Cali Brinkworth, 84.51º

Cali Brinkworth is a Senior Production Manager at 84.51°

Background: Cali graduated WashU in 2018 with majors in Neuroscience and Global Health. In undergrad at WashU, she was more focused on neuroscience and did a tremendous amount of research in labs. She went abroad to Switzerland for her Global Health major and was really interested in nutrition/obesity and how that impacts neurological impulses. This background is ultimately what opened the door to her first position within Kroger’s/ 84.51°.

What her first position with Kroger’s/ 84.51° entailed: This was a consultant position right out of college within the health/wellness subsection. In this position, Cali examined nutrition practices, dietetics, food as medicine, and more. She helped build nutrition science and was constantly working on cutting edge areas that pushed the nutrition field forward for nutrition retail and how to assess healthy eating. However, at the end of the day Kroger’s is a grocery store so in this position there was a balance of sticking to the goal of selling groceries.

What she does today: Currently, Cali is a Senior Production Manager. With this role, she loves being a leader and having the ability to make decisions. As a consultant (her previous position), you are influencing decisions but not the key decision maker. In her current role, she’s making all the decisions every day. While her work now is relatively unrelated to the food and agriculture industry, it is still food adjacent. She still interviews CPGs (consumer-packaged goods) and is making an impact in the grocery retail space. Also, she is currently getting her MBA at WashU with digital technology focus.

What challenges she has faced in this industry: On the health and wellness side, Cali had a difficult time getting her foot in the door as she did not have much business background. Once she was in, other challenges included feeling comfortable making big decisions. Once you’re in the “real world”, people trust what you say. There were many times where she had to give important choices and ultimately learned how to own her decisions and trust her gut.

What advice she has for undergraduate students: Work with professors as closely as possible! They will often help give very good direction to prompt you towards figuring out what you want to do.

Liz Wolfson, Sauce Magazine

Liz Wolfson is the Managing Editor at Sauce Magazine.

Background: Liz attended WashU in the early 2000s. At WashU, she helped start a student newspaper. After WashU, she freelanced in St. Louis for a while focusing on publications pertaining to the local visual arts scene and culture more broadly. She then went on to get her PhD in American Studies at Brown University. After completing her studies at Brown University, Liz moved back to St. Louis and came across Sauce Magazine. 

What she does today: Liz is the Managing Editor at Sauce Magazine (in St. Louis). Speaking about what she likes about the food/journalism industry, Liz said: “For me I was already interested in people, really interested in their experiences, in the things we have in common and the things that make us different… I have always loved the process of conducting interviews, of writing interviews.. That’s always been a core part of my journalism practice…Even though I’ve done a lot of different kinds of writing from more broad audience freelance journalism to very specialized academic writing, it’s always been about storytelling. That’s always how I’ve thought about it. And so going into food journalism, still storytelling but doing that in a way that’s focused around food.”

Her advice to students interested in journalism: “First when it comes to journalism, regardless of what topic you’re interested in writing about, write as much as you can. Write as much as you can, even if it’s a publication that you’re like ‘is this relevant to what I want to do’. The bigger your portfolio is of things that you can show of writing that you’ve done that will only help you in terms of applying for jobs. Also, in doing that I think maybe people think finding a job is the hardest part, but something that actually makes it easier to find a job is knowing where your strengths and interests lie because that will help you differentiate yourself and guide your application process. So, the more writing you do regardless of who it’s for- that will help you understand what it is that you’re interested in writing about… You’re never wasting your time in my opinion, especially early on.”

Her advice to students interested in the food industry: “If you are someone who’s interested in food, work with food… Work with food in other ways, even if you just get a gig as a prep cook which I even did at WashU! I worked the brunch line on Saturdays and Sundays… And I did prep during the week for the salad bars. I’ve waited tables, I’ve bussed tables. Anything you can do to actually get experience working in the kinds of places that you might be writing about if you decide to take the food journalism route to actually have experience being a worker is invaluable, is utterly invaluable… ultimately you have to make choices that will support you in pursuing the professional path that’s most appealing to you.” 

If you are interested in interning with Sauce Magazine, scroll to the “Sauce Magazine” section on this page for more information.

Megan Styles, Environmental Studies Department at University of Illinois Springfield

Megan Styles is an Associate Professor & the Department Chair of Environmental Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Background: Dr. Styles studied Anthropology and Environmental Studies at WashU. After graduating from WashU, she needed a minute before going to graduate school. So, joined AmeriCorps for a year where she was an environmental educator in Tennessee. Afterwards, she received both her MA in Environmental Anthropology and then a PhD in Environmental Anthropology. She studied the “marriage of the two things she loves”. 

What she does today: Today, Dr. Styles both teaches and is the Chair of the Environmental Studies department at the University of Illinois Springfield. She decided to be a professor because she loves school and knew she wanted to keep studying. In this role, Dr. Styles also engages with research, including publishing Roses from Kenya: Labor, Environment, and the Global Trade in Cut Flowers among other pieces of work. Additionally, Dr. Styles is one of the editors for the Culture, Agriculture, Food, and Environment journal (CAFE). CAFE is a peer reviewed journal that publishes long form ethnographic research on food and agriculture. She has been in the role for 4 years. Within her role, she creates calls for special editions to relevant issues. 

Her advice to students interested in getting involved with sustainable agriculture? Get involved with a local nonprofit! This provides you with a couple of ways to understand the work. A lot of people think about being the farmer. Learn the techniques and the hardships- this is super useful! The part that is hard is how you can make that structurally possible for farmers to survive. The system does not support farmers. Learn more about how hard it is to grow and to also market and stay afloat. Learn how to grow and operate as a business. Another track is getting involved with advocating for policy. There are organizations, like Illinois Stewardship Alliance, that are centrally involved in bringing farmers together to identify their needs and address those needs from a policy level. Fight the good fight!

Noah Offenkrantz, Find Your Farmer

Noah Offenkrantz is the CEO of Find Your Farmer, a delivery service to provide you with local produce while also supporting local farmers.  

Background: Noah graduated from WashU in 2020 with a major in Anthropology: Global Health and the Environment. While at WashU, Noah gained a greater understanding of the food system. He learned how to think critically about the systems we have and examine their flaws. 

His path to Find Your Farmer: Noah has always been interested in agriculture and the food system. Throughout college, he worked at a community garden. Also while at WashU, he studied abroad in India where this particular curriculum focused on the food system (he even lived on a farm at one point!). When Noah came back from India, he was interested in localized food systems. COVID hit around March of his senior year, leaving his friends together in quarantine where they had lots of discussions and ultimately decided to start a business together. At the time, farms were having issues moving their products cause they didn’t have the outlet of restaurants, and farmers markets weren’t open at the time. So, Noah and his friends initially partnered with a food hub, Eat Here St. Louis,  which provided an aggregate of food from local farms to distribute to anyone who will buy wholesale. That was in August of 2020.

What does a typical day look like at FYF? There are not many “typical days”. On Mondays, artisans and farmers receive forms for what people ordered, they drop off these goods Tuesday or Wednesday and then Noah and his crew sort everything, and Wednesday is delivery day. One particular week of a snowstorm, they started at 3 am and finished the day at 9 pm- driving in the blizzard for 8 hours to make sure people received their produce. On other days, as the CEO Noah wears many different hats so he will work with social media, marketing, customer outreach, updating and designing the website, dealing with different vendors, working with farms and artisans, taking products off/on the site, onboarding new vendors, and more. 

What is Noah’s favorite aspect of the food industry? The endless possibilities and what’s being done! His vision for St. Louis and what’s been guiding him for the past few years is focusing more on a relationship-oriented localized food system where everyone knows the source of their foods and the farmers/their practices. To him, this makes a lot more sense than the convenience food system we currently have. 

What are some challenges Noah has faced with FYF? Not really knowing how to do it. With starting a business, there was a big learning curve. He says he just had to “jump in the water and a lot of trial and error”. 

What advice would you give to an undergraduate student interested in going into the food/agriculture industry? Do the thing you’re interested in if you can! Noah says he learned a colossal amount from the time is company began about how the world works and how the food system works. “If you have a sense of something you want to be doing, just find a way to get your hands dirty and have to learn it.” 

If you are interested in getting involved with Find Your Farmer, please stay tuned for updates on how to engage with them. 

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