Shelby Thompson Brings Love of Local Food to Local First AZ Team in Tucson
Local First Arizona is pleased to welcome Shelby Thompson as Local First Arizona's new Community Outreach Coordinator based in our Tucson office. Shelby brings a wealth of knowledge about local businesses (and a love for local foods) to her new role, where she'll be working with businesses in Tucson and across the region and helping our members take advantage of their benefits. Join us in welcoming Shelby, shoot her a welcome email at [email protected]! Here's a little bit more about her:
Tell us a bit about your background.
I’ve lived all over the United States––from Pennsylvania, to Southern California, to Virginia, to Northern California, to Arizona, to Colorado––but it wasn’t until I moved to Tucson that I developed a sense of pride and place for the city I call home. After graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law, I worked for Apple while I fostered my plant-based food blog (thesunandthespoon.com) and ventured into food writing. For the last year and a half, I worked as Edible Baja Arizona’s online editor, a role that further connected me with local food systems and the community. That aside, I have two large dogs (Cola and Benji) who I adore, and I regularly enjoy practicing yoga at Yoga Oasis, hiking on Mount Lemmon, and riding my bike around Tucson’s historic neighborhoods.
What drew you to Local First Arizona?
I never planned to fall in love with Tucson. When I arrived here from Phoenix as a wide-eyed college freshman, my goal was to work hard, get my degree, and move out of Arizona. Eight years later, I can’t imagine being anywhere else. The impact that local businesses, food, and people have had on me are a strong testament to the incredible ways in which localism can foster community and connection. The work that Local First Arizona is doing to strengthen local economies and empower communities strongly aligns with my personal values and beliefs.
What is your favorite local business and why?
Tucson CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). It’s almost entirely responsible for opening my eyes to local food, sustainable agriculture, and the incredibly passionate people in my community. Over the three years that I’ve been a Tucson CSA member, the organization has inspired me to volunteer, learn more about local agriculture, and connect with the people of Tucson in deeper and more meaningful ways. Additionally, the weekly shares of seasonal produce that I receive from Tucson CSA are filled with some of the best food I’ve ever tasted.
Tell us about one of your life's passions.
When my mind wanders, it always wanders to the same thing: food. Although I’ve had an active role in the kitchen since a young age, my views on food have changed a lot over the years. In 2015, after reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, joining Tucson CSA, and writing for Edible Baja Arizona, I began sourcing almost all of my food––from produce to goat cheese––locally. Now, I’ve made it my mission to teach others about the powerful impact that locally grown food can have on our economy, personal well being, and the environment.
What makes you proud to be an Arizonan?
The diversity of cultures that unites Arizonans and makes them unique as a whole. I cherish events like the All Souls Procession and Tucson Meet Yourself, which celebrate the various cultures that thrive within our community.
What are you most excited to be working on at Local First Arizona?
I’m so excited to empower both business owners and consumers. I can’t wait to leverage community gatherings, engaging forums, and programs like Fuerza Local to support local entrepreneurs and show my neighbors how they can further connect with the community.
We can't wait to see all that Shelby will do to help Tucson's local businesses thrive! Stay tuned for more details.