Marti Emch of MEEL
"I had returned to my roots in Middle Tennessee, my twins were 2-years-old, and I wanted to foster their healthy development through good nutritional choices. I also wanted to foster a closeness for our family, as my parents did, through a shared love of food. My grandparents and great-grandparents were full-time farmers, growing and preserving almost everything they consumed. And I was fortunate to grow up in a home where the family dinner was sacrosanct.
Throughout college, I worked in restaurants, often sneaking into the kitchen to acquire new ideas and skills. However, it wasn't until my early 20s that my palate fully awakened. As a graphic design intern, I stumbled upon an early issue of Martha Stewart Living with its gorgeous typography and abundance of culinary ideas and was, in short, totally inspired. Design became my profession but food was always an important passion. I became an avid food magazine subscriber and cookbook collector, and I began entertaining as often as possible: trying out new recipes on friends and family, baking pies for neighbors, crafting little bundles of food to leave on doorsteps.
A penchant for world travel further complemented and encouraged this connection to the origins of our food... from learning to make tofu in central Java, experiencing the art of cicchetti in the back canals of Venice, or baking naan in a tandoori barrel in rural Rajasthan, food continued to be a central part of my life.
In 2003, my husband and I joined a CSA, evolving our culinary habits to fit a seasonal rhythm. Once our children were born, I began taking even greater care and pride in preparing good food—real food—with a connection to exactly how it had arrived on our plate. Driven by a desire to temper the frenetic pace of life and a belief that nutrition has a significant impact on mental and physical wellness, we began to prioritize the family dinner. That’s where the idea for the MEEL plan came in. I was already making weekly organic granola to sell at our local farmers market, but recognized a more profound need in the community. Customers needed help eating together, eating well and eating local. Thus MEEL was born."