Emily Lesky


Michigan is preparing me to be a food, agriculture and community health leader.

Growing up in Harbor Springs, an area with access to locally farmed foods, I always have had an interest in food and where it comes from. I knew that when fall rolled around, there would be bushels of apples stored in my garage to pack in my lunch each day, and that we would soon be visiting a pumpkin farm. In the summer, I would be visiting a local farm to pick my own strawberries.

After graduating high school, I decided to continue to pursue this interest by studying nutritional sciences at Michigan State University. During my four years at Michigan State University, I expanded my knowledge of nutrition, public health and sustainability. One of my favorite classes at MSU was centered around the notion of sustainable communities. I was intrigued by how supporting local farms and food could benefit my community. By purchasing from local farmers, consumers are supporting their local economy, while also enjoying the freshest produce picked at its peak.

This summer, I’m working with Taste the Local Difference as the community health intern in Traverse City. This position supports TLD as we strive to connect community members to local food and farmers throughout the state of Michigan. I’m thrilled to learn more about the relationships between producers, consumers, local food and farming and the environment. Being with TLD is opening my eyes to all of the working parts of a local food system.

Previously, as the consumer of local foods, I benefit my own health and could see the health of my local economy is being supported.

Now I realize how much time and effort goes into producing and selling local food.

Seeing firsthand the time and dedication shown by farmers has heightened my passion for encouraging others to shop local.

Additionally, I have gained knowledge of the connection between nutrition education and good health, and through my career, I want to promote quality nutrition education to improve the health of others. To do this, I plan to serve with FoodCorps beginning in August in Battle Creek, Michigan. There, I will have the opportunity to teach elementary students the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables.

As a child, I always had access to an abundance of healthy, fresh foods.

However, for many children this is not the case. In Battle Creek, around 21 percent of the population lives at or below the poverty line. Children may not have the opportunity to learn about where their food comes from and how different foods affect their health.

Michigan agriculture has been supporting me throughout my life’s journey. As I prepare for my FoodCorps service, I hope to encourage kids to choose healthy Michigan-grown foods while providing them with the tools to make the move toward a healthier diet and a healthier life.

Emily Lesky is the Taste the Local Difference Northern Michigan Community Health Intern. She is a Northern Michigan native born and raised in the beautiful Petoskey/Harbor Springs area. Emily graduated this past May from Michigan State University with a degree in nutritional science and a minor in health promotion. Contact her at health@localdifference.org.

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