Monika Woolsey's Perfect Food Day
Photo courtesy Monika Woolsey
If you run in circles supporting local businesses, the arts, balanced living or sustainability initiatives in Arizona, chances are you've run into Monika Woolsey. She's the Director of Marketing for Chow Locally, a co-organizer of Get Your PHX/Phoestivus holiday markets, and founder of a hormone health organization (hopefully soon to be non-profit) called inCYST, which focuses on treating hormone disorders with food and complementary medicine.
With both sets of parents descending from farmers, she really believes in "the power of healthy dirt." She thinks that "if you live and eat sustainably, you greatly increase the probability that you're going to be healthier than if you don't. A big part of that is eating what is growing pretty close to home. Fortunately, in Arizona, we have a great mix of Mediterranean diet-friendly agricultural climate and a treasure trove of exotic, delicious, health-beneficial native foods. We have such an opportunity to be a marvelous food culture here--visitors to Phoenix really should be seeking out nopales, mesquite, cactus fruit, and tepary beans the way they ask for salmon in Seattle and gumbo in Orleans."
She's almost an Arizona native having moved here when she was only 9 months old from Germany. She grew up on the west side of Phoenix and spent her teenage years in Tucson. Some of her favorite food memories from growing up here include: "weekly trips to Schreiner's with her German mother all the way back in the '60's," getting lost in the cornstalks of her Mississippi-raised grandfather's backyard, banana splits at the Carnation Dairy, the smell of burning grapefruit peels on processing day at the old Squirt factory, fresh shrimp cooked on the beach at Rocky Point and her annual apple gathering trip to Oak Creek Canyon.
College and her professional career took her around the country including time in Ithaca New York, Boston, Chicago, Boulder and the Bay Area.
"Between living in so many cities and loving to travel, I've eaten in a lot of places. I am often teased by friends for always, at the mention of a city, having a recommendation for a place to eat."