December 3, 2013

The Boulder, Colo., area has been a hub of the healthy, sustainable food movement for years, and part of the reason for that is the devotion certain local residents have shown to providing nutritious foods to people throughout the region and beyond.

Two women who make their home in the Boulder area – Ellen Feeney and Deborah Hage – have helped to set a standard for other residents who are looking to lead a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle. They also hope their efforts will inspire others who might be interested in sustainable sourcing practices, including those who have taken Colorado cooking classes.

Local sourcing important part of food future
Naturally Boulder is a nonprofit based in Colorado that has a mission of enhancing and nurturing the natural products industry. Feeney, its president, doesn’t just run the company, she is a vociferous advocate for the industry, especially when it comes to food production.

In a recent interview with the North Bay Business Journal that was conducted before she spoke at a food and agricultural conference in the San Francisco area, Feeney described some of the most important aspect of her business, as well as a few of the challenges natural products will face in the coming years.

Her two most important points of emphasis – consumer demand for more transparent food sourcing and collaboration among producers and sellers – are interconnected. By working together, farmers, ranchers, grocery store owners and chefs can more effectively tell the story of how food is made, which provides the kind of transparency many modern consumers cherish.

Feeding the needy
With the meals she regularly provides to area residents who are in need of assistance, Hage manages to take a different approach to solving some of the same issues Feeney attempts to deal with in her work. Hage provides a meal for dozens of local residents every Tuesday night and hands out bag lunches on Fridays. For each meal, she insists on making sure the products she uses are local, fresh and nutritious.

“It became really important to me that we start serving a meal that was healthy in all of its aspects, that we give families and children fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, fresh salad, fresh meat,” Hage told the Summit Daily, while also adding that many people have told her the dinner is their only opportunity to eat fresh produce.

Hage’s work shows how graduates of Boulder culinary courses can use their skills to help the underprivileged.