“Food is the source of energy and the food that comes into your body directly influences you, nutritionally and emotionally,” responded 22-year-old Katelin Davis when asked why she cares about the food she eats. She is a firm believer that the energy she consumes affects her well-being, and for this reason she tries to eat only what she considers “happy food.”
Katelin’s definition of “happy food” is produce grown on soil that is not degraded, on a farm that promotes biodiversity and does not pump pesticides into the soil. She believes that food carries the energy with which it was produced, so it is important to consume food that was grown with respect for the land and the farmer.
While she tries to eat primarily organically, sustainably, and locally, she says that local is the most important to her because she believes you can build a community by supporting local producers and frequenting the community farmer’s market.
As a student of the University of Michigan’s Program in the Environment, Katelin is very conscious of the impacts of her consumption habits, and this ties in directly to the decisions she makes about what she eats. “It’s about education and being a conscious eater and buyer,” she says, and believes that people’s habits would be changed if people were educated on the topic. From her perspective, the industrial food system is extremely hidden, but it is every person’s responsibility to educate themselves on the food they are eating.
Nothing is more important to Katelin than eating—to her, it is a community builder, a source of business, and a source of pleasure. “Nothing can bring people together like eating happy food, sharing local beer and wine, and cooking together. People will be intrinsically pulled by good food and drink because of the positive feelings attached.”
Katelin’s passion for food was strengthened by her experience last year maintaining a garden with her dad. Together, they tore out the grass and planted herbs, kale, cherry and heirloom tomatoes, chard, and marigolds in raised beds. They frequented the farmer’s market and the botanical garden for plants, and she quickly became obsessed with gardening. “I loved being surrounded by it,” she said. “I felt like it was my little oasis. I began to value my food so much more and developed a whole different sense of food.” She describes her relationship to the produce from her garden as a partnership. “I was taking care of it and it was taking care of me,” she reflects.
This winter, Katelin applied for a grant from the University of Michigan Ginsberg Center to start a community garden, which will be located at Hill and Division outside of Outdoor Adventures. She plans to give a lot of the produce to Outdoor Adventures for their trips and wants to have a booth at the farmer’s market with produce and crafts. She is graduating this spring with a concentration in “sacred relationships with plants” (yes, she made it up), and plans to pursue edible landscaping and sustainable agriculture in the future.