Christopher A. West, Private Service Professional

When I was a child, my parents dressed me in the color red and my identical twin brother, Tim, in blue. They did this because even they had a hard time telling us apart. As successful as that system was, getting two teenaged boys to dress in color coordinated outfits presents a different (if not impossible) challenge and, thus, the tradition was dropped as we grew older.  In the ensuing confusion, Tim and I would constantly have to remind people “I am Chris, not Tim” or “I am Tim not Chris" - struggling to differentiate ourselves and to find some individuality.   A move that, unfortunately, pushed us further and further away from each other. 

However, when one shares the same DNA with another person, it's hard to stay divided.  As we outgrew our divergent adolescence, we found our way back into each others lives and, at time same time, stumbled across a shared passion that would serve to bring us even closer together as the years went by.  

In 2001, Tim and I were working at a cafe in an old train station outside of New York City. Although otherwise un-noteworthy in a saga of odd-jobs, this cafe had an inspiring lunchtime tradition; we would gather around the long communal table and break bread with the people who grew, prepared, cooked and served our food.  And the food, having come from a local organic farm just up the road, had flavor, power and integrity. This particular farm specialized in heritage breed animals, heirloom produce and aquaponic systems - blending the three together with a closed loop greenhouse that used the waste from the animals to feed the plants in a harmonious cycle. 

The food that was grown on that farm had a short trip to the cafe table we were gathered around.  And in sitting there, learning more about the food we were eating and enjoying the freshness of the food on our plates, Tim and I realized that there was a very special culture here, and we wanted to be a part of it.  That day Tim and I found something special ... we found real food.