Joanna Manousis marries heaven and earth in her glassworks, creating imaginative and functional pieces that speak to the beauty of food, nature and everyday living. Besides being an artist, Joanna values cooking good food for family and friends and savoring new flavors. Her and her husband, Zac, create artisanal cocktail glasses and dishware and are based in Clintonville. Intrigued by her glasswork and the few meals we've had together, I caught up with Joanna to learn about her relationship to making food and making art.

Q: What interests you about representing food and nature in an artistic context, particularly in glasswork?

A: I often reappropriate forms from nature in my work, such as fruits and plants, due to their symbology in past histories. Creating readily recognizable motifs of the everyday can act as a universal language that speaks to a mass audience regardless of class, ethnicity, race or gender. I enjoy this open dialogue.

Glass is an incredible material that can be manipulated in ways that defy its association to utilitarian form. I often employ multiple technical strategies in cast, blown and lamp-worked glass in order to recreate natural objects, yet through their changed materiality, placement and relationship to other objects, bring a fresh narrative that often speaks of the human condition, memory and the rhythmic passage of time. 

Q: You’re also a cook and a baker. What’s the relationship between making food and making art for you?

A: There are many similarities between the act of casting glass into a mold and baking. Firstly, you start with the raw materials, which are measured precisely. And then with a series of technical guidelines, time, patience and heat you achieve a desired result. 

With all the recent news about Vermont soon becoming the first state in the U.S. to require the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food, we wanted to highlight what the Truth in Labeling Coalition is calling "The Tremendous Ten."

We wanted to share our article about foraging for wild edibles in Central Ohio from last year's spring issue. For those of you looking to forage this season, it offers some wise tips and a list of wild edibles that grow in the area, including ramps, violets and dandelions. Colleen Leonardi

As spring rolls out her fresh, tender young leaves of green, local forager Julie Huff can't wait to get outside and start harvesting some hardy purslane or delicate rose petals. Early in the season, claims Julie, wild edibles "just taste a little bit better. To get the young leaves that are so good, like dandelion greens. The young ones are just so tender and fresh. As the season goes on they get more bitter, but nothing beats the first springtime."

Julie has been foraging all of her life—while she was growing up at her family's home and now in her backyard in Clintonville. "I remember being a little kid and finding violets and eating those," she says. "And chives."

Julie's community of friends trade foraging secrets and forage in each other's backyards. "It's definitely a community thing," she says. Backyards are best, she claims, because foraging in Columbus' Metro Parks, Ohio State Parks and on private property is illegal. And it's important to be aware of additional toxins in the soil and on the plants where you choose to forage.

When it comes to healthy eating, Green BEAN Delivery has been an innovator since 2007, using their online platform to deliver mostly local and organic produce and goods to homes across the Midwest. They've expanded that mission with a new wellness program that partners with Columbus businesses to improve the health and wellness of employees. Green BEAN Delivery now drops off employees' orders at participating businesses, sets up opportunities to talk to employees about healthy food options and provides recipes to help employees use the healthy produce they've purchased. Green BEAN Delivery also offers Break Room Bins, in which they provide healthy alternatives to vending machines in the office. Find out more in the following Q&A interview between our student writer Rita Skaff and Green BEAN Delivery's Vice President, John Freeland. —Leah Wolf

Rita Skaff: Why was Green BEAN Delivery started?

John Freeland: Our goal is to make healthy and sustainably grown foods affordable, accessible and convenient to the Midwest communities we serve. By working with a network of local farmers and artisans that have both urban and rural roots, Green BEAN Delivery builds food systems and businesses that address communities' greatest food challenges.

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