Feed Your Senses is an illustrated book made to holistically communicate links between local food systems and cultural wellbeing. Food was the center of my household growing up; my mom’s love of food, cooking, and experimenting with flavors molded my palette from a young age. As I got older, I realized that everyone has a deeply personal relationship with their food - no matter what their upbringing. My developing interests in food took off when I started traveling and experiencing the uniqueness and vibrancy of food culture. Food became the object of every trip I took.
The summer after my Junior year, I studied abroad in Denmark and was given the opportunity to create my own research topic. My interest in Sustainability has always revolved around food, so I started thinking about ways that I could incorporate this interest with the geographical backdrop of Århus, Denmark. Food is a medium for so many uniquely human creations: celebrations, art, connection, and taste. Food is also a big driver of climate change, as the meat and agriculture industries account for more than half of all greenhouse gas emissions. However, I wanted to research more than food. I wanted to incorporate balance; a balance of local and global food systems, a balance of individual and community relationships, and a balance of science and art. I wanted to show how food is a driving force in achieving global sustainability and resilience.
After much contemplation, I began researching the connections between local food and community wellbeing in the city. I interviewed farm-to-table chefs, local farmers, farmer’s market vendors, street food vendors, and consumers on their relationships with food. The topic itself was flexible and open-ended enough so that each interviewee could relate it to their lives in a unique way. I loved the research so much that I decided to continue interviewing stakeholders in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Through the continuation of my research in Arizona, I was able to include a comparative element that offered a better perspective on the matter. I found that the history of the country itself has a significant influence on people’s mindsets and actions surrounding food and the environment. The common theme I heard from all interviewees, however, was their confidence in the power of food to unite people to one another and to the natural world.
I chose to create this illustrated book because my research experience was a whole and inseparable experience; it could never be fully expressed in words. I wanted my project to be an intellectual and visual map of my journey, inspiring the reader to go on a journey of their own. Therefore, I partnered with an undergraduate art student at Arizona State University, Sofia Reyes, to help create my vision. I shared my experiences, photos, and stories with her so that she could create the beautiful watercolor paintings that make the book so visually appealing and accessible to all demographics. The images act as a way of engaging all of our human senses, initiating a stronger connection to the material presented.
Creating this project was my favorite experience as an undergraduate, and I feel fortunate to be able to tell the stories of those intimately tied to the local food system. I am in the process of entering my book in various competitions including Writer’s Digest, Reader’s Favorites, The Food Sustainability Media Award, and The Indie Book Awards. I am also going on to publish the book through a small publishing company.