CUESA’s Volunteer of the Month program recognizes the dedication and work of some of our most active volunteers. CUESA relies on volunteers to help with education programs, special events, public outreach, and other activities that help fulfill our mission to cultivate a sustainable food system. Learn more about volunteering and sign up here.
CUESA volunteers bring excitement, dedication, and new energy to our programs, and January Volunteer of the Month Meb Byrne is no exception. A regular face at the farmers market, Meb has taken the lead in cooking demos, been interviewed on the Fresh from the Farmers Market TV show, and helped out at festivals and special events.
“Meb is a wonderful volunteer because not only does she enjoy learning about the farmers market and cooking, but she also loves sharing her knowledge with others and does it with enthusiasm and great joy,” says Market Chef Elianna Friedman. “My favorite quotation from Meb is, after a Pear and Celery Salad cooking demo, she said, ‘I’m an Asian pear girl, who knew?’” Find out what other farmers market essentials can be found in Meb’s kitchen, below.
Watch Meb talk goat cheese at CUESA’s Goat Festival in Fresh From the Farmers Market. For more videos on CUESA programs and events, visit the CUESA YouTube Channel.
CUESA: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for CUESA?
Meb: I just started a new job at TCHO Chocolate, so I’m spending a lot of time there! I’m pretty active with weightlifting, yoga, Pilates, and hiking. I follow the couture fashion scene, and I love thrift shopping, reading, and going to concerts. I also volunteer at 18 Reasons, New Taste Marketplace, Good Food Awards, and lots of other foodie events.
CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?
Meb: I was a very picky eater growing up; I lived on pasta, chicken pieces, and sausage for about 18 years. In college, I plowed my way through New York City’s fantastic restaurant scene and became interested in nutrition and cooking, which grew into a love for local, sustainable food after I moved to the Bay Area. Food history also fascinates me, since I majored in history and I like learning the origin stories of dishes and techniques.
CUESA: What made you want to volunteer for CUESA?
Meb: I came to California with a vague idea of working in politics or public health, but after six months on the left coast, it was pretty obvious that food was where I fit in best. I didn’t have any connections to the food world at that point, so I went to a CUESA volunteer training on a whim. I was very gung ho about making a good first impression; I marched right up to Michelle [CUESA’s Volunteer Coordinator] after the presentation was done and introduced myself with a firm handshake. I think I scared her.
CUESA: Do you have any interesting stories from your time as a CUESA volunteer?
Meb: Handing out samples at the Goat Festival is my favorite memory to date. Market shoppers got to try different cheeses, and I told them fun facts that I’d only just learned an hour before. I got to clown around on camera with the Fresh from the Farmers Market team from TradioV, too, which was a hoot. [You can see the video clip of Meb, above.]
CUESA: What’s your favorite thing to make in the kitchen?
Meb: I’m happiest when I’m eating really leafy meals, with lots of bright, fresh flavors like lemon, pea tendrils, and green onions. My fridge always has kale, chard, spinach, and bok choy at the ready. Winter squashes are another favorite; they’re super easy to roast, and they make entrees for days. I love baking, but I have to have someone to give my treats to. I’ve been known to devour entire batches of granola in one sitting.
CUESA: Do you have any seasonal market tips for our shoppers?
Meb: Buddha’s hand, also known as citron! It’s a giant, spidery, super-cool winter citrus fruit. Ask vendors for a primer on how to use it, or read more about it on CUESA’s website.
CUESA: Anything else?
Meb: Just that I’m so lucky to have found my career’s passion and some of my best California friends at CUESA. I love you guys.
Interested in becoming a CUESA volunteer? Attend our upcoming New Volunteer Orienation on January 30. Read more about it and RSVP here.
CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to cultivating a sustainable food system through the operation of farmers markets and educational programs. Learn More »