"THE DAY IS COMING
WHEN A SINGLE CARROT,
WILL SET OFF A REVOLUTION."
That day is here
My journey to slow down, observe, and connect to food was sparked by creativity.
There was one negative 7 degree winter day in particular when I felt so lost it was as if I was spinning out of control. I took a drive to the middle of nowhere Minnesota, where I lived at the time. The frozen snow covered ground blended into an empty white sky.
The monotone landscape felt claustrophobic, bleak, and overwhelming. It was as if I was flying above myself to watch my life unfold in a direction that I didn’t desire. I felt completely ungrounded, stressed, and sick to my stomach. Tears streamed down my face as I grasped for answers that could bring me back to solid ground.
I so strongly wanted to feel happy, healthy, and aligned, but instead I felt completely stuck and confused. I didn’t get it! I was doing everything “right” by the books: I was exercising, and yet I still didn’t feel healthy. I was cooking at home, but I had lost complete connection with my body’s cues. It was as if I couldn’t even even hear my physical self anymore:
-I’d push myself too hard on a run when all my muscles really wanted was rest.
-I’d eat too much when all my body really wanted was a balanced meal.
-I’d have a beer when all my body really wanted was water.
I was so disconnected and couldn’t find my way back. When I returned home from that drive, I felt desperate to find balance, again. A voice popped into my head that said:
I sat down at my desk, opened up my computer, and pulled up an image of the first thing that came to mind:
I began to draw the corn, kernel by kernel. With each small piece, I felt my breath return to a steady pace, my anxiety subsided, and my tears stopped. This practice was so powerful that I still use it today to keep me grounded.
A creative practice devoted to food has been the best meditative, healing experience to reconnect with my personal sense of wellness and remember my place in this inextricably connected web of life.
This is why I started Prints & Plants in 2017:
to use art as a tool to help people deeply connect with food for a more meaningful, joyful life.
You see, creativity is an integral part of health because it balances consumption. When we consume information, we can use it to teach. When we consume food, we can use it as fuel to create good in the world.
I wasn't always aware of what I was consuming - I grew up in Oklahoma City where I had no idea where my food was coming from. Don't get me wrong - I loved to eat! - but I didn't give a thought to the path my food traveled before it landed on my plate.
But then I moved to Northfield, a small farming town in Minnesota, to study art, and my eyes opened to the beauty of locally grown produce. I started eating more veggies because of their mesmerizing colors and patterns which kick-started my journey to a healthier life full of deep connection. I wanted to share the joys of this connection with community.
I brought produce into the art studio to create works that asked viewers, "What happens when we give as much reverence to food as we do to art?"
My projects include a dining room table in a gallery where I hosted locally sourced meals for community; an installation of soil on museum pedestals with a framed carrot on a white gallery wall; a three-month winter residency devoted to garlic; and countless illustrations and prints exploring the patterns of produce - a practice I continue today.
When I moved to New Mexico in 2016 after dreaming of living here since I was a kid, I started working with farmers at the Santa Fe Farmers' Market. I now work on two farms north of the city: Ground Stone Farm and Wildharber Farm.
My work in the fields has given me a grounded, unshakeable joy. This joy makes me giddy to share the beauty of local food because I know the peace and happiness that comes from connecting with our plate, our land, and our farmers.
Photo courtesy: Genevieve Russell for Squash Blossom Local Food Inc.