For the Very First Time, We Saw Where Our Food Comes From

A trip to Nestle and to Muir Ranch gets the Pathfinder Fellows thinking about where their food comes from.

Growing up in the neighborhoods we've grown up in, we've never had a chance to see where our food comes from or how it's created, and we've never seen an actual farm. That all changed in the eighth week of the Pathfinder Fellowship. We visited Nestle Corporation and headed to an urban farm, Muir Ranch in Pasadena.

We initially thought that Nestle only makes chocolate, but we quickly discovered that they're one of the biggest companies in this world and every year they sell around $1 billion worth of food products—everything from bottled water, breakfast cereals, coffee, confectionery, dairy products, ice cream, pet food and last but not least candy.

When we arrived in at Nestle, we were greeted by Stephen Leach, who is their manager of community relations. He shared with us a bit about how he got to Nestle and offered us some wise advice. "You never know who you meet down the road and before you know it those will be the people that might hire you for your next job in the future," he said. He also shared that you never know when you are being evaluated for a job so it’s important to always act your best and be professional wherever you go, whether its walking to the store or even just going on a lunch break with someone.

We then met Erika McNeil, who is a workforce diversity specialist at Nestle. McNeil had a career and business etiquette workshop for us to participate in. We got to learn and practice how to interview, how to be professional, and how to network. We learned that when you're interviewing you have to use what’s called the STAR method: Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

Next, Bianca Cornello, who is a marketing associate, shared how she got to a big company like Nestle and then told us what it takes to make a new product. We learned that you have to come up with a shape, name, packaging style, a formula, and the factory that will be making the product. Cornello told us that there will be times where you fail but that's just how things are when it comes to products. We also got to see and taste a new product, "Butterfinger Cups" that should be coming out next year. We each received a pack for ourselves and it’s good. We then took a tour through Nestle—one floor even had nothing but Willy Wonka products. Once the tour was over they surprised us with big bags full of gifts and we even got to a certificate so that we could shop at the Nestle store.

In the afternoon, we headed to Muir Ranch, which is on the campus of John Muir High School. The ranch is sponsored by the Pasadena Educational Foundation and run by Mud Baron. When we arrived, Baron introduced himself and explained how the food gets grown on the farm. He told us that the vegetables and fruit that they grow are included in weekly CSA subscription boxes as well as the high school's cafeteria lunches. We were in such shock to see so many fresh fruits and vegetables! It made us feel hungry and very eager to start eating and working.

As we made our way through the fruit patch Baron pointed us in the direction of where to plant our food. We each were assigned roles, ranging from sprinkling the seeds to using a garden hoe to cover them up. It turns out that the ranch also grows flowers so after we were done planting Baron asked us if we wanted to make a bouquet. We each go to make one, and it was picking out different flowers and, like florists, creating designs with them. This Vine that Baron uploaded will give you an idea what a great time we had:

We might not end up being farmers or designing candy, but overall, the visit to Nestle and to Muir Ranch, and the ideas and information we learned, made us reflect on not just how we prepare for interviewing in the real world, but about how how our food is produced. We came away with two big questions: What if every kid could see what goes into making food products? And what if every school gave up at least some of its land so that more kids could get involved community gardens? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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Desiray Figueroa and Airren Kirk are two members of the Pathfinder Fellowship, a joint effort of GOOD/Corps and The California Endowment. They're working as interns with GOOD's community team.