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Better Know a Pizza Maker: Lee West ’10

April 11, 2010

In today’s interview, we learn why Lee West is a pizza maker instead of a cider presser.

Lee West, Saybrook ’10, English major

What made you want to be a pizza maker?
I was working in the YSFP office and saw how much fun they were having, and I decided I wanted to be outside too!

What’s your favorite vegetable?
Spinach — or sun-gold tomatos.

What’s your favorite dish to cook?
I like to steam a lot of bitter greens with garlic.

What fruit or veggie best typifies you?
I’m versatile, like spinach.

Describe a fun/hard/exceptional story from working at the Farm.
At Harvest festival this fall, I was in charge of the cider press, but I had no idea how to use it. I now know that you’re supposed to pulverize the apples before putting them into the press, so that it’s easier to get the juice out, but I only sliced them. Because of this, cranking the cider press took way more effort than was reasonable for the few drops of cider coming out of the bottom.

At about the moment that I realized this cider-pressing thing wasn’t going to work out, a little boy about seven or eight years old walked up with his mother. “Can I try?” Of course he could try — who would say no to that? With a little help, he pulled the lever for ten or twelve cranks, until he’d gathered a crowd that included a few other kids about his age. “Me next!” one said. Of course you next. Never mind that it was taking about ten minutes to fill a dixie cup halfway with cider. The next guy cranked his little heart out. Soon enough there was a waiting list, a miniature workforce that would have been far too young for any working papers. They kept at it, with only a little help from Mom and Dad, for the rest of the afternoon.

Nobody drank much cider that day. But by the end of the afternoon, it was clear that that hadn’t been the point.

What’s your favorite food cause? Why?
I think it’s important to think about food access in impoverished communities. Lots of communities (including, now that Shaw’s is closing, a good chunk of New Haven) don’t have reasonable access to nutritious food of any sort, let alone sustainable food, and that’s a moral problem and a market failure which the sustainable food movement should try to correct.

Tell us about other work you’ve done in the world of food and farming.
I’ve worked in the office of the YSFP and blogged a bit, and this summer I’ll likely be working with a community investment institution that studies, among other things, food access in Philadelphia.

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