Our mission at Foodtree is to connect people with great food. With this in mind we’re highlighting individuals and organizations we think do a fantastic job of contributing, promoting, building, and transforming the food system. We call them Food Advocates. Would you like to participate? Fill out our interview here and we’ll follow up!
Today we chat with Grace Boyle, blogger Grace(full) Plate and all around food lover who resides in Boulder, CO.
Tell us about yourself:
Georgraphically: I grew up in the Midwest, jumped off to college in Vermont, family all from the East Coast, has lived in Italy and Costa Rica, currently residing at the foot of the Rockies in Boulder, Colorado.
Loves: food, travel, my big/outrageous family, laughter, surprises, six degrees of separation, books, glossy magazines, giving hugs, eye contact and smiles with strangers and leaving my mind open like a parachute.
Basics: Italian/Irish with my Italian dual-citizenship. Big dreamer. Spontaneous. Jokester. Driven with two entrepreneurial parents. Grew up meditating and doing yoga in school since age 5 to high school graduation. Startup girl as the Director of Marketing and Sales at Kapost. Believes giving is living and lives by Hunter S. Thompson’s “”Buy the ticket, take the ride.”"
Tell us about your project/business:
Grace(full) Plate was launched in October 2010 because my life absolutely revolves around food. I have been blogging and working in the blogging/social media world since 2007 and felt I could marry my two interests.
I believe food is our common thread, it ties us together no matter our beliefs, life path, visions or location.
Grace(full) Plate covers “”culinary indulgence”" talking about recipes, local food news, restaurants and ideas in food. I happen to reside in Boulder, Colorado so I also started Facebook.com/BoulderFoodNews devoted to unbiased food news in Boulder County.
Has your relationship with food evolved over time? How?
Ironcially, I didn’t grow up cooking a lot. My mom used to lament that I was going to grow up without the “”skills”" every Italian woman should know. Yet I loved food. I grew up with my mom and dad, and my mom’s parents (my Nunnie and Popo) cooking most meals from scratch, with most of the produce coming straight from their organic gardens.
I’ve never had a microwave and my mom educated about GMO, genetic engineering and the importance of local/organic far before it was common. I called myself a consumer of food, not a creator of it (in those times growing up).
After college, I found Boulder’s local farm-to-table restaurant scene enticing. I dove into learning about the farmers, the production, the small food entrepreneurs, the restaurants, the chefs and the people who poured into the restaurants and farmers market everyday.
Now, I cook far more. I like trying new cuisines and have expanded my palette as I originally was raised vegetarian (still have never had a hamburger)! I believe that food can be indulgent, but it’s also important as it’s our fuel and sustains our health (e.g. don’t eat fried food everyday even though it’s SO good).
What is your earliest memory about food?
Every Christmas we drive 12 hours East, to West Virginia where my mom’s Italian family lives. We have big celebrations and Christmas Eve involves the Feast of the Seven Fishes with usually 40+ relatives (not even all of us.
It’s a long drive and at the end of it, we walk into my Nunnie and Popo’s kitchen and smell fresh garlic simmering in olive oil, homemade marinara sauce, spaghetti boiling in water, green beans and peppers from their garden sizzling in onions and the sound of their laughter and touch of their hugs.
That is one of my first food memories that sticks out to me. We always have the same meal when we arrive in their warm house they’ve lived in their whole life. Warms my heart just thinking about it. Food directly ties to family and love to me.
What’s most important to you when it comes to buying food – local, organic, fair trade, GMO-free, etc?
Knowing where the food came from. If you can directly connect with your farmer and know they only drove 1 mile from their farm to their Farmers Market stand or your CSA, it makes me feel good.
I would say I eat close to 100% organic and since I still like fruit in the winter and Colorado isn’t always producing a lot of it, it’s not always local but I like knowing my farmers, supporting their farm and organic food.
My mom has had the same farmer deliver food from his organic farm down the road from us for over 20 years. He’ll pick fresh asparagus, call my mom up and ask how much she wants. He brings it right to our door. I want to continue that tradition.
What is the one thing you’d like to see change about the food system?
I think there needs to be more customer education and awareness. I know that’s rather broad, but admittedly, there are things I wish I knew more about but I don’t know where to access it. There’s a big gap of people who don’t understand the food system, don’t see the issues and if they did or were educated around it, I could see them changing their buying habits, diet, etc.
What is special about food where you live? What’s one thing you would change?
Sometimes I wish we were in California weather where oranges could grow in my backyard year-round. Alas, we have four seasons and are lucky with all the sunshine we get daily. I love that there’s a passion for local here in Colorado and this isn’t just the likes of Hazel Dell Mushrooms farm but also the brands like Justin’s Nut Butter. I appreciate the heightened level of awareness here.
What are your favorite ingredients to use when preparing a meal?
Garlic, baby. It’s simple and can add that extra kick to almost any savory dish without over seasoning with something like salt.
I also rarely use butter and really love a quality olive oil or coconut oil.
What are your favorite foods?
Avocado, BBQ, asparagus, sushi, fresh corn on the cob, popcorn, (grew up in Iowa!), strawberries, gnocchi, green curry, peanut butter, and ALL kinds of cheese (specifically Humboldt Fog from Cypress Grove Chevre).
Not necessarily eaten all together :)
Other than food, what are you particularly excited about right now?
Good question – first thing that comes to mind is:
I love to read every night before I go to bed. I prefer my eyes to not be looking at a computer screen, particularly in bed. I’ve been gobbling up books and it excites me because I feel I’m perpetually learning and consuming this way.
I’m also excited about the work I do at my full-time job and on Grace(full) Plate. I love sharing knowledge around food, learning about new trends and understanding our local food economy.
Tell us about a food-related project that has inspired you:
There are A LOT.
I really like Kickstarter though and think it’s a great way to uncover ideas and people that are looking to expand and grow, particularly in food.
I recently learned of http://www.takethemameal.com/. It simplifies meal coordination for people in times of need (e.g. just had a baby, surgery, etc.). You can create a meal schedule, organize who is sending what, share easily, etc. I like the idea and am touched because it ties into giving back.
Where can people find you both online and offline?
I’m probably on every social site possible, but you can find me most active on:
My two blogs: http://gracefullplate.com + http://smallhandsbigideas.com
Twitter: @gracekboyle + food-specific @gracefullplate
Facebook: Facebook.com/Gracefullplate + Facebook.com/SmallHandsBigIdeas
Thanks for taking part in our Food Advocate series!