What are you doing?

-This is a journey to share the magic of making yogurt and inspire a re-thinking of our connection to our food and local farmers.  In an attempt to connect Midwesterners to the raw materials and community networks that already exist in the region, I am traveling through the Midwest (current plans include Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio) by bicycle, visiting family farms, making yogurt out of the milk they produce, and demonstrating that process and its sources to local communities, schools, and summer camps.  By focusing on the natural resources that exist in our communities, social and economic networks are strengthened and sustained by fellow friends and neighbors who become aware of the potential of the land and people around them.

Why yogurt?

-Learning how to make yogurt teaches lessons about raw materials and natural resources; seeing the cows that make your milk helps instill compassion for the creatures and people responsible for creating the food we eat.  Above all, making yogurt is fun – there is no better way to enjoy your food than by seeing your food grow and participating in the process with friends and neighbors.

Won’t the yogurt go bad on you bike?

-Yogurt was never meant to last forever; it is most delicious in the couple of days after it is made.  That doesn’t mean its unsafe to eat yogurt you make yourself – in fact, I feel much more confident eating yogurt that only contains bacteria and raw ingredients that I know.

So much of our food is packaged and shipped from so far away that it is easy to forget the natural resources available just a bike ride away.  Supporting our local economies also helps to reduce shipping costs, both economic and environmental, and makes communities more sustainable, resilient networks of people and resources.

Why do this from a cart on the street?

-Because bringing people onto the street creates vibrant, healthy communities, and there is nothing like a person with food to attract other people.  As William H. “Holly” Whyte, a pioneer in understanding how people inhabit cities, said, “If you want to seed a place with activity, put out food…Food attracts people who attract more people.”  In most countries around the world, street food is a staple in many people’s diets, and street vendors prepare and sell an impressive array of foods.  Many countries, like Mexico and Thailand, attract tourists specifically for their street food.  In many part of the US, however, street food is stereotyped as dirty, unhealthy, and characterized only by greasy hot dogs or pretzels at summer festivals.  On the contrary!  Street food is an excellent way to foster street life, diversify fast food options beyond unhealthy chain restaurants, and appreciate the diversity of people and food cultures that populate our towns and cities.

What will you teach?

-Lesson plans vary according to the venue.  I will have displays about yogurt making at all of my stops along the way, and this blog will document the various batches of yogurt I make and farms I visit.  The process of making yogurt involves a good deal of waiting and luck, so much of the process is invisible (that’s the magical part!), but I hope to have yogurt to taste for a couple of days after each farm visit.  Lesson plans are still in development, but feel free to contact me with any questions or particular topics you’d like covered.

Will you come to my town/school/summer camp/farm?

-I’d love to!  I’m still planning my route, so please email me at annie.lambla@gmail.com and hopefully I can make it to your community.

I want to help!  What can I do?

-I’m actively seeking donations and sponsors of all kinds, so please contact me at yogurtpedaler@gmail.com and let me know how you would like to contribute. Or, donate through PayPal.

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