Think you can’t get any fresher than Whole Foods? Think again. Weinberg junior Zoe Brockman grew up eating local and organic food grown right in her backyard on her family’s organic farm.

“I always had really good food to eat,” Brockman says. “Everything we eat is from the farm in terms of fruit and vegetables.”

Brockman was raised on Henry’s Farm in Congerville, Ill. Her father founded the farm 20 years ago, and there her family grows more than 500 types of fruits and veggies. She worked on the farm with her family as a child.

Lessons Learned

Brockman says she learned how to be responsible at an early age by looking after the chickens and goats that provide fresh eggs and milk for the farm.

“Having animals that you have to take care of is a very big responsibility as a kid,” she says.

Furthermore, Brockman says she learned a lesson in diligence. After all, ending up with good produce takes dedication and investment.

“It is very people-oriented and taught me the value of hard work,” Brockman says. “It’s a multi-generational farm. We plant, weed and do everything by hand.”

Fresh Food to Freshmen Food

When she came to Northwestern, Brockman’s transition from farm food to campus fare wasn’t too difficult, she says. She moved into Hobart House as a freshman and took advantage of the dining halls around South Campus, just happy to have some sustenance.

“I was so busy as a college freshman and sophomore that I didn’t have time to think about how to adjust or fix it,” Brockman says. “I was like, ‘I’m busy; I have to eat this and do my work.’”

Still, her affinity for eating an organic diet didn’t completely disappear. Brockman says she steered clear of eggs and meat because their origins could be questionable. But she doesn’t critique NUCuisine for its industrial farm goods.

“It’s hard to support dining halls with local food right now because there isn’t a system in place for that to happen yet,” she says. “That’s the goal and where we should move toward, but you can’t just blame the dining halls.”

organic family farm

Photo by Kirby Barth

For students on campus meal plans, Brockman suggests making minor diet changes, such as avoiding eggs and meat and searching for other sources of protein. She also recommends buying locally grown food at the fall Evanston Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings to supplement your meal plan. Henry’s Farm runs a stand at the market.

“It’s really great to utilize the Farmers’ Market because it is the only source of local and fresh food,” Brockman says. “It’s not as expensive as Whole Foods, and it’s fresher. It’s a better product for less.”

But Brockman knows it’s not possible to get everything locally, and simply taking a step in that direction is good, she says.

At any rate, Brockman says entering college has made her grateful for the eating habits she developed while living on the farm.

“Coming to Northwestern I realized how big [eating locally and organically] was in my life,” she says. “Other people didn’t have that. I was really lucky.”

Fast Facts

Favorite food: Temakizushi (a type of sushi rolled into a cone shape and not sliced)
Evanston restaurant pick: Thai Sookdee
Chicago restaurant suggestion: The Publican (Henry’s Farm sells produce to this restaurant)
Lives on or off campus? Off campus