrated Tyler and I’s SIX YEAR ANNIVERSARY (whaaaat), and the second wedding! The wedding turned out BEAUTIFUL and was so so much fun!

Noel.JPG Foraged chinese privet greens and berries from Raleigh, NC.








I started my second Cooking Matters class. I knew it was a lot to take on but this class was being held near my hometown at the local senior center with the other instructor being a friend of mine. I couldn’t give up this opportunity, it would be so fun! It was, and I’m so glad I signed up.

We ended the season on our sixth week of MSA distributions and in total grew and distributed 114 pounds of produce to the staff and faculty of Meredith College! Yay!! I’m pretty proud of that. When a survey was sent out to everyone who participated, almost half of the respondents answered that they had increased their vegetable consumption and had been exposed to new types of vegetables while over half felt more confident in preparing vegetables. THAT is awesome!!! *happy dance*

Thanksgiving was a time of overwhelming thankfulness for my life and those in it. At that moment, I was so aware of all my blessings- (1) I had three houses to visit that day, because of my huge blended family, (2) my college friends were still being so intentional about keeping up with each other, (3) I had lots of yummy foods to choose from, (4) I had time to relax and not do anything school work related…. oh, and the Caspers announced to us that a turkey wasn’t the only thing in the oven… Baby Casper will be arriving July 2018!!



The Cooking Matters class ended and was bittersweet. The class included 10 women over the age of 60 that were so motivated to learn and made concrete everything the curriculum taught. I love Cooking Matters and how it empowers people to have confidence in the kitchen.

I was able to fill in for my professor and lecture again in Introduction to Nutrition, this time on Breastfeeding and Lactation. I get all giddy when it comes to promoting moms breastfeeding babies! My hope was that those students left class wanting to support women that are breastfeeding, and if they have the choice one day, to breastfeed their own babes.

I attended the North Carolina Dietetics Association meeting in Durham, NC where the theme of meeting was sustainable food and the Registered Dietitian’s role in promoting local producers and disseminating fear around our food system.

IMG_7672 NCGT Center for Environmental Farming Systems representation at the NCDA meeting, woohoo!! And a mention of the North Carolina Growing Together program! I was a NCGT Apprentice in the summer of 2016 and loved it!

I finished my final exams feeling stressed but confident in myself.

I leave this year feeling thankful, humbled, and excited for the future. It was an exciting and eventful year and I’m sure 2018 will be also!

I leave this year feeling excited and loving my field of study. Food and talk of nutrition is all around us and fills our thoughts at least 2-3 times a day, people find joy in it, and people find pain in it. This year I was able to grow, cook, share, preserve, photograph, study, teach, and sell the thing that makes the world go round. Each day is different and I can’t wait for the future!






Repairing the World



Every day this summer I entered and exited these same double doors to the full-production kitchen at the Lowcountry Food Bank in Charleston, SC. Inside these doors is a kitchen full of volunteers, one head Chef, and one part-time foodservice employee working to produce roughly 7,000 meals a week to feed every one of the counties that make up the “lowcountry” of South Carolina. The meals produced out of this kitchen fall under many different government programs, may be part of a current pilot project, are made by the hands of volunteers, high-schoolers hoping to start their culinary career, dietetic interns, culinary interns and are funded by too many grants to name in one sitting. It’s chaos really, if you think about it, but somehow it all works.


I’ll admit that the phrase “repairing the world” above the kitchen entrance didn’t catch much of my attention when I started at the food bank, but now it is a daily phrase that runs through my head. I didn’t truly understand what it meant until I knew more about how the kitchen came to be. This kitchen was funded only a few years ago by philanthropist and business woman Anita Zucker. “tikkum olam” directly translates from Hebrew to “repair of the world.” Thus, we get our English phrase.

After some research, I found that Zucker and her husband were both of strong Jewish descent- Anita was the child of Holocaust survivors!-  and that they both led a life of sharing their wealth with worthy causes. “Repairing the world” or “tikkum olam” calls one to act for social justice.

As the summer went on, my eyes were open wider to just how our world and its systems are broken. Our food system is broken. All people do not have equal access to food. All people do not have equal access to food. Adequate nutrition cannot be met by all. All people do not enjoy the experience of cooking or eating. Families have to rely on government programs for sustenance. Not everyone has transportation. Health is not a priority, even if it was, it is SO hard to achieve for SO many. I could go on. It’s just not fair. Things are broken. 

We recognize that something is going wrong in our food system and with our people and that even our most vulnerable populations (children, seniors) aren’t getting the food they need to live happy and healthy lives. There’s a human instinct we have to act and pull our forces together for good if we see another hurting/struggling. That’s exactly what the role of a food bank has taken on.

At some point while working at the food bank, I looked outside of my situation and saw the food bank for what it was or what it seemed like to me. I began to see other social justice organizations in the same metaphorical way.

Imagine a huge anthill, filled with thousands of ants, all hurriedly working together to achieve a common goal. Scrambling actually. Employees of these social service agencies like the food bank are like ants. Working together to fix something broken, solve problems, feed people right and left, make community partners, thinking of new and creative projects, fundraising, using their resources, and communicating with others and one another all to achieve a common goal. The scrambling of people and resources is the exact picture I had in my head. A little hectic.

I came to understand that this kitchen was doing more than allowing people to cook meals, but it was a tool in repairing our broken world. This kitchen allows this organization to serve healthy, balanced lunches to kids every day who might not have eaten a single fresh fruit or vegetable that day. THAT is important. This kitchen allows volunteers and retirees to do good with their free time. THAT is important. It employs people and stimulates the economy, also very important. It allows employees to have a meaningful and self-fulfilling career; one that they feel good doing.

The food bank and other organizations like it truly are “repairing the world” but they must be challenged to go about that repair smarter. We must get to the root of problems like food insecurity and address and break the cycle of poverty that is causing folks have a negative cascade of health events.


I challenge you to look critically at the organizations you volunteer in, own, worship at and support. Are they putting a band-aid on the problem they are addressing or are they bringing to forefront the underlying factors?


In the meantime, enjoy this picture of some cute kids eating (they ate it ALL!!!) balanced lunches prepared by the Lowcountry Food Bank and reimbursed by the USDA SFSP Program.




How YOU Can Strengthen Our Local Food System


Supporting local producers is more than being trendy and being able to use #local on your social media posts… It means that you are helping to support families that worked hard to bring you that product and also the local economy. It’s a win-win really. You (consumer) benefits from the locally made product or freshly harvested food, and the producer benefits from the sale. Yay!

Local food economies need to be strengthened and accessed more often.

We consumers have been spoiled with readily available and diverse foods from the aisles of our grocery stores and often stray away from planning or consuming a diet consisting of seasonal food sources that come from our local area. Consuming a seasonal and local diet by way of, let’s say, shopping at a farmer’s market or by growing your own food at home is beneficial to not only you but the food system surrounding you. By doing these things, you are becoming less dependent on the market madness that goes on behind the scenes that brings you your food.

Our food system works very very hard to ensure that we consumers are buying safe and satisfying products, but is driven by consumer wants and does not prioritize sustainability.  For example, if we demand vast amounts of spinach, our food system will have it imported from overseas where it is grown heavily because the demand cannot be made by only U.S. grown spinach. The amount of time, effort, and energy put into growing, harvesting, packaging and transporting our precious spinach is devastating on our envrionment and causes much damage. By growing your own or purchasing a local product in place of imported spinach (kale, mustard, turnip..NC grows spinach too!) you get a fresher, more nutrient dense product that has a much smaller impact on the environment.

All of that being said, I have listed a few simple ways YOU can get involved in and strengthen our local food system and reap all the benefits that locally grown and produced products have to offer!

#1 Shop/ Buy Locally

Make it a point to purchase products from your local farmer’s market, farm stand, pick your owns (berries), artisans, produce stands, nurseries, etc. When you purchase from local producers, your money spent will most likely stay in the local economy. Thriving economy=happy people.

IMG_2291.JPG(Pope’s Strawberries- Knightdale, NC. Notice the volunteer corn sprouting up in the strawberry beds…ha! love it!)

#2 Volunteer Your Time/ Talents

Volunteer at your local farmer’s market! Every farmer’s market has a “market manager” that is key to the market’s success and trust me… they are overworked and could use your help. Even if it’s setting up tents or hanging up market advertisements throughout town you will be helping to strengthen your local food system and giving farmers and artisans more business. Enjoy taking pictures? Take pictures of the market/farm stand/ pick your own and post them to the establishment’s social media AND yours! Boom. Free marketing!

ww(These ladies set up under the Education booth and gave market customers samples and recipes of seasonal and local dishes. Yay, go college kids!)

#3 Grow Your Own

Take control of what you eat and start growing it. Start small, maybe growing a few herbs you use in your kitchen often, and continue to expand. Enjoy the struggles and rewards from your crop and realize the effort and energy needed to produce food. Buy your seeds or seedlings from your local, family-owned hardware store or business. Keep all profits local! DSCN0980

#5 Get Cooking!

Take those newly purchased, fresh fruits and veggies from the farmer’s market and make them into a meal or snack! Cooking is intimidating, and we consumers are loosing the drive and ability to put togeher raw ingredients to make a nutritious meal. Get in control of your health by preparing food for youself- slice up that zucchini or squash you bought and bring it to work alongside some hummus, ranch, dip, etc. Easy peasy!


#6 Start the Conversation

When dining or grocery shopping, look out for and even request items that are produced locally. Encourage others to shop locally by sharing the word through social media or by word of mouth. Research for yourself how food is raised, caught or made and how it ends up on your plate. Wherever you are, there are advocacy groups, associations, etc. supporting the local food movement and strengthening our local food system- check em’ out!





To Fork?


After having backspace-d this first post at least six times and put off writing for a good three months; I’m finally publishing something. My hopes in writing this blog are that I am held accountable, I try new things, I express my love for food, I become more passionate, I finish my ideas, I remember what’s important to me, I hear criticism, I form opinions and I grow as a person. I really do hope I stick to this blog long enough for you all to see all of those things happen. So at that, let’s begin!

The phrase “Farm to Table” or “Farm to Fork” is thrown around today when talking, mostly about restaurants, but also of homes that have a direct relationship with the locally grown food they are serving. When I hear “Farm to Table” or “Farm to Fork” I do tend to think of the snazzy restaurants downtown that are catering to the always-hip locavore who cares about where his or her food came from for purposes of quality and/or peace of mind. The journey of how a single piece of food reaches our forks or mouths is too complex to sum up in a single sentence. The journey of how a whole meal reaches our “forks” is even more complex than that. Imagine your favorite processed food from your choice of a local fast food joint. That item has, let’s say, ten ingredients in it (of course counting preservatives, additives, colors, dyes and you name it). Each item was grown and raised by different sources, different farmers, and each item requires a tremendous amount of energy, time, and work to be produced with not only the help of farmers but with the help of numerous manufacturing plants. The amount of energy put in to each single ingredient of your lovely item is so great that your item now will cost you an arm and a leg to purchase. But it doesn’t. Your item costs a relatively low price and you are temporarily satisfied. But why is that? Why is it that a single item that took so much energy to produce is cheaper than buying an item that required no altering whatsoever (raw fruits and veggies)? Now I don’t know all the details about who and how an item such as yours is made, and I haven’t made it a goal of mine to track down every hand that directly or indirectly contributes to your item, but I can say with certainty that it is more than thirty. At the least.

Next time you order your item(s), I hope you reflect on how many persons had a stake in your meal.

To Fork will explore all the different ways our food that sustains us ends up on our plates or “forks”  and what happens when that food gets there. I’ve been on a culinary kick lately (that hopefully won’t just be a kick) that I will share with you. I want to examine and work through the controversies of food and our food system. I want to explore the hands that are the root of our sustenance, our farmers, and also try to share my own attempts at growing edibles. I also can not guarantee that there won’t be a personal post every once in a while. 🙂

And at that, I thank you for reading and I hope you see me back here sometime soon!