Volunteer of the Month: Yuki Tatsumi

February 22, 2024

Yuki Tatsumi poses with a cauliflower at Foodwise's Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco.

Foodwise relies on volunteers and interns to help with education programs, and other activities that help fulfill our mission to grow thriving communities through the power and joy of local food. Learn more about internships here and volunteer opportunities here. You can also sign up for our next volunteer orientation on June 8, 2024, here.

Yuki Tatsumi’s deeply personal connection to food and the environment inspired her to pursue her studies in sustainability and bring these lessons to some of our youngest eaters in our Foodwise Kids program. “We are so thankful to have the support of consistent volunteers like Yuki,” says Foodwise Kids Manager Nesley Rojo. “From start to finish she has a positive attitude, supports set up, leads her group of students through the market, reminding them to remain curious and open minded, and encourages them to be brave while trying new seasonal produce.”

Meet Yuki.

Foodwise: Where does your food interest come from? 

Yuki: I have always loved food, ever since I was a little kid. My family is very into cooking and eating together, and we have a lot of fun trying new recipes and cuisines. But my interest in food goes beyond just taste and pleasure. I also care deeply about how food affects our health and happiness. This is because my father passed away from cancer when I was nine years old. I realized then that what we eat has a direct impact on our overall well-being. That’s why I decided to dedicate myself to learning more about nutrition and wellness and to share that knowledge with others. I firmly believe that food can be a powerful tool to heal ourselves and the planet.

Foodwise: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for Foodwise?

Yuki: I’m a graduate student working on my Masters in Sustainable Development. I also help spread the word about plant-based solutions that are good for people and the planet as a digital marketing (social media) intern. I’ve always loved nature since I was a kid and had the chance to swim with wild dolphins in the ocean. It was an amazing experience that made me appreciate the beauty and diversity of life on Earth and inspired me to protect it. I learned that our current food system is one of the biggest threats to our environment because it damages our land, water, and climate. I think we can find solutions by using science and local knowledge, and by collaborating with people who care about our food system, like local farmers.

Foodwise: Why did you choose to volunteer with us at this time? 

Yuki: I have always admired Foodwise for its effective and innovative approach to connecting farmers and restaurants and educating the local community about sustainable food choices. One of my inspirations is my dear friend and former Foodwise volunteer, Amelia Spilger, who wrote a wonderful book called North Bay Farmers Markets Cookbook. She said: “It’s important to have daily opportunities to create tangible change. Your choice to eat food that is good for you, good for the farmer, good for the community, good for the land, and ultimately good for the planet is a decision that rewards both your senses and your sense of what’s right.”

I share this philosophy, and I want to contribute to Foodwise’s mission. I am eager to learn more about sustainable agriculture and how to support it in the local area. Additionally, I enjoy meeting new amazing people I met at Foodwise, who have become my friends. I moved to San Francisco last year without knowing anyone, but thanks to Foodwise, I found a welcoming and inspiring community here.

Foodwise: What has been most rewarding about your experience with Foodwise?

Yuki: The highlight of the experience is when the kids show up, and we get to have fun with them. We take them to the farmers market where they pick fruits and vegetables. I think it’s vital for children at their age to have a chance to talk to farmers directly. This helps them to know what they eat and where it comes from. Then, we teach them how to sample different foods and how to share their opinions politely. It’s really amazing to see their faces when they try something new or yummy using all five senses. What motivates me to come back is the kids’ laughter, curiosity and joy when they find a new favorite food or praise produce as the best one they’ve ever had, like white corn! Every class is unique and full of wonders.

Foodwise: What does Foodwise mean to you? 

Yuki: I enjoy being a Foodwise volunteer because it allows me to spread my love for healthy eating, and sustainable and local farming with children. Foodwise is a place where you feel welcome and appreciated. People at the market offer not only tasty and healthy food but also kindness that expects nothing in return. When I went to Ferry Plaza Farmers Market as a customer, some farmers recognized me as a Foodwise volunteer and gave me discounts or free veggies. I have received so much warmth, honesty, and affection from the community.

Volunteering with Foodwise is a rewarding way to contribute to the community and gain new insights into sustainable agriculture at the same time. The Foodwise team is very supportive and friendly. It’s a wonderful way to be part of this amazing community!

Foodwise: Any favorite farmers market foods or home meal prep tips you want to share? 

Yuki: I love going to the farmers market and finding new ways to cook at home. Some of the foods that I enjoy the most are from Green Thumb Farms, a local business that cares about the environment and always greets me with warm smiles. They have the most colorful, freshest, and tastiest fruits and vegetables that I’ve ever had! You should try their products if you haven’t already. Another food that I can’t get enough of is Aedan‘s Consomme Koji, which is a fermented seasoning that Tiffany showed me. It makes everything more flavorful and satisfying, whether it’s pasta, soup, curry, or steamed veggies. It’s truly a game-changer!

Foodwise volunteers, Kat and Yuki, pose with a group of Foodwise Kids next to a farmers market stand full of persimmons.

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