Thursday, October 6, 2011

What the Heck Are You Doing?

If you've been wondering what the hell I'm up to when I go weeks without making a blog post, you're not alone. My parents ask me similar questions all the time. Not because they're actually reading this blog. They're not. But, because they are very, very concerned about how I'm actually earning an income. Here's a sample phone conversation:

Dad: Well, hello...we haven't heard from you in a while. What have you been up to? Why hasn't there been a Melissa@Market piece on Zomppa recently?

Me: Now that the season is winding down, we are only running those a couple of times a month. But, I have a Food Fighters piece coming out every other week instead!

Dad: Hmm. Well, we're not really interested in those.

Me: oh.

Dad: What else have you been doing?

Me: Teaching classes, traveling, writing.

Dad: Do you get PAID for any of this stuff??

So, anyhow. I'm not sure if you've been wondering where I've been hiding because you're actually *interested* in what I'm learning and writing about or if you're just nosy as to how I survive on a day-to-day basis. My dad wants to makes sure I'm (a) alive and (b) supporting myself (legally). If those are your priorities also, then you can quit reading now. Here's a pretty picture for you to leave on:

Gorgeous mural from my last Philly trip

Actually curious on how I've filled the last 2 1/2 weeks? Here's a brief recap that I'll hit more in depth soon. (I know, I know...I say that a lot. Just trust I have good notes and an *excellent* memory.)

  • Attended the Philabundance Hunger Symposium.  We all already know I've got it bad for Philabundance, but the conference was seriously one of the best 1/2 day events I've ever attended. It was jam-packed with energy, innovation and knowledge. Mari Gallagher spoke about her research on food deserts and Joel Berg gave a rousing anti-hunger speech. And that was just the last 1 1/2 hours. Must find a way to condense soon.
  • Spent a lovely evening at Talula's Garden. The company was unbeatable even if the food was a bit uneven.

  •  Traveled to Chicago. But only after being held hostage in the Philly airport by United Airlines for almost 9 hours. Managed to run into both Joe Theissman and Michael Jordan though, so things were not all bad.

This view from my Chicago hotel room did not suck
  • Visited with the kind and generous Kevin Pierce of The Resource Center. The Resource Center in Chicago runs a variety of projects aimed at connecting individuals and businesses, creating equality and evening the food supply. 

  • Spent an evening with a dear friend eating at the sleek pub The Gage on Michigan Ave. 

  • An early start to check out a couple of local farmer's market including the large Green City Market at Lincoln Park. 
  • A morning tour of one of Growing Power's farms in inner city Chicago where I learned about their upcoming hydroponic project and saw their compost worms in action.

  • Brunch at Rick Bayless's Frontera Grill where I scarfed down this wonderfulness.

  • Attended City Farm's (a division of The Resource Center) Urban Harvest Festival where I saw some of the most gorgeous produce I've ever seen in an urban farm. 

  • Back in DC, tried out a new class with Academy of Hope that I call "One Method, Many Meals". Basically, it involves sauteing protein and veggies and combining them with various Latin, Asian, Italian flavors plus how to turn this knife and fork dish into a soup or frittata. All meals are under $5/serving and feature readily available ingredients. More on that later.

  • Attended the National Food Policy Conference at the Capital Hilton and enjoyed hearing panels on everything from global hunger to nutrition education to the Philadelphia healthy foods initiative. A really solid day of information.  
And that's why my brain is about to explode. Stay tuned.