Food Travel: Maker Style

Authentic, local, food has always been central to my favorite travel experiences. These days, authenticity is very hard to find.

Farmers and food makers are the original Makers, though the growing Maker Movement has been mostly applied to tech, crafts, and engineering DIY. The prime showcase for this movement, Maker Faire, is coming to New York City this September and boasted 120,000 participants in San Francisco last year. I’ve been thinking a lot about traveling to meet the Makers—specifically around food. In the age of transparency, we demand information about what’s in our food, where it comes from, and how it was grown or raised—farm-to-table restaurants are everywhere. Hotels and restaurants are growing their own food, even keeping bees and making their own honey. This isn’t exactly a new movement—pioneers like Alice Waters (Chez Panisse) and Dan Barber (Blue Hill) have been doing this for years. Now that we’re aware of where our food is coming from and how it’s made, traveling to the source and sharing the experience is actually new again. I recently stayed at a little inn in Paso Robles where breakfast was made from the food that was grown on the property. We ate family style with a bunch of cool strangers. I loved it—and it made me want more of these kinds of travel experiences. Think your very own Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown.

Authentic, local, food has always been central to my favorite travel experiences. These days, authenticity is very hard to find. When I had the opportunity to visit a close friend who recently made the move from Los Angeles to upstate New York to manage a farm, I just went. I’ve never really done that kind of travel before. I’ve stayed on farms, yes, but this would give me the opportunity to spend quality time with a great friend who knows a crazy amount about food and farming and sustainability and actually make a meal with the food that she grew and animals that her partner raised. They have a huge vegetable garden, chickens (and eggs), and they raise cows for their beef (100% grass fed, of course). It doesn’t get more sustainable than that. No mega resorts, no cruise ships in sight, no faking.

We had an incredible meal. Almost all of it was picked that day. I learned a ton about organic farming and raising animals and what fresh really tastes like. These young farmers (often dubbed "back-to-the-landers") are at the core of the Maker Movement—these original Makers are literally self-sustaining. As the farmers continue to share, collaborate, and innovate their "making," farms may join vineyards, ranches, and wineries in the ranks of must-visit destinations.

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Lauren Gropper is the Creative Braintrust Sustainability Expert and CEO of Repurpose, Inc.

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