Dana DuGan

Figgleaf Productions / Freelance Writer

As a journalist, Dana DuGan uses the power of her pen to further the local foods movement in the Wood River Valley. A conscientious consumer and passionate gardener, Dana always looks for ways to bring local food issues to the forefront. When she isn't writing about raw milk or conservation and farming for publications like Edible Idaho and The Weekly Sun (where she serves as news editor), she can be found crafting newsletter content for NourishMe, volunteering at farm to table dinners, and working in her backyard garden.

LFA: What’s your definition of “good food”?
Good food is firstly food that’s grown or sustained in good soil without any chemical interference. Secondly, good food is accessible, doesn’t have a large footprint and is as fresh as possible.

LFA: What type of food and farming stories do you like to write about?
DD: I really enjoy meeting farmers and hearing their stories, but I also write about new health and food culture trends and try to keep abreast of what’s happening in the world of organic, sustainable agriculture. To me, everything comes back to food and farming; the way it’s grown; the way it looks; how it’s cooked; the way it’s served and what its benefits are.

LFA: Is there a memorable story you’d like to share?
DD: In my early 20s, I was traveling in France with friends. It was summertime and every day we sought out water; a river or lake on our map and there we’d head. Meals were either picnics or we’d stop at a café along the roads. One day we stopped at a farm house on the side of a mountain pass. The only costumers, we were seated at a proper table outside, under a vine- covered arbor over-looking the farm and beyond it a steep narrow valley in the mountains. Family members brought us fresh farm egg omelets fine herbes, with fresh bread and a salad from the garden. Served with a glass of local white wine, it was the freshest, simplest and most joyful of meals. I vowed to try to live as close to this as possible.

LFA: How did you get interested and involved in the local foods movement?
I moved here from the east coast where I had a copious garden, belonged to a busy garden club, made my own baby food, shopped at markets supplied by local farms and generally lived as sustainably as possible. I had to relearn how to garden when I moved to the mountains. But I joined the Sawtooth Botanical Garden, and its CSA and then, when Idaho’s Bounty began, I joined that too. It’s just been an evolution. As the local food movement grew in the Valley, I tried to keep involved one way or another. I worked for Idaho’s Bounty, and later volunteered. I’ve worked with Julie Johnson, at NourishMe since she opened the store, which has a strong connection to local farmers. I’ve also volunteered for Local Food Alliance’s Elevated Table dinners.

LFA: Describe your ultimate meal made with local ingredients.
DD: I could name lots of combinations but today, I’ll go with this: A perfectly fried, runny, local farm egg, with Kimberly’s Feta crumbles, and sprouts from Itty Bitty Farm, on top of a mound of Kraay’s spinach with a drizzle of Kraay’s olive oil. Add Agrarian Farms breakfast sausage, a toasted pumpernickel bagel from Hangar Bread, with a dollop of Rainbow Fairy Ferments kimchi.

LFA: You are working hard to procure local food for your daughter’s upcoming wedding. Why?
DD: It’s just the right thing to do. I don’t eat otherwise and wouldn’t want to serve guests anything I wouldn’t eat. Everything we need for an elegant, tasty meal is available. Also, I want to show off how abundant and delicious our local food can be here in the mountains of Idaho.

LFA: When and how did you learn to grow your own food?
DD: Growing up, we always had vegetable gardens, fruit trees, berries and egg-laying chickens. We were also frequent visitors to farms where we could buy milk, eggs, produce, and cider and apples from orchards. Later, we lived on an alfalfa and cattle ranch in Nevada where we grew and ate our own, traded with friends and were regularly gifted fresh raw milk. Now I have a couple vegetable patches, fruit trees and gardens and continue to grow what I can. I’m always learning.

LFA: Who is your food hero?
DD: As a writer, I am enthralled by Michael Pollan and how he’s opened people’s eyes to the concept of real food in a charming and unique way. I also admire Joel Salatin and Sally Fallon for their incredible influences on the way people farm, cook and live. But right now, José Andrés is my food hero for the way his nonprofit World Central Kitchen helps to fed people real food in crisis situations around the world. Locally, I’d cite Julie Johnson of NourishMe and Amy Matias of LFA for their commitment to local food. Each makes a difference every day in what is available in the Valley.

LFA: What change would you like to see in the Wood River Valley in terms of food?
DD: I’d like to see way less food trucked into the Valley, and way more attention to fresh, local foods in all the restaurants and markets. In order to achieve that people must wake up to the realities of how their diets affect their health and their families. and how what they by affects our climate, earth and future. As Michael Pollan says, “Vote with your fork.”

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