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Credit: @ Melissa Graham
Melissa Graham is the founding executive director of Purple Asparagus, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit whose mission is to bring families back to the table by promoting and enjoying good eating and eating that's good for the body and planet. Melissa had a successful career as a lawyer and then her son was born and it changed everything. She knew the life she had chosen (as a lawyer) was not going to fit with her image of herself now that she had stepped into motherhood. She wanted to do something that made the world better for her child and other children. So, she started a sustainable catering company (quite a leap for a lawyer with no formal culinary training), but even as her business grew, she knew this was also not enough. In 2005, Purple Asparagus was born.
Since the inception of Purple Asparagus, Melissa has played a critical role in improving the knowledge of the Chicago community, specifically children and families, about healthy and sustainable foods. Purple Asparagus has brought sustainability education to Chicago families in a number of other ways, including in partnership with the Notebaert Nature Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, FamilyFarmed.org, Green City Market and the City of Chicago, making the subject fun, engaging and delicious.
Melissa frequently speaks on child wellness and eating closer to the ground, including at the 2006 Chicago Botanic Garden Wellness Day sponsored by Prevention magazine. Melissa also regularly gives cooking classes and demonstrates recipes at venues such as Healthy Child, Healthy World's Healthy Home Event, Taste of Chicago, Chicago Gourmet, Bloomingdales, Whole Foods, the Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicagoland Flower and Garden Show, Green Parents Festival, Family Farmed Expo, Kenmore Live Studio and Naturally Healthy Childrens Expo.
Active in the sustainable community, Melissa is the membership chair of Green City Market and regularly volunteers for several food and health-related organizations, including Slow Food Chicago, FamilyFarmed.org and the Healthy Schools Campaign. Melissa is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and Chefs Collaborative.
Melissa's tireless efforts to improve the nutritional health of Chicago families and children make her a local green hero. Her strong advocacy for sustainable causes and her dedication to educate children on health and sustainability sets her apart from the rest. The growth of Purple Asparagus has allowed Melissa to achieve her goal of educating children and families about eating sustainably and eliminating processed food from diets. Her contributions to local schools and the community through Purple Asparagus are an inspiration and empower children with the tools to make quality food choices for their bodies and the planet.
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