Updated: Jan 23
Before the idea of Outside In came to mind I was originally interested in creating a better way of life for my family. Food, flavor, and cooking are a passion of mine. One that I didn’t get to explore nearly as often as I had wanted to. Unless hosting a gathering of mostly adults, I was slightly limited to catering to the preferences and palates of my pack. A lot of times that meant that I couldn’t be too daring for fear of mutiny. Nonetheless, there is just something about cooking for others that I just love. From discovering and exploring new combinations to creating flavors and textures that even the pickiest of my crew could appreciate. The expanding of our usual fare and creation of new recipes or traditions to add to the repertoire gives me such great satisfaction. Food has the power to bring people together. Food is a common language to convey our diversity, our unique skills, our experiences, and our humanity. Food is communication. Food is love. The immense satisfaction felt from being the creator of that experience brings me such joy. For the record, I am no trained chef, but I do have skills. I am a lifelong learner and happy to add to them.
As the pandemic closures brought the world to a screeching halt it became very apparent to me that we were not at all prepared to deal with food scarcity. Our staples were flying off the shelves at an alarming rate. So I did what any cook would do, and I stocked up on the essentials. All I needed was a few of the basics - flour, eggs, milk, sugar, etc, and I could create almost all that we needed, aside from a few things. It was a complete eye opener and game changer. I became very interested in recreating our family favorites in our own kitchen. The experiment was a huge hit. We were eating healthier and smarter, all because of this need to be in control of our resources. I received very few complaints and I even got my kids in the kitchen to help more hands-on, and be my quality assurance. It was a win-win situation, and my family could enjoy delicious meals and snacks made from simpler and healthier ingredients while saving money on the expensive, not nearly as good or healthy, grocery store brands.
SOWING THE SEEDS FOR CHANGE
It just so happens I had simultaneously taken up gardening and caring for a multitude of plants over the summer as the days grew longer and brighter. I spent much of my days outside tending to new garden spaces identifying, weeding, and watering. Thus another new venture began. As I looked for more ways to expand my knowledge about plant life and growth, I found a new sense of commitment and urgency in becoming more green. We began looking at our household practices in energy and waste. It feels good to take ownership of our ecological footprint. As I began to reevaluate our impact I started growing herbs hydroponically. I love having fresh greens to use right from my kitchen window, and as a Gardenista I was amazed at the process of what we usually don’t see. The progression and rate of growth, the quality of the plants produced, the yields, and the ability to continue to grow in all seasons has had me totally bought in. There is nothing like biting into a fresh basil leaf or salad greens that you grew from start to finish. It was then that the seed had been planted that I could combine my two passions to sustain my family and perhaps make a little side hustle cash selling those creations I thought worth sharing. I knew my friends and family would appreciate seeing the process and also being the recipients of organic foods they watched as I grew.
"It was a win-win situation, and my family could enjoy delicious meals and snacks made from simpler and healthier ingredients while saving money on the expensive not nearly as good or healthy grocery store brands."
As I had before, I became more and more aware and passionate about the impact changes we made would have on my loved ones as well as our environment. It was exciting to think that I could somehow help facilitate that transformation. If I could do it, so could others. I wanted people to see the possibility. I have long been an advocate who has worked in community nonprofits thinking about the ways in which we can empower and strengthen one another. I naturally gravitated to reflecting more broadly about how this experience and enlightenment could inspire more families like mine. I was not, however, naive to the challenges faced when it comes to making this way of life possible. Food is life sustaining and unfortunately there are so many individuals who don’t have enough of this precious resource even in its simplest form. I knew that I couldn’t preach a message of social responsibility and frame the conversation as if there are not glaring disparities and barriers. I had to be part of the solution. That is why we are dedicated to creating pathways to accessibility to better food for all. As our operation grows we are committed to cultivating relationships that will foster practices and solutions that give our communities the knowledge and skills needed to create this change. Outside In is a movement.