Leading up to this year's Big Brain Awards, we're checking in with past winners. Up today: Natalie Morris.
Natalie Morris won her Big Brain award in 2010, before we had a culinary category. As our "wild card" category pick, her dedication to quality and sustainability of food, combined with her raw passion, made it clear that a culinary category had to be added in the future. Since her win, her dedication to education and the locavore lifestyle have spread roots from her Best Of award-winning website Good Food Finder to the MCC classrooms where she currently teaches.
What have you been up to since winning a Big Brain Award? I'm a project lover by nature, so I often find myself wearing many hats, but since winning the Big Brain Award, my biggest undertakings have been the development of my own business, Good Food Finder -- an online and statewide directory and resource guide of family farmers and food artisans in Arizona -- as well as becoming a professor in the Sustainable Food Systems program at Mesa Community College.
What's your next big project? My current goal is to continue to develop Good Food Finder as well as the Sustainable Food Systems program as a way to advocate for "good food". Both of those are education-based projects with consumer audiences and that have very similar core missions so I'm pretty fortunate that whatever task or event I take on can be tied or promoted through both. I'll be working with ASU this Fall to develop "Feast 2040", so definitely look for that as we move out of planning stages.
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Where do you see Phoenix a year from now? My hope for Phoenix is that we will stay (and expand) on the sustainable mission that Mayor Stanton and many of our other community advocates have put us on a path towards. I hope to see a focus on economies based on community, rather than on economies of scale, with recognition toward sustainable food systems and how much impact that has on the entirety of the system. Much of sustainability is community; if we as metro Phoenix can set an inclusive tone for the rest of our state, we can certainly begin to demolish the exclusive reputation that has been built for AZ across the nation.
Where do you see yourself a year from now? I'd still love to be teaching and advocating and I hope to be closer to deciding on where I'll be getting my Ph.D. in the next couple of years.
Nominations for this year's Big Brain Awards are closed. Check back in the coming weeks for profiles of this year's finalists and information about New Times' Artopia, an evening of art, drinks, food, and music, on Saturday, April 26. Tickets are $25.