Étienne Gosselin | Agronomist | Journalist
Julie Aubé has a passion for eating and good food. From farm to table, her work is focused on bringing together the "two solitudes" that consumers and producers have become.
Aubé has had a bit of an unusual career path. Trained as a nutritionist, she's combined her formal education with her love of food and agriculture, working as hard as any farmer: in addition to being an entrepreneur, blogger and speaker, she also organizes "Prenez le champ!" culinary farm events.
With a bachelor's degree, a master's in nutrition and a certificate in socio-cultural food practices management, Aubé decided to "target the general public to educate them about the importance of our day-to-day food choices."
Connecting consumers and producers
Aubé hammers home her message: she wants to put a face to those who feed us, and her 288-page book Prenez le champ ("Take to the field") does just that. For the past few months, she's been recruiting groups of some 30 agritourism 2.0 enthusiasts, who are interested in visiting hand-picked farms, asking fun questions, savouring a delicious meal and thoroughly enjoying themselves.
"At a time when we're seeing continued growth in prepared and overly processed foods, I'm coming in with the idea to buy groceries from our farmers and to cook at home with raw ingredients," says Aubé. The excursions she organizes are experiential and immersive and engage all 5 senses.
"There's a huge disconnect between consumers and those who feed them," she says. "I enjoy educating more curious, sensitive and responsible eaters."
Aubé is driven by a desire to educate consumers about the economic context in which farms operate--when one or two owners have to work outside to keep the business going--and to fight against the dwindling number of farms and the increased size of the remaining farms. For her, two models are inevitably emerging: slow food and fast food.
Aubé is firmly in the slow food camp, advocating a country farm model that is part of a sustainable ecosystem, with no monoculture and enhanced animal welfare. She selects farms that have chosen to produce quality food that they market right there.
What does Aubé appreciate about these farmers? "I like their passion, dedication and the way they talk about the land. I also admire them for having to constantly stay on their toes."
The nutritionist by training and writer and speaker by profession praises farmers who share quality information and who don't charge for farm tours. "'Novice,' 'intermediate' and 'expert' eaters should learn more about the agricultural sector and consider more than just standard supermarket price and shelf-life criteria," says Aubé.
Register for "Prenez le champ" events at julieaube.com (in French only).