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Actress and Singer Zooey Deschanel Is Focused on Building a Better Food System

Photo: Courtesy of Max Wagner

Deschanel, a member of the musical duo, She & Him, and her husband, Jacob Pechenik, started The Farm Project, a public benefit corporation focused on creating a better food system.

“Most of us go to big stores to buy our food and we don’t see where or know how it’s grown, and we don’t meet the people who grew it,” she says, noting the current food system favors processed, shelf-stable food that’s shipped long distances.

The goal is to encourage everyone, regardless of means, to grow 20 percent or more of their own food and directly connect with farmers in their community to help make informed choices.

Getting started

The actress, known for her role on the Fox TV show, “New Girl,” suggests shopping at farmers markets, co-ops, and subscribing to a CSA box or farm-direct grocery provider.

She encourages consumers to support and get to know the farmers for a greater appreciation for the work that went into it.

Deschanel is also the force behind Lettuce Grow, a membership service that helps consumers curate their own farm stand. Members choose their crops, then the seedlings and nutrients are delivered.

“The more we conserve our resources by growing this way, the more we can create a dent in emissions and waste simply by using resources and space more efficiently,” she says.

Fresh and local

Deschanel buys locally grown, in-season fruits and veggies.

“Fresh, local food makes cooking at home much easier, because you can really let the ingredients shine,” says Deschanel, whose favorite summer dish is a simple heirloom tomato salad, lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, and fresh basil from her garden.

The mother of two says growing food has a significant impact on kids.

“I have really loved seeing how kids are willing to try foods that they’ve grown, and which they might not try if you just put it on a plate for them at dinner time,” she says.

Lettuce Grow plans to work with schools and community organizations.

“If we’re giving access and knowledge about growing food to kids, they’re going to create sustainable change in the world,” she says. “We’re in this for the long haul, for our kids, and our grandkids.”

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