When did you know that you wanted to work in food?
Matt: My aha moment has been more of an evolvement than one specific moment. I grew up in a dairy town, spent a summer separating carrots on a carrot farm, worked at an organic food store in Melbourne, barista'ed at specialty coffee shops in Sydney, and WWOOFed on a couple of properties in Argentina. Through these experiences, and more, I always had an underlying love for good food and how it's grown.
There was a moment when Lindsey and I were working with my brother on his organic farm near Byron Bay, Australia, in May 2012. It was sunny, beautiful, peaceful and Lindsey had just leaned over to uproot for her first time a big, bright red radish. There was a twinkle in her eye and an expression on her face that she later confirmed as an "I get it" moment. She couldn't get over how fun harvesting vegetables could be.
Since that day we haven't strayed far from any path that isn't related to food. From tilling, weeding and composting rows of organic garlic in Byron Bay to working together at a coffee co-operative in Guatemala, over the last four years we have consistently traveled in search of good food and the people who are producing it.
How did you get your current good food job?
We are lucky enough to have had the opportunity to create our own job! Towards the end of summer 2013, after completing two workshops in Peru where we prepared the traditional Andean dish of Cuy (guinea pig) from slaughter to plate, and saw others' "aha moments," we began discussing how much people seemed to enjoy learning in depth about the food they eat. We saw an opportunity to make it our job to take people to the origins of various foods, exploring the processes, systems and impacts involved in producing what we eat and drink. And so Origins of Food was born.
How did your previous work or life experience prepare you for a good food job?
Matt: It feels very much like life has been preparing us for this business all along. My parents tried to get me into the garden as a child without much success but they did manage to instill a respect and reverence for the environment and for what we put into our bodies which I still carry with me today. We had a vegetable garden in our backyard complete with ducks and a few fruit trees and I have fond memories of my mom jarring and canning surplus produce. At the time, I didn't realize not every family did this!
Lindsey: My parents have both traveled extensively and when I started traveling on my own, they would recommend very specific restaurants and foods to eat wherever I went (i.e.: fried Jerusalem artichokes in the Jewish part of Rome, roast suckling pig in the restaurant across from the aqueduct in Segovia, Spain or chirimoya pie at the Haiti Cafe in Lima). I then followed my own path from suburbia to city-life to rural wine-hand, and found combining my previous corporate marketing experience with my passion for food and travel just made sense.
Between us, we have been farmers, wine educators, baristas, volunteers, kitchen-hands, dishwashers, food promoters, farmer's market vendors, in-store demonstrators and coffee cuppers. Our experiences have given us a thorough and holistic view of the food industry and how it works. We aim to use the combination of all this knowledge to provide interesting, educational and delicious tours both domestically and internationally.
What was the greatest obstacle you had to overcome in pursuing your Good Food Job dream?
Matt: I think we always understood that starting our own business would be difficult. For a time, I dropped out of being a principal part of the business. I think it was nerves and doubt about my own abilities that caused me to think I didn't have what it takes to run a business, but Lindsey never expressed anything but complete confidence and eventually I came back around to the idea of running Origins of Food alongside her. The beauty of our relationship means that we can support each other both professionally and emotionally, always encouraging the other to take another step forward.
Lindsey: It took us over a year to actually get the courage to put the website together and launch the pilot program. But we realized we just need to do it. Put the idea out there and see who's interested. In the last two years, we ran seven backpacking-volunteer trips together with our previous job and we found we work together quite well - Matt's easy-going nature balances with the efficiency and organizational skills I picked up in my office jobs. Our cohesiveness helped solidify our idea and business plan.
What can you identify as the greatest opportunities in food right now?
Matt: The food revolution has begun! Never before has there been such a concentration of people concerned about ethically sourced products, local food, organics and home gardening. It definitely feels like the right time to be involved in the food industry. As the need for sustainability and responsibility in all industries becomes more and more urgent, I can only see this phenomenon growing. For now we still have choice, we can still decide how we will use our purchasing power or free time, but I see this as changing from choice to necessity over time. It seems appropriate and beneficial to be immersed in the food world during this transition, to continue educating people on where food comes, encourage more home-production and conscientious consumption.
If you could be compensated for your work with something other than money, what would it be?
Matt: Both Lindsey and I worked at a farmer's market where often the vendors would swap their goods in a non-official barter system. It worked wonderfully. If this could function on a larger scale I believe the world would be a far healthier and peaceful place. I would be more than happy to receive produce or products for my services if that was offered as a possibility.