SAVE MONEY, EAT WELL, AND LIVE HEALTHY
WORDS: KATE WEINER
IMAGES: COURTESY of ROBYN BURGESS
For Robyn Burgess of beloved food blog Runaway Apricot, eating well is well within everyone's reach. Runaway Apricot seamlessly interweaves essays on foodways with appetizing recipes and helpful advice. Since I first learned about Runaway Apricot several months ago, the blog has been both a kind of comfort food (check out some seriously tasty food photos) and a source of empowerment. Want to be more self-sufficient in the kitchen? Robyn has got your back.
I reached out to Robyn over the phone to talk about her projects, perseverance, and the pursuit of healthy, happy eating. Although Runaway Apricot has been live online for seven years, the blog was many years in the making. "I've always been interested in food," says Robyn. "When I was a little girl, I envisioned owning a restaurant." In high school, she had a small baking operation selling cakes and cookies to classmates. It was a way to work toward her goals, make a little money, and practice her passion.
During college, however, Robyn "realized that it wasn't that I wanted to run a restaurant—I wanted to teach people how to connect with food in a meaningful way." As an Anthropology major at Columbia, Robyn found a way to tie many of her classes into food. Food is as much about the content as it is about the context, as much about culture as it is about connection. It was in this spirit that Robyn pieced together human right courses and environmental studies in her holistic approach to studying food. Runaway Apricot emerged organically over the course of her schooling as "a place to put all those different musings down." She launched the blog as a junior in college and has been working since to cultivate a conscious site for exploring mindful, budget-friendly, heart-healing eating.
Runaway Apricot also served as a channel for collaborating with NYC's many farmers, chefs, and foodies. "There are so many awesome events to go to in New York that are free where you can connect with other people in the food world," Robyn tells me. "Runaway Apricot gave me the opportunity to digest that information and connect to people."
What inspires me most about Robyn isn't just that she gets out there; it's that she stuck with Runaway Apricot even when she had a small audience. Although Runaway Apricot is a venerable success by any standards, Robyn worked hard at growing her community and developing her business. It was a good three or four years before she gained traction and she did so by diligently working on the blog, checking out events, and reaching out to inspiring individuals. "It's hard when you are starting out because it can feel as if no one is listening," Robyn notes. "Surround yourself with people who are motivating and encouraging you to do more and better. And give yourself the opportunity to practice. Blogging teaches you to become a better writer. Learn through the process."
The idea of learning through the process is particularly pertinent to cooking. You really can't figure it out until you do it. As Robyn says, "my goal is to show people what food should look like, taste like, and how to make it for yourselves." By providing people with the skills to be better cooks and the resources to be more enlightened consumers, Robyn is doing her part to nourish a new kind of cook, one who is as knowledgeable about the environmental issues surrounding food as about the ins and outs of chopping an onion.
More recently, Robyn has focused her efforts on creating the space for in-person events. Her first cooking class focused on accessible food, techniques for balancing flavors, and ways to tailor any meal to one's taste. Designed as a seventh anniversary party for the blog, the class was attended by nearly thirty people. "It was so diverse," Robyn shares of the convergence of many varied ages, skills, and cultures. The class served as an opportunity "to really share the fundamentals of healthy cooking and encourage people to pay a little bit more attention to what they're wasting in the bottom of the fridge."
Lucky for us, Robyn has plans in the works to develop more cooking classes and to refine her kitchen habits. "My continuous goal is to reduce less" Robyn says "[and that comes about through] awareness, conversation, and meaningful communication."
Join the conversation at Runaway Apricot. You'll learn how to save money, eat well, and live healthy. And have a whole lot of fun just doing it.