Who: Grace McElhone, Market Assistant
My name is Grace and I am the Kalamazoo Farmers Market Assistant. I have been vegan for a little over two years. This fall marks the beginning of my third year studying at Western Michigan University. I hope that my experience with the local thirty challenge will help other college students incorporate more local food into their diets. One of my favorite hobbies is cooking meals with my friends, so I decided to include that as a “cheat”. We already do our best to eat mostly local- but sometimes when we all cook together we can’t help but eat some vegan cheese. In addition, I included “diverted/surplus food” as a cheat. My friends and I sometimes save food from dumpsters before it is sent to the landfill. In addition, I have access to pre-landfill food thanks to the staff refrigerator at the PFC. Although some of these salvaged foods may not be local, diverting them from going to a landfill reduces food waste, which is an important act!

Diet: Vegan


  1. Peanut Butter

  2. Nutritional Yeast

  3. Oats

  4. Olive Oil

  5. Cinnamon

  6. Coffee

  7. Quinoa

  8. Chickpeas

  9. Diverted/surplus food

  10. Food made by/with friends

Grocery Haul:

Market haul for the week of September 15… Helloooo Concord Grapes! The pizza crust was eaten that Saturday night with my two friends, topped with a garlic sauce and lots of veggies.

Market haul for the week of September 15… Helloooo Concord Grapes! The pizza crust was eaten that Saturday night with my two friends, topped with a garlic sauce and lots of veggies.

Purchased: Vegetable Medley Box (2 peppers, 3 small eggplants, 1 zucchini, 1 summer squash, 1 potato, a tiny head of cauliflower, 5 small peaches), Watermelon, Nectarines, 2 ears of corn, Kale, Broccoli

Free food: 3 heads of cauliflower, bananas, 1 box strawberries, Sarkozy Bakery french bread (leftover from the Saturday food demo), hummus, corn tortillas, lettuce

Cost: $21.50
I usually spend between $15 and $25 at the market each week. Usually ½ fruits and ½ vegetables, with potatoes and mushrooms thrown in there occasionally.

Basic Meal Plan:
I usually eat grains and fruit for breakfast, leftovers or a pb and j with raw fruits/veggies for lunch, and lots of cooked veggies and some kind of protein for dinner.

Breakfast: Oatmeal with peaches, maple syrup (made with love by my Mom and Tom), and cinnamon- the trick is to mix the peaches into the oatmeal while it’s still hot.

Lunch: Peanut Butter and Raspberry Jam (from Sticky Spoons) on Sarkozy bread, nectarines, and veggies with hummus

Dinner: fresh pasta (from Pasta Provisions) with steamed broccoli and sauteed chicken of the woods mushroom, topped with nutritional yeast and whatever other seasonings feel right.

Favorite Recipe: Late Summer Veggies  
This meal is full of delicious vegetables that are in season right now! Since I am an on-the-go college student, I like easy meals that I can make and enjoy quickly. This recipe makes approximately 2-3 servings.

What I learned:
I have noticed that I eat with my friends more than I thought I did… which is a good thing. The friends I usually eat with all shop at the market every Saturday so although this was a “cheat”- I was still eating lots of locally grown foods. At the beginning of the month, I found that not including salt and pepper into my cheats was a silly idea. I ended up buying seasonings from Jeannie at the Portage Market. It was really fun to connect with her and talk about her favorite spice blends and what they tasted best with. Although this product is not entirely Michigan grown, all of the ingredients are organic or certified naturally grown (some of them Jeannie grows herself!). Bonus- the spices are packaged in glass containers which she said she would love to re-use if I bring them back when they’re empty!

When reviewing my cheats, I realized that the oats I currently have at home could be considered diverted/surplus food since I bought them at Goodwill (the box was slightly damaged so a company donated it- there’s almost always random food items at the Goodwill on W Main). I also found out that there are oats and sunflower oil at the Kalamazoo Farmers Market, which I will definitely buy once I run out of what I have. Although quinoa is on my list of cheats, I have yet to eat it so far this month. I would also like to point out that my life would definitely be different if I did not receive any free food (which I am so extremely grateful for). Overall, I have been enjoying NOT going to the grocery store and settling for easy to make foods packaged in non-recyclable plastic.

I hope to continue to challenge myself to eat as local as possible, by replacing my “non-local staples” with local options, and making sacrifices when re-evaluating what I feel I cannot live without… I’m lookin’ at you coffee.