MEEL's un-official beginning was in 2010...
My twins were 2-years-old, and I wanted to foster their healthy development through good nutritional choices. I also wanted to foster a closeness for our family through a shared love of food. That made sense to me because I come from a family of foodies. My grandparents and great-grandparents were full-time farmers, growing and preserving almost everything they consumed. And I was fortunate to grow up in a home where the family dinner was sacrosanct.
While I always appreciated good food, it wasn't until my early 20s that my palate fully awakened. I stumbled upon an early issue of Martha Stewart Living with its gorgeous typography and abundance of culinary ideas and was, in short, totally inspired. I became an avid food magazine subscriber and cookbook collector, and I began entertaining: trying out new recipes on friends and family, baking pies for neighbors, crafting little bundles of food to leave on doorsteps. And I worked in restaurants, often sneaking into the kitchen to acquire new ideas and skills.
A passion for world travel further complemented and encouraged this connection to the culinary world... from learning to make tofu in central Java, experiencing the art of cicchetti in the back canals of Venice, or baking naan in a tandoori barrel in rural Rajasthan, food became a central part of my life.
In 2003, my husband and I joined one of Nashville's first CSAs, Hill and Hollow Farm, evolving our culinary habits to fit a seasonal rhythm. Once our children were born, I began taking even greater care and pride in preparing good food—real food—with a connection to exactly how it had arrived on our plate. Driven by a desire to temper the frenetic pace of life and a belief that nutrition has a significant impact on mental and physical wellness, we began to prioritize the family dinner. That’s where the idea for the MEEL plan came in. I was already making weekly organic granola to sell at our local farmers market, but recognized a more profound need in the community. Customers needed help eating together, eating well and eating local. Thus MEEL was born.
WHAT'S IN A NAME
The name MEEL is derived from my twins names, EMMA and ELLIOT. When it comes to food, they have been my muse for healthy habits. I have always referred to them as "EM" and "EL" for short... a little rearranging of the letters and you have MEEL. Interestingly, MEEL is also a Dutch term for flour or farinaceous, something that has sustained cultures for centuries.
And that’s what MEEL is: a sustainable way to foster our health, one nutritious meal together at a time.
Marti Emch, founder