It’s the third episode of Tough Cookie, and I got to chat food and cooking (and farming and buying local) with Jess Weiland of High Desert Food & Farm Alliance! In this episode we talk about cooking, buying local, challenges with our High Desert growing season, and connecting with local farmers.

Tough Cookie is a podcast that celebrates badass women in food – from product makers, to chefs, to digital food boss ladies. If you are or know someone who works in food, please send me an email at darlene (at) picklejarstudios (dot) com and tell me about it! Now booking for the 2017 podcast season. 

Listen here or on your favorite media player: 


Show Notes for Tough Cookie Episode 003:

Darlene Veenhuizen is Owner, Designer and Food Content Creator at Pickle Jar Studios

Jess Weiland, Food and Farm Director with High Desert Food and Farm Alliance

Jess Weiland High Desert Food and Farm Alliance at Primal Cuts

Jess talked about:

Food Systems: 
I really like to challenge people about food in this broader context and think of it as a food system and that’s why we are working in so many different areas is because food touches our lives in so many different ways.

Food is like boulders. Rocks are never where you need it! And that’s one of the pieces we can help with, not just education, but the logistics.

Buying local and cooking

Once you retrain yourself, it’s not extra effort… you start thinking about the stories behind your food and it becomes fascinating and it’s not a chore to cook dinner at night…. It has this whole greater context.

When you make the effort to purchase from a local farmer who you know, and you know your money is staying in the local economy, there’s this sort of honoring the effort of what it took to get that food to your plate and the effort that it took the farmer to raise that food and that’s part of the whole story too.

Cook more and cook more with vegetables.

Start small and simple. It doesn’t have to be this elaborate meal. And the same thing with sourcing local… it can be something as simple as going to the farmer’s marketing and getting a new vegetable and just work with that one ingredient. The simpler the better.

Working with many steakholders

You are not a nutella jar. You can’t please everybody. I realized my job is how to empower people to do things for themselves, and asking people what are your needs, what would help you do this better. How do we help you do your job, what do you need?

Working with non-profits

Being in a mental place where you are willing to volunteer, and to try things out – that’s a really good way to get started.

If you are passionate about this sort of stuff, you wake up thinking about this stuff, and food is the arena you want to work in…volunteering is the best way to get started and there’s so many opportunities to get started with non-profits.

Work-life balance and passion

Do something that sets your soul on fire. At the end of the day, if you are working really hard at something, you want it to be something that really gets you going and really sets a fire under your butt.

I don’t think it’s so much a question of how do you have work life balance, but how do you make your passion sustainable. If you’re really passionate about something, it can be all consuming, so you want to be able to make it so that you can continue to follow your passion for a long time.



Darlene talked about:

I feel more of an obligation to do right by food when I buy it locally.

At the end of the day, we all want good food and we all want it for as many people as possible.

The key for me, now, is just to eat real food.

When it comes to cooking: just take it one thing at a time.

It’s really beautiful when everyone is there for a reason, and it’s out of passion. You really can’t ask for anything more than that.

With entrepreneurs and small business people, there’s a huge imbalance with work and life. What I hear the most is that there isn’t a balance. You make a mix of your life that works for you and for your family. If you are working 70% of the time, then what does the 30% look like? Where’s the self-care and the rest and stepping away occasionally. It’s going to look different for everybody. I don’t think there’s a 50-50 balance, I think that’s just a lie.

Where to find High Desert Food & Farm Alliance


Where to find Darlene

Pickle Jar Studios website
Pickle Jar Studios on Instagram
Tough Cookie on Instagram

Resources Mentioned:

Cooking Classes for communities
Seed to Supper Program
Food and Farm Directory
Oregon State University Extension Services
Rouge Farm Corps
Good Food Jobs
The Market Gardener
Eliot Coleman
Crook County Crop Crooked River Open Pastures
Local Partnership Stickers
Oregon Tilth