From the Farm to Their Table - Anne Steinberg

Written by Urban Ecology Center
    Thursday, 06 March 2014
From the Farm to Their Table - Anne Steinberg

Sometimes changing one small thing can have a huge impact. Curiosity about where her food came from and who was growing it led Anne Steinberg from a passive consumer to a food activist. After participating in a course on sustainable living at the Urban Ecology Center (UEC) about nine years ago, Steinberg decided to try to change just one thing in her life to be more sustainable. She started buying fair trade coffee. Since it was easy enough to change what she was drinking, she decided to change what she was eating, so she became a member of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. Having a connection to where and how her food was grown opened her eyes to a food system she had not given much thought to before.

“I had no real connection to farming and what it was like because I’ve been a city dweller my whole life,” says Steinberg. “I guess I kind of idealized farmers without fully understanding some of the challenges they face in producing food.”

The more she learned about where her food came, the more interested she became. She started volunteering at the UEC’s Local Farmer Open House. “It was fun to get to know the farmers. I love getting the updates from my CSA about what is happening that week on their farm. I think it is a more wholesome way to live, to know where your food comes from. And I think it is very important to support these small farmers. I like that I’m able to build the kind of society I want to live just by making a conscious decision of where I’m buying food,” she says.

Steinberg noticed she was not alone in wanting to know more about how food is produced, so she gathered a group of friends and starting meeting at the UEC. The Friends of Real Food was formed in 2007. Steinberg co-facilitates the group with Jamie Ferschinger of the UEC. The group meets monthly to eat together and listen to a presentation about a different aspect of the food system. “There is a growing food movement in Milwaukee,” says Steinberg, “Our group enjoys learning together and eating together. It is nice of have a community to support you when you are trying something new.”

The Friends of Real Food have supported each other in activities like the “Eat Local Challenge” in late summer. This Challenge asks participants to be mindful of what they are consuming and to individually define their challenge and what eating locally means. The Local Farmer Open House is another special event on the Friends of Real Food activity calendar. “This event is really important for the farmers. They don’t have a lot of opportunities to meet with people in the city and let them know what their CSA has to offer,” says Steinberg. “It is another key step toward keeping these small farmers in business and ensuring we have access to food produced this way.”

Steinberg has also seen small impacts from her involvement with local food systems. “I take great pleasure in eating seasonally now. Before, being from Los Angeles, I wasn’t even familiar with root vegetables. Now I roast a lot of vegetables such as parsnips and rutabagas and like eating things that are hearty and warm in the colder months. I’ve also learned to put up food for the winter by canning and freezing,” she says.

2013 LFOH logoWant to get your food fresh from a CSA? Come to our Local Farmer Open House on Saturday, March 8th at our Riverside Park branch. Meet and sign up with farmers, learn how you can join a CSA farm (purchase a share of the harvest) and get a box of fresh produce each week during the season. Join us for this free event!

This blog post was written by Theresa Lins. Theresa is a Milwaukee-based writer and Urban Ecology Center “groupie”.  She has been active in promoting the Center and its programs for over 14 years.  Other than eating farm-fresh food, her favorite thing is to write about it and the people who produce it.


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