What is your new year for?

by Brittany Grace

Exactly one year ago, I was freezing my ass off with friends on Jekyll Island, getting ready for my 4th semester of grad school, and wondering what the hell I was really doing with my time.

Fast forward a year – a year that included hiatus from school, resignation from a job, the starting of other jobs, an 8-day adventure out west, the construction of 2 gardens, multiple weddings, sicknesses, camping trips, farming excursions, and the birth of a business. I feel more nervous and excited than I was freshman year in college. When I think about buying an old ice cream truck, making it run on biodiesel, and traipsing around the city offering up jars of goodness, I get a bit dizzy and lightheaded. Did I really trade in the prospect of an academic career for a spontaneous, risky, rewarding, all-hours, tenure-less life in mobile, local food?

I did.

Last year, I learned much that helped me be a more astute human being, omnivore, and business owner.

I learned that reading books regarding sustainable, ethical eating and gardening is just the beginning of doing your research.

I learned rototilling is bad for your soil, and that soil, like a good trifle, has layers that should not be disturbed (until it’s time to eat from them).

I learned  if I do not know how the meat on my plate was raised, killed, and processed, then I am doing my body and mind a huge disservice. (I do not want to eat anything that, upon observing its life and death, would make me extremely sick to my stomach. I have discovered through research and observation that if you are not aware of where and how you got the meat you eat, you are most likely eating something that lived a life in ghastly conditions resembling a concentration camp, with the addition of antibiotics and hormones).

I learned first hand that Quality Beef in Texas consists of cows that are kept in crowded, sludge brown pens so filthy and overpopulated that the nauseating stench of the “farm” can be detected miles away while driving in a car on the interstate.

Image from Mark Bittman's 2008 NY Times article, Rethinking the Meat Guzzler

I learned a week-long vacation in the summer will lead to a week-long untended garden that resembles the Amazon.

I learned if you make your work and your passions inextricable, the odds for happiness are in your favor.

I learned eating seasonally and locally takes a lot of conscientious decision making and carefully planned shopping trips.

East Atlanta Village Farmers Market

I learned farmers markets are gold mines of information, and people who work at these markets are more than eager to dole out their precious wisdom on food and land to anyone interested.

I learned raising chickens requires tenacity and alertness.

I learned that when you share your knowledge about something that almost everyone loves – like food – people listen, and want to know more.

So, this is the year of working overtime and creating good food. Renting commissaries and buying food trucks (this month)! Learning the pros of biodiesel. Educating locals about food choices. Delivering lunch to hungry people in food deserts. Making a website work efficiently (this week). Writing blog posts that inspire and motivate readers. Aquiring investors. Raising money on Kickstarter (this spring). Being a successful business owner. Being a consistent Farm to School advocate.

This is the year of running a sustainable business that helps others enjoy choosing and eating good food.

What is your new year for?