|Photo (Lexi Van de Walle): Long Island Lobster Gently Steamed. Served with Local Arugala and Grape Tomatoes|
|Photo (Lexi Van de Walle): Bee Advocate and Just Food Executive Director, Jacquie Berger, on the steps of City Hall with David Yassky, City Council member, for a press conference in support of legalizing beekeeping in New York City. June 23, 2009|
I am a food advocate and marketer/writer/chef/nutrition counselor based in Manhattan and Southampton, NY with an interest in culinary history, gardening and travel. I am also a wife and stepmother to teenage twins. I spent 25 years as an executive in the corporate world. Along the way I picked up chef and nutrition counseling certifications from Peter Kump’s Cooking School (now Institute of Culinary Education) and Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Several years ago, I decided to learn everything I could about local food systems.
In August 2008, I started the "Lighthearted Locavore" food blog and now have over 300 posts. This unique site features original recipes using local ingredients, showcases the farmers and fishermen of a region, addresses serious food policy issues (local, national and international), provides nutritional information, and culinary history. All of the writing on Lighthearted Locavore takes a food systems perspective with rich content about New York’s and Long Island’s agricultural and fishing industries, and the policies that impact farmers and fishermen. I speak with authority about small business, cooking, nutrition and food policy because I have run businesses, attended culinary school and developed over 100 recipes, counseled clients on diet and nutrition, and worked with government officials and leaders in food policy and at the local, national and international levels.
I’ve been a “Lighthearted Locavore” my whole life but never had a name for it. When I started the blog, New Oxford American Dictionary had already declared the word “locavore” the word of the year. I took it for granted that I learned how to cook when I was a little girl and there were strawberries, corn and Brussels spouts in our backyard. Our family outings included duck hunting and fishing on Long Island. During the growing season, what we didn’t grow or catch we bought at farm stands and the seafood shop. As an adult, I delight in a farmer’s harvest and the catch of the day (especially if it's lobster).
It was a fun challenge to come up with a blog name I was happy with. I fell in love with the idea of “lighthearted locavore”. The definition of “lighthearted” and “locavore” in Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary describes my blog and me perfectly:
- light·heart·ed: free from care, anxiety, or seriousness : happy-go-lucky
- lo·ca·vore: one who eats foods grown locally whenever possible
So many people don’t know how to cook. Or where their food comes from. When I write about and photograph farms and farmers' markets, fishermen and their catch, hunters and their game, restaurants and artisan food makers that cook with local food, and food policy in the New York region I feel like I’m sharing an important piece of myself with foodies, food advocates and budding chefs, old and young alike. I especially cherish the moments when I reach and influence a child. My husband and I love to cook with our children, visit farmers' markets, dine out, travel and go fishing.
When Lighthearted Locavore was first featured on The New York Times City Room Blogroll (under Arts & Entertainment) in early 2009, I was encouraged because clearly an editor at the newspaper thought my writing was worthy enough for The Times readers to have a permanent link to Lighthearted Locavore. I am motivated to keep up to date with my posts when I read traffic reports that show I have a loyal local audience as well as readers from as far away as New Zealand and India. People from all over the world read about my locavore adventures in New Orleans, Paris, Rome, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.
Not only am I a writer who strives to improve with every article, but also a researcher and educator. I have contributed pieces to national publications on topics ranging from the history of clarifying, my work with local officials to draft the first NYC Food Charter, and the Farmers Market Nutrition Program for low income mothers for the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Huffington Post, and Mother Earth News. I have been a guest speaker at the Slow Food East End Eat-in on child nutrition, University of Vermont Honor College on food systems, and the impact of advertising on children at the Politics of Food Conference at Columbia University. I spoke about the USDA farm bill and food pyramid for alumni of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and regularly present at The New School’s Food Studies Program on local food policy. As a member of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s Advisory Council on Food for the past two years, I am a co-author of two reports, including “Food NYC: A Blueprint for a Sustainable Food System” and “Food in the Public Interest”.
Over the last several years, I have volunteered dozens of hours for the non-profit Just Food and its tireless effort advocating for good healthy food in NYC and local farms and Food Systems NYC as a writer and strategist. Recently, I was invited to join The Culinary Trust’s Board of Trustees, the non-profit arm of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, where I will focus on providing culinary professionals with tools on critical issues in the food world with a focus on sustainability, food policy councils, and child nutrition. As a frequent contributor to FoodieLink, a community of foodies in New York City interested in healthy and delicious food, I hope to make New York a healthier place.
I definitely think I have what it takes to be a winner of the FoodBuzz Project Food Blog Contest. Thanks for supporting Lighthearted Locavore with your vote, and doing your part for a better food system.