the calm after the storm: autumn 2013

Posted on: 18 Nov 2013

I can often be a whiner. But right now I’m feeling silent on that front, because the fall has been pretty amazing. I have had the incredible luck to be overwhelmingly busy with work, including reporting for two features that I’m actually excited about — big news for any freelancer. (Keep your eyes out for my byline, fingers crossed, in the New York Times Magazine and National Geographic.)

But I’ve also been privileged enough to be traveling to talk about The American Way of Eating and why having a frank conversation about food and class is important in today’s America. Here’s a quick recap below, mostly to give a shout out to the wonderful, generous people who’ve been hosting my writerly self all across the country (and generously helping me cover living expenses in the process)!

September saw me in Fort Collins, CO at Colorado State University. My co-hosts at Friends of the Poudre River Public Library – not to mention KUNC, the NPR affiliate, among others – were beyond generous, and even though the community had just faced devastating floods, they still managed to bring out a good crowd. (Special bonus: A whip-smart agricultural economist came to dinner, too!)

From there, I headed to Washington, DC to hang out with the crew from Togather and the Brooklyn Brewery Mash, which was essentially a three-day event series highlighting most of what I spent my twenties doing. (Bikes, found film and video, soul dance parties, beer.) In specific, I was treated to possibly the best-public-Q&A I’ve done, with the wonderful Nevin Martell. (I’m psyched to check out his new book, The Founding Farmers’ Cookbook.) Special bonus:  the delightful Meg Stemmler from Brooklyn Brewery peeped that longstanding KramerBooks had AWE on the employee-picks shelf. After a morning talk with some great students from the Center for Food Studies at American University, a visit arranged by the wonderful Garrett Graddy, I got to head home. Special thanks to the talented Rachel Dry for being a fabulous host.

Still more, you say? Yes. Still more. Cue October, when I hit the plains of Iowa.

There was a ramble around Iowa City with one Meredith Hines-Dochterman and family. (Heads up, travelers: The graham cracker ice cream at Whitey’s Ice Cream is uniquely delicious.) Then the loquacious and charming Sue Jordan from the University of Northern Iowa picked me up and ferried me off to Cedar Rapids, kicking things off with – I kid you not – a wonderful student performance of a great, original play based on The American Way of Eating, written and directed by the talented Matthew Weedman.  I had a couple days of a lively lecture schedule under the direction of Ms. Ms. Deirdre Heistad, and her staff at at the liberal arts program. Not only were Deedee and her staff  kind enough to pick AWE for the common read in their freshman cornerstone program, they are some of the best hosts I’ve had. (I’m probably a little prejudiced here: three days of getting to see my work made into a (great) dramatic performance and parade around like an important person likely skews my judgment.)

After delivering the Reaching for Higher Ground Keynote address in Cedar Rapids, there was one more stop: a day of talks in Iowa City as the guest of Will Jennings, who teaches in the rhetoric department at the University of Iowa, and who hosted a wonderful talk in the beautiful Congregational United Church downtown.

And then, swoosh, back to NYC before heading out on assignment that’s kept me away from home for the first half of November! Phew. Looking forward to seeing folks in NYC and Michigan as I make the holiday rounds — and spending the winter happily burrowed into my own place!

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