Austin’s Food Trucks: Stronger Together

I found myself buying a last minute ticket to Austin after our first official food truck season had come to a close. The selling points were visiting some friends, a break from Debbie (my truck), and sunshine.

That was how little I knew about Austin. Grant it, I got the friendship part right. But what I didn’t expect was how much inspiration I would garner from the food truck scene in Austin, Debbie was almost constantly on my mind. My trip away quickly became a business trip where I dedicated most of my time to following my stomach on a tour around the city, stopping to look closely at truck menus, their set-up, eat their food, and occasionally talk to their owner’s.

First up was Veracruz All Natural. A kitchen on a school bus, serving up delicious breakfast tacos, including Austin’s favorite Migas. The beauty of Migas is that it takes day-old tortillas, mixes them with eggs, and BOOM! You have a brand new, delicious, breakfast meal! I am always thinking about how to reduce food waste, and I think recipes that can take something a day old and make it sparkling new, is utter genius. One of my favorite cook books, Prune, dedicates an entire section of the cookbook to demystifying how to use products that might otherwise be waste. In addition to recycling tortillas, Veracruz is set up on a used school bus. The ultimate dream. When I originally got started with shopping for a truck to build out I looked for a school bus. My interest in having an education component for the business mission made a school bus seem like the perfect fit. I quickly found out that it violated the size limit for trucks in Maryland, but was brought back to my initial day dreams while eyeing the awesome kitchen on the Veracruz bus.

Next up was East Side King. The East Side King has expanded to several trucks and brick and mortar, so their hustle alone is inspiring. I went to the original location tucked discreetly behind The Liberty, a dive bar with an open patio in the back. A lot of bars in Austin have open air patios in the back, creating a symbiotic working relationship with trucks. If a dive bar can find an influential truck to change the game, and a truck can find ample room with private picnic tables and a constant stream of people- that’s a win-win. This model doesn’t quite work for Baltimore, since it’s not an ‘al fresco’ city. But it did get me thinking about the collaborations trucks have with local breweries like Union and Monument. My heart also sang for their beet homefries. You know a girl swoons when she’s sees someone taking an unpopular vegetable and making something delicious with it.

It wouldn’t be a trip to Austin without a stop at one BBQ joint. We went to Micklethwait Craft Meats. They are on a stand alone lot, with three trailers hitched together like a train. One for service, and two to contain their enormous smokers. Their meats fell off the bone, and their sides were tweaked ever so slightly from the classics to make your mouth giggle with delight. There was a liquor store a block over, and while they couldn’t serve drinks, you could BYOB, taking this casual sit down picnic to an eatery you could really linger at.

Last, and by no means least was Patrizi’s. A true Italian restaurant featuring homemade pasta, local ingredients, and baseball sized meatballs. I spent the most time at Patrizi’s, as the owner and manager were both around to generously give me a behind the scenes tour and swap stories about our relative experiences. Their homestyle eatery and emphasis on slow food were really inspiring and refreshing, seeing as in Baltimore it would seem to be a business flaw to slow your street food down to take more than five minutes. They talked about how their boom in popularity caused wait times of up to an hour and how they remedied that in their business, since speed is a constant concern on wheels (whether you’re mobile or not). They also had a Front of House person, and I don’t just mean a friendly face in the window to take your order. They had one person dedicated to talking you through the menu, explaining Italian words that might be over your head, helping you to make the best choice- and then they brought you your food to your picnic table. This truck was drawing outside the lines, and I was into it. Why put “food trucks” in one box, we don’t treat brick and mortar all the same?

A few weeks ago a friend sent me an article titled “No Longer Trendy, Food Trucks Facing Declining Revenue Find Ways to Survive”. And arguably it’s true, food trends ebb and flow, trendy donuts chomped on cupcakes, as pop-ups have gobbled up trucks. While it could be argued that Baltimore is not nearly as saturated as D.C., or Austin, it is still important to keep a pulse on what is trendy. The surge in food truck popularity was largely influenced by the low initial investment and overhead cost, partnered with the classic “restaurant model” failing in our economy. While trucks trend out, Wilde Thyme is here to stay. The most impressive take away from my time in Austin was the teamwork. Whether it’s a truck partnering with a bar, a theater, or, like the image above, each other (in a fenced off lot with a stage, a garden, communal picnic tables!!), they have found one common way to survive in a saturated industry. Teamwork makes the dream work. We can’t sit pretty on the corner of S. Charles and Baltimore and think that things will always be the same. Because if there is one guarantee, it’s that they won’t be. We need to reach out to our neighbors, our industry brothers and sisters, our theaters, and our rec centers, and we need to talk about how our communal efforts will become the most sustainable trend the food industry, and our communities, have seen yet.

Holiday Party Thyme!

To our beautiful and supportive community,

A year ago on December 15th, 2016, I acquired Little Debbie, the food truck.

From December through March I was zipping around to “see a guy about a thing”; buying used equipment, trusting craigslist strangers to sell me things in good condition, touring auction houses and restaurant supply stores, spending copious amounts of time driving to and from an RV store, and recruiting my friends to taste test recipes and make art and magic and dreams in the empty truck. I was hardly alone throughout the building. Support from Cat (@naturallychefcat) and that Baltimore Chef Alliance helped put into perspective the shared experiences we were going through as different parts of the same Baltimore food scene, making me feel less alone from the very beginning.

From April through June I was navigating the health department. This was where the help from other food truck owners and small businesses, part time jobs, and old friends cheers, became essential to survival. The echoed warnings to not start a food business rung in my ears as I shuffled between government buildings. The line the first rule of food trucks is: don’t start a food truck, which had been told to me on multiple accounts, was stuck in my head as I sat impatiently in different waiting rooms for the right slips of paper.  But we painted the truck as though it was a community barn raising, and no one around me lost site. And in the spring Little Debbie budded into Wilde Thyme.

Then came dream team A, the first Wilde Thyme squad, and the steady hand of Wilde Thyme’s first season as we went live in Baltimore. I could write poetry about these women and it would fall somewhere between a hero’s ballad and a love letter. They witnessed soft openings, small fires, days where we sold food to five people, days where we served hundreds, our first festival, our second festival, our third festival, new specials, new produce, new farms, new partners, new systems, old mistakes, my tears, self care dates, new ideas, new art, and new neighborhoods.

As we head into our first winter with Wilde Thyme, I want to take time to celebrate all the hero’s that have contributed to this small business in its first year! Anyone who ate our food, anyone who cooked are food, anyone who grew our food, anyone who helped with advice, or offered a shoulder to cry on when it was hard, and anyone that took time to help me remember to celebrate the little triumphs along the way.

This city is built up of small businesses and creative makers, so if you find yourself wanting to celebrate the successes of your year, please join forces with us for our Holiday Party (aka Little Debbie’s Bday!):

holiday party thyme.jpg

Love,

Kiah

 

To St. John, with Love

When I first asked Josephine for a job she said no.

I waited a week and went back.

The second time I asked Josephine for a job, she looked me up and down and said, “can you squat?”. I responded “yes” without hesitation, thrown off by her frankness.

She put scissors in my hand and led me back to the farm. She told me to fill a bucket with greens.

So, I squatted down low, took my scissors and started trimming the greens that surrounded me; baby tat soi, baby bok choy, leafy greens, mustard greens, greens I’d never seen. It took me some time waddling around like a creature low to the ground trimming all the bounty that surrounded me to fill up the bucket, but when I did I turned to Josephine, bucket in hand and I asked her what was next.

She cackled loud! “I did not think a tall girl like you could squat! And you’re not too slow! I still want to make sure we make sense before I hire you, but for now you can fill another bucket”.

And so it was for the next 6 months, Josephine let me continue filling up buckets with her spectacular greens.

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 11.08.16 AM.png

Josephine is one of the most remarkable humans I’ve ever had the opportunity to work for. She is strong and smart and has spent almost every day for the last 30 years growing food on the little island of St. John. Josephine’s farm sits on one of the only wells on the island, making it possible for her to irrigate the only mass producing farm on St. John. She taught me how to grow microgreens, how to make kimchi with all the excess tatsoi, how to perfectly bag up greens so they didn’t get soggy, how to landscape pineapples, how to harvest sugar cane and lemon grass, how to put love into the food you’re growing, and then how to extend that love through an entire community regardless of the acknowledgement or appraisal.

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 11.01.37 AM.png

St. John was one of the most significant steps I took toward getting to where I am today. In addition to being witness to the extension of love through the food you grew, I was witness to a greek family with roots build and open a greek food truck called Little Olive.

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 11.12.44 AM.png

This family of four worked unbelievably hard to bring their family recipes to the locals and visitors of St. John. They used Josephine’s produce creating a symbiotic relationship between food, and people, and the little island. The experience I had of taking part in both farm and truck shaped a large amount of the ideology I have today that helps me navigate this new world of Wilde Thyme. I saw what was possible when a few people chose love as their navigating force to run their business, and the impact it could have.

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 11.08.33 AM.png

To St. John, to Josephine, and to the Little Olive family. You’re love is what will re-grow your St. John, and it will come back tenfold.

And to all the Baltimoreans reading this, consider donating to the hurricane relief through the St. John Community Foundation and St. John Rescue.

An additional article to read about Irma’s impact on St. John is here.

“Before Hurricane Irma hit the continental United States, it had already affected at least 100,000 Americans. Not tourists visiting islands. Just 100,000 Americans, living in America’s paradise, the United States Virgin Islands.”

 

Whitelock Community Farm

 

logo

Whitelock Community Farm got its start in 2010 as residents of Reservoir Hill converted a vacant lot into an active urban farm. Since then, the farm has been growing rapidly—both in scale and scope! We are thrilled to be able to serve Whitelock’s beautiful produce on the truck.

IMG_0046

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 10.16.03 AM.png

One of our team members is a neighbor and volunteer of the farm. Whitelock was the first farm we partnered with to do a farm volunteer day as a full staff with the intention of getting to know our farms and farmers on a more personal basis. It’s been easy getting to know Whitelock, they’re extremely engaged with the community and interested in sharing their wealth of knowledge.

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 10.18.16 AM.png

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 10.19.00 AM.png

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 10.18.39 AM.png

In addition to growing food, which feeds the neighborhood through their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, Mobile Market spots, and weekly farm stand, Whitelock also serves as open space for community events and a place where many come to learn more about growing and preserving food through volunteering, internships, the YouthWorks program, Farm Club, and community cooking classes and workshops.

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 10.17.37 AM.png

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 10.16.41 AM.png

The farm is located at 930 Whitelock St. in Reservoir Hill. If you’re in the neighborhood, you can also bring your kitchen scraps to the farm to be turned into compost! On Saturday, October 7, Whitelock is doing a book drive from 10am-1pm, and on Sunday, October 8 they are hosting their annual Harvest Festival from 12-4pm.

Coming up on Sunday, October 22, Wilde Thyme will be serving food at Whitelock during a Fall Fashion Clothing Swap!

You can learn more about this farm on the website: www.whitelockfarm.org or follow the farm on Instagram @ whitelockfarm. They also have regular volunteer hours, and it’s so fun to dig up sweet potatoes, so consider volunteering this fall!

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 10.21.13 AM.png

Upcoming Events:

  • September Potluck/Cookout – 9/27
  • October Book Drive – 10/7 (10-1)
  • Annual Harvest Festival – 10/8 (12-4)

cookofflrg.jpg

  • Fall Farm Fashion Swap – 10/26 with Wilde Thyme

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 10.15.38 AM.png

Brainstorming Notes from crEATe 4/23/17

Last night a group of local artists met to discuss how we envision art being mobile in Baltimore, and how can selling art from Wilde Thyme be beneficial to the artists, the food truck, and the community Wilde Thyme is in?

 

A lot of great ideas were generated from this brain storming session, and in order to include more artists and community members in continuing this discussion I wanted to present the ideas that circulated last night.

 

How do we envision art being mobile in Baltimore?

  • Playlists, music, speakers: Baltimore sounds, determining what people like based on location
  • A chalkboard drawing area, low enough for young people to reach it.
  • Hanging plants (planters and plants for sale)
  • Popping up between the architecture and engineering building of Morgan University to support students
  • Rotating art to be sold from the back of the truck
  • Mugs for sale with hot beverages during cold months
  • Having a “neighborhood hero” or “neighborhood artist” or that get’s highlighted every month with informations on their story on our community board. Similarly, having “student of the month” that gets a similar shout out from the truck`
  • Pop-up dominos tables for the sidewalk
  • Joining schools for different annual celebrations
  • Developing meals based around the community. Perhaps having week each month where people can submit their favorite recipes and then Wilde Thyme will do their best interpretation of it. This could also be developed into community cook books
  • Celebrating different urban farm events, or events in park spaces
  • Having local “Paper Plate Awards”, where folks get lavish paper plate awards for exceptional local successes
  • Musicians busking
  • Spoken word or open mic nights
  • Having a barter system set up where more then just money is excepted on certain days/times
  • Having a suggestion box, but also just a box for people to submit cute notes and art
  • Post secret/object drop off
  • Community games of “Telephone” or other games that build off of each other like “best game ever” (also known as “spanking yoda”)
  • Tiny Gallery, literally just a tiny gallery where a monthly artist is featured in a small way
  • A graffiti board (with structure), similar to the chalk area on the truck there could be a square reserved for adults to play around with communal ephemeral art on the truck
  • Popping up in front of furniture stores, to highlight displayed furniture but also offer a place to eat. Maybe Cedar and Cotton? *Spin off dialog: It would have to be NO SPILL FOOD!… What’s no spill food?… Carrot sticks!
  • Menu drawings: seasonal drawings that help people understand what is in each menu option, but also drawings can relate to the sentiment of the food item too (ie what, where, who does it remind you of?)
  • Menus with multiple language options +brail
  • Pages to color, like at restaurants, but possibly chalk outlines on the side walk, or menu drawings that could be printed out
  • Bring your dog to the truck day, possibly in conjunction with an animal shelter? We could have dog treats and water pales.
  • Creative merch, clothes more then t-shirts? Fanny packs? Pins?
  • T-shirts that you can color in
  • Working with vocational tech schools when the truck needs repairs
  • Free movies projected onto the side of the truck
  • Christmas lights ALL. OVER. THE. TRUCK. Let’s bidazzle it! GLITTER!
  • Maps of Baltimore: mapping Baltimore from the trucks point of view (ie what food is popular where, what art is popular where, where is the truck popping up?); mapping Baltimore from the customers view point (ie what does their neighborhood mean to them, what story can they tell?)…
  • Having “my first” pictures. Styled in the way that some restaurants take pictures when you eat their biggest and baddest sandwich, but instead just keeping a log of every time someone tries something they’ve never had, weather it be a tomato or a falafel or a…
  • —> fold this into a coffee table picture book to make your millions.
  • Side walk art classes: pop-up potter wheel, pop up model for drawing, pop up loom, pop-up…
  • Partnering with animal petting zoo, with the zoo, people were just really excited about the Drawing Zoo, but unclear what the health code options are with this one.
  • Basketball hoop with the trashcan under it (also there could be compost/information on composting too)…
  • Bring your own mug/plate discount (permitting greyness….)
  • Sell furniture, by having furniture out for people to sit in, sell spoons, by having spoons people want to eat with!
  • The Elsewhere Museum inspiration, if the shared space is changing and mobile, how can we build up the people to be what is solid and built upon?
  • ART THAT INVOLVES CUSTOMERS

If you’re interested in selling your art, or in partnering for a sidewalk performance/art workshop please fill out our Artist Application form here.

If you’re interested in joining the conversation or have additional feedback or want more information, please feel free to email the owner Kiah at wildethymebaltimore@gmail.com

crEATe

Dear Artists,

I admire the experiential approach to learning and have been thinking about all the ways people absorb the world around them-visually, through sound, reading, smells, tastes, touch. As readers of this blog know, I am starting a food truck and am curious about how a food truck can be more approachable to a wider audience. What draws people in? What holds people back from trying a food truck?  I’m interested in the idea of having hands on immersive experiences that complement one’s experience of eating at the truck.

One of the reasons I fell in love with cooking is because it is both universal, eating is something we all have to do, and incredibly diverse, in terms of flavors, techniques and what it says about culture. It’s a universally shared routine. I’ve farmed food, I’ve sold produce at markets, and I’ve taught cooking and gardening classes to youth. I thought a food truck could be a good tool for urban farms and community spaces, with ideas like cooking demos, take away recipes, and sampling and sharing of food knowledge, that could contribute to a shared experience in those communal spaces. I don’t like the idea of going into a community assuming there’s one type of food to fit one need- my approach with the food truck is more give and take, more flexibility and mobility, with rotating specials and the ability to move if needed.

In addition I want to share the business platform, I’d love for guest chefs to come in, and show off. I’d love to find other ways that a shop on wheels can benefit more folks in Baltimore.

When I was selling produce at markets my boss always said “we have to make food sexy”. Since then I’ve been obsessed with wearing food (a fried egg necklace, fruit prints etc.)… Wanting to talk about food with more people, influenced me to want to wear more food, which influenced an interest in making food accessories/art.

My mom’s an artists, as are lots of my close friends (although, honestly, I want to say everyone’s an artist in their own right). I’m curious to see if the truck platform will allow for a mobile, flexible art display (the Taharka Bros have done such an amazing job with a mobile book store). I see art as a way to start a conversation, to teach, and to share ideas and love across cultures; all things I see food doing too. I see art as another universal language, and I’d like to find ways the truck can help start a conversation.

Here are some ways that I envision artists being involved with the truck:

1) Small concessions:

I’m working on creating a small bookshelf or display area for bits of art and local products. I don’t imagine carrying anything of greater value than, let’s say, $30. So, things that could easily pop up and be sold (and help spread the word about where more of your creations can be found). Some ideas that could fit in a small display area could be:

  • prints/postcards
  • paper cuts
  • books (poetry, zines and more!)
  • pins
  • Patches
  • small wood works
  • small jewelry wares
  • soaps/body care products
  • pottery mugs or plant hangers
  • small fabric wares
  • small paper-maché things
  • photographs
  • cd’s

The list should go on, and I’m excited to see where it will go.

2) A rotating tarot-styled menu:

I am designing a tangible menu that will be laminated and held together on a ring. The idea is that, while you can certainly see what is for sale on the chalkboard menu or ask the folks in the truck, this will give another tangible way to interact. There are several inspirations around this. To start, I’ve always loved menus at diners that are covered in photographs and drawings and too much text. So in part, this is my homage to an old school classic.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about how people display their work. D. Watkins split the Beast Side into side a and side b like an old cassette tape. Anthony Bourdain split his book up into courses. And while my menu is not a book, I did want it to be a little different than your everyday menu.

Lastly I have been thinking a lot about the erasure of history through “fusion” foods. Because I learned how to cook mostly on farms, and in a Greek and a Mexican kitchen, I’ve been using those influences in creating my menu items. I’m wanting to create playful names for each item, but would like to include more text to explain where my influence is coming from and give credit where credit is due.

Here’s a visual of what I mean: Example Menu Taro CardI thought that this could be a way to rope local artists in.

The idea would be that you would take an hour to draw an image that is evoked by the food you are tasting or the name of the food. We could either sell versions of the drawings/prints as seasonal truck postcards in order to pay you for your work, or I would pay you for the hour of work and for your art. I am currently selling prints with the intention of covering the cost to pay artists for their seasonal menu drawings.  To learn more about the prints, please click here

If you would like to donate the first drawing that would be wonderful, although ideally I want to be making it mutually beneficial. If you want to wait a season to see how well it works, and join for the “eat and crEATe” party for our fall menu, that’s completely understandable!

Between breakfast, lunch and dinner I will need 10 drawings. Because I encourage you to draw based on what you’re tasting there will be a crEATe party on April 23rd at 6:30pm (location TBD, but somewhere in Baltimore). If you’re interested in selling your goods, drawing a menu item, or participating in a discussion about how art can be incorporated on the food truck, please message me. This will also be a wonderful opportunity for me to get feedback on my menu items!
Wilde Thyme is only going to get better with communal input and creativity. I want to thank Angela Carroll for inspiring the event to eat and create, it’s ideas like these that are going to help Wilde Thyme flourish.

It’s also her beautiful art that encourages me to keep going on the daily:

IMG_5751

the personal is professional

To all the trans women out marching amidst signs that center feminism around having a vagina, I see you, you matter, thank you. – Zaddy Zomme

I continue to digest the messages that I saw at the march. I want to hold onto the power and magic we saw in numbers of individuals showing joint leadership on an international scale. I want to listen and consume the messages that I neglected to consider. I want to continue to unlearn my socialized, oppressive tendencies.

My friend Sandy shared a message on Facebook in response to this image:

16114681_10154998041083993_197413981367841329_n

I was very heartened and inspired to see so many people picking up signs; I hope the energy continues!

I was disheartened to see people shutting down critiques of the march in the name of “unity” or “coming together” or “love.” If “coming together” means people of color and trans people have to set aside their concerns in order to fit with a pre-determined plan, we are re-creating the dynamics we intend to challenge.

My hope for myself and other white, straight, cis-gendered women is that we apply the same enthusiasm to our education as we do to marching, and when we discover our mistakes we don’t get defensive but rather are willing to repair them and learn from them. When we do that, we create a culture in which other people can learn, too, instead of continuing the problematic attitude that people are either “good” or “bad.” As this sign says, we are socialized to be oppressive, and all of us are on a journey of un-learning”                                                                                                                                 -Sandy Robson

On Friday January 20th, I hosted a dinner for friends and family that were marching. I put energy into creating a meal that would bring friends and family together. The menu was designed around playful puns that overlapped food with different representations of femininity and female leadership. However, my definition of what is female to me, is not a definition that can be shared across the diverse platform of women and those marching. The use and symbol of the cundt cake emphasizes that femininity and female are reliant on having a vagina. My interest in representing a vagina in my food was to challenge the discomfort that folks display in hearing the word or seeing images of vagina’s. While it was fun to decorate a cake with wavy frosted labia, I wanted to comment that the representation of a vagina as the symbol of female, was not inclusive, or my intention. It was a fraction of the diverse perspective of femininity.

I’ve been thinking a lot about messages to the public about the public. I think generalized messages tend to be innately incorrect or exclusive in some way. I find fault in my messages too, and am learning to correct my missteps.  

There are continually growing nuances in self expression making it hard to generalize an account of what is going on in America right now. In my experience as a privileged white, straight, cis-gendered, able-bodied woman, it is still extremely difficult to start a business. My interest in food business largely stems from the intersections food has with race, gender and class. While I love cooking and growing food, I am far more interested in using it as a focal point in bringing people together.

If along my journey to starting my business you notice that it is exclusive or inaccessible to you, please reach out to me. I will be doing work to make the space around my food truck an inclusive one through partnerships with communities and individuals that use it as a platform for their own self expression. The personal is professional. My fight against oppression is baked into my work and I’m looking to uplift together.

New Year, New Self… New Business?

I was really grateful to be asked to write a blog post for Start-up Soirée. When you’re starting a business a little goes a long way and the request to let me get some air time on the Start-up Soirée blog meant a lot. If you’re interested in keeping a pulse on local business in Baltimore you should tap into Start-up Soirée‘s resources. And if you’re interested in hearing my musings on how I’m juggling self care and business care as I head into a new year you should read my blog post!

What Can You Do in a Food Truck?

The freshly tuned up Little Debbie Truck has so much potential, a blank page, waiting to be filled in with kitchen equipment. But before embarking on the complete transition I wanted to see how others could think to use the space. I decided the best way to introduce Little Deb to Baltimore was to have a handful of my talented friends come out and show off what they could do in an empty truck. This video, What Can You Do in a Food Truck?, is the collaborative creation. It warms my heart to see people I love playing around in the future food truck, and I’m excited to continue to think of creative ways I can highlight Baltimore’s talented people and share the platform the truck provides.

Screen Shot 2017-01-03 at 9.05.31 AM.png

What Can You Do in a Food Truck?

Please continue to follow the journey of Little Debbie gone Wilde Thyme, to see what’s created!

Screen Shot 2017-01-03 at 9.07.19 AM.png

Screen Shot 2017-01-03 at 9.06.50 AM.pngScreen Shot 2017-01-03 at 9.08.13 AM.pngScreen Shot 2017-01-03 at 9.06.20 AM.png

But Food is Sexy

Who’s rooting for vegetables?

In 2014 I lived in Nashville, TN. I was working for a company called Good Food for Good People. The mission of the business was to improve access to good food throughout Nashville. We would set up local food markets in YMCA’s, churches, schools and hospitals; heavily trafficked community spaces. I tried my first kohlrabi on the job, fell in love with salad turnips that we would leave out as samples, and learned that you could eat raw sweet corn. Much of the market experience was spent talking to people about new vegetables and how to eat them. My boss had often said, “we have to make food sexy!” And I’ve felt strongly ever sense that he is right. Who’s rooting for vegetables to be big? With all the financial backing of sugar filled products, it’s hard to imagine anyone taking the time to advertise a salad turnip.

untitled-drawing-1

I think part of the way to make real food more approachable is by making it sexier. So how can we make food sexy? I think one way is to wear it. We make a choice everyday in what we wear and how we represent ourselves. For me, I want to talk about food. I want to talk about where is comes from, who is responsible for making it, where we can find it and why, what we like to eat, or what we’ve never tried before. I love the way that Laura Miller (@imlauramiller) photographs herself with food as her fashion statement. Here are a few examples:

She also has an instagram dedicated to Froobs (Fruit Boobs), that makes fruit comical and approachable in an entirely different way.

I started doing the #froobs thing on my instagram a few years ago as a funny little way to incorporate some fruit into a photo. But then I started doing some lopsided fruit. Some extra big, some extra small, some bruised and not-so-pretty ones. And then I started using the hashtag #allfroobsarebeautiful. I got such great comments and responses from women in a “yep I feel you girl” kind of way. Look, I’m not saying it was some big impactful movement, but it a nice little way of poking fun at the body insecurities that many of us deal with every day.” -Laura Miller

Here are some highlights from that:

You can also buy Froob shirts here!

For me, I try to pick up food accessories when and where I can. I have a dress covered in pickle jars, a necklace with an egg over easy, and orange slice earrings. All things I love to eat, all things I think are cool, and all things I want to advertise and talk about. If big companies aren’t going to advertise fruits and vegetables… why can’t we, in small ways, do it ourselves? Last spring, recognizing the lack of available food accessories, I started making hats with root vegetables on them. I’ve started to sell them to cover the cost of some of the donated events I’m doing to promote my business. 

img_6189

Me with the original hat, spring 2016, harvesting radishes.

If you’re interested in some food accessories, or want to support a local baltimore business, let me know and I can make you one!

Cause you’re sexy, and beets are sexy, and together we can make food sexy.

Some cute friends right here:

Image 1: Rebecca with her crooked/cute pup!; Image 2: I made a special native species hat for Gaby, who plants butterfly gardens in Curtis bay as part of her job as a community outreach coordinator for the Baltimore National Aquarium. She got some butterfly friendly milkweed and a black eyed Susan (native flowers are sexy too!

Image 3: Gwen, who works for the Baltimore Orchard Project, got a special custom pawpaw and apple hat. ; Image 4: The pawpaw and the apple up close! ; Image 5: Some local Baltimore advertisement for fruit!

Some cute hats right here: