Immediately after graduating from Gallatin, Annie Myers (BA ’09) landed a plum job: food forager for one of New York’s hippest restaurants, The Spotted Pig. Her job title may bring to mind someone rooting around in the woods in search of provisions, but most of Myers’s foraging takes place at the Union Square Greenmarket. Food forager is a job that probably did not exist until a few years ago. But as restaurants, not to mention diners and home cooks, have become more aware of the quality and abundance of seasonal, locally grown food, jobs have opened up for people like Myers to connect urban chefs with regional farmers.
Myers generally arrives at The Spotted Pig in the West Village from her home in Brooklyn Heights by about 7:30 a.m. She picks up a custom-built tricycle equipped with a large storage container and bikes to Union Square, where she takes stock of what’s available. “It’s a lot about quality, but also just a lot about learning what she likes,” says Myers, referring to April Bloomfield, executive chef and co-owner of The Spotted Pig and The Breslin Bar and Dining Room.
Myers took a year off between high school and college to work on a farm in Umbria, Italy, and shortly after starting at Gallatin she did an internship with an organization called Just Food, which is dedicated to connecting local farms to New York City residents. She also worked at an urban farm in Red Hook, and then decided to study Agriculture and Regional Food Systems at Gallatin. Myers has a blog on the politics of food as well—thoughtsonthetable.wordpress.com—which started as an independent study at Gallatin, when Professor Steven Hutkins suggested she start her own site. She writes thoughtfully about the sustainable food movement in New York City and beyond. “I don’t end up in supermarkets, really,” says Myers. “I like knowing where my food comes from and supporting the way it’s produced.” She is a member of a community garden near her apartment in Brooklyn Heights—“for my own tomatoes and arugula and the like”—and she coordinates her local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). CSAs are increasingly popular cooperative organizations in which members buy “shares” of fruits and vegetables from a regional farmer. At the forefront of the growing movement in urban farming, Myers also designed a rooftop farm in Brooklyn. The project, part of an independent class she took on permaculture, involved designing and building a rooftop farm at the Metropolitan Exchange building in Downtown Brooklyn.
While at Gallatin, Myers and fellow student Carla Fernandez received a Green Grant from the NYU Sustainability Task Force to start a project called Radishes and Rubbish, in which they gave tours of food-production facilities and waste-management plants in the area. “It was mostly for NYU students, but many people found our Web site and joined us on the trips,” says Myers. They visited cheese makers, slaughterhouses and trash-transfer stations, among other places, and on a trip to Stony Brook Farm in upstate New York, Katharine Marsh, The Spotted Pig’s previous forager, came along. She realized pretty quickly that Myers would be a good fit for the restaurant. “I feel like New York is a good place to be doing this,” says Myers, “because people are skeptical here, and challenging, and yet the movement to strengthen a regional food system is growing by the minute.”