2 Knox Students Run Food Stand Focused on Sustainability

October 12, 2012

Evan Lewitus and YJ Yi at Back2Basics Food Stand

by Laura Pochodylo '14

Nestled among the booths of local farmers and vendors at the 2012 Galesburg Farmers' Market, two Knox College students have been operating their own stand, cooking up sustainably produced food.

YJ Yi, a senior from Seattle, Washington, and Evan Lewitus, a senior from Annapolis, Maryland, make up the Back2Basics Food Stand team. They share interests in sustainable food systems and utilizing healthy, local ingredients. (Photo above: Evan Lewitus, left, and YJ Yi prepare food at Back2Basics stand at the Galesburg Farmers' Market.)

"I try to show the customers at the farmers' market that cooking with local produce can be easy and delicious," said Yi, an English literature major. "Our menu is never the same because we try to use local, seasonal ingredients. We cook on-site for most of our menu because we try to keep things as fresh as we can."

Back2Basics has featured such fare as breakfast burritos, vegetable scones, sausage sandwiches, and seasonal vegetable kabobs.Food from Back2Basics Food Stand

Yi's interest in cooking and food systems blossomed during her time at Knox. She has worked as a sous chef at En Season Café in Galesburg, writes a food blog, and hopes to one day own a food truck business.

"I want to support sustainable businesses and hopefully pursue a career in my own sustainable food business," Yi said. "Currently, I am doing my senior research on starting a catering system in Wisconsin."

Lewitus and Yi are committed to contributing to the community at the market, and to the local food scene in general.

"I enjoy providing nutritional food to people and the whole (idea of) supporting local economies," said Lewitus, who has one major in anthropology-sociology and a self-designed major in food systems. "The local farmers are really nice people, and they really do deserve a little more attention and popularity."

He is considering a career in food systems development.

YJ Yi at Back2Basics Food StandYi said she continues to learn more about cooking and local agriculture, making time to work outside of Knox and interact with farmers and other people with "mutual food interests." She believes a strong connection with the Galesburg community has enriched her education.

"Farmers love it when you come out to volunteer on their farm, and it has helped me so much to understand what grows locally and how difficult it can be to plan out a season's harvest," Yi said. "All of my connections in the community have helped me better understand the nutritional value in local food, and the feeling of achievement in the produce you harvest, (and) also, from a business perspective, what's marketable."

Both Lewitus and Yi said their interest in sustainability issues developed largely because of environmental studies classes they've taken at Knox.

Running a food stand, acquiring permits, and writing a business plan have all been helpful learning experiences for the pair.

"Before entering this business, I never knew it would be so hard to get permits and certificates for running a food stand," Yi said. "It has definitely helped me plan for starting my own food truck business in the future."

Evan Lewitus and YJ Yi at Back2Basics Food Stand