A Backroad Planet interview. On a drive to Canada from Mexico, two entrepreneurs are set to film a video series about local farmers and food businesses they encounter along the way.
At Backroad Planet we love to share the stories of intriguing people who embark on epic journeys. In the past, we have featured Nathan Kolk who did a 13,000-mile summer road trip around the United States, Adrian Marziliano who is biking from Chile to Canada to raise awareness for a charitable cause, and David Hayes who biked the Southern Tier as a way to begin reinventing his life.
Recently, I learned about a young couple who are about to drive across North America and film a video series during their two-month road trip. Before leaving, the team sat down to talk about their travel plans, why they are so passionate about local food, and to share advice with travelers who want to film their own adventures.
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Transcontinental: A Backroad Planet Interview
Howard: Hi guys! Tell me a bit about yourselves.
Caroline: My name is Caroline Kamm. I am a 23-year-old entrepreneur and writer. I have spent several years in the food and farming industry, doing a range of work from farmers market sales to farm research in Belgium. After graduating from the University of Toronto last year, I moved to Monterrey, Mexico, so that Rick and I could launch our local food start-up.
Rick: I am Ricardo Martinez, or Rick for short. I am a 27-year old sculptor, web designer, and entrepreneur. I grew up in Mexico and at age 21 I left to work and study internationally. After earning my Masters degree in sculpture and founding two start-ups abroad, I finally returned to my home country this year.
Howard: I understand you are embarking on a major road trip this summer, plus filming a video series en route.
Caroline: That’s right. This fall we are moving to Toronto, and the opportunity for a road trip was just too good to pass up. Not only would it be an incredible journey, but we also wanted to find a way to travel with our dog Frijol, without having to stick him in the bottom of a plane.
We decided that if we were going to drive to Canada from Mexico, we should make something meaningful out of the journey. So we developed The Food Less Traveled, a video series exploring local food across North America.
Rick: The series will look at ten different local food initiatives between Monterrey and Toronto. We really want to spotlight specific farmers and organizations that are developing creative solutions to the big issues in our collective food system.
Howard: And what does your route look like? What are some of your stops?
Caroline: We will be traveling through northern Mexico, most of the southern and eastern United States, all the way to Ontario, Canada. In total we will be driving more than 3,000 miles during the months of July and August.
Rick: In Mexico, we are starting with Guadalajara, which is a major city south of Monterrey. It is a bit off our path, but it is becoming one of Mexico’s greenest and most unique cities.
Howard: Seriously? I lived in Guadalajara during my eighth-grade year in 1971-72, while my missionary parents were attending Spanish language school, decades before both of you were born. It was a great foodie city, even then. I will never forget the fragrance of a tortillería, nor the rich flavors of tamales and pozole.
Rick: Very cool that you have spent time there! Guadalajara is one of my favorite Mexican cities.
Caroline: In the USA, our big city stops will be in Houston, New Orleans, Atlanta, Charleston, Charlotte, and Washington. Of course, we will be stopping in a lot of small towns along the way.
Howard: New Orleans and Washington, DC, are two of my favorite foodie cities. So why the interest in local food?
Caroline: Local food has always been a personal passion of mine, and it is definitely a movement on the rise in North America. There are a lot of major problems in the food system, way too many for me to go into here, but I think local food systems offer incredible ways to address many of the issues.
As a traveler, food is also a great way to get to know a place. You can discover so much about a new city or town through the food they grow, cook, and eat. For us, local food is about building community, strengthening local economies, understanding culture, and working toward a sustainable future.
Howard: What inspired you to combine your passion for food and travel this way?
Rick: With so many people freelancing or working remotely, travel isn’t just about “vacation” anymore. If we can turn our travels into a personal project like this, it might mean work while on the road, but it is also a rewarding way to see lots of new places.
Caroline: I think it also goes with the territory of initiating a start-up. It kind of takes over your life. I mean that in a good way, but if you pour yourself into working on something in particular, you start to see everything through that lens.
Howard: What were some of the biggest hurdles for you when planning this road trip?
Caroline: With turning this road trip into a video series in particular, two of the biggest challenges were funding and promotion. Right from the beginning we started reaching out to people and organizations that work in food, travel, and sustainability, trying to get them onboard as collaborators in the project. After a lot of hard work, emails, and cold-calls, we have managed to compile a growing list of ten collaborators and sponsors.
Rick: Starting something like this can be pretty scary if you are working from the ground up. You are selling an idea and the expertise of your team, without having a complete project yet. But we came into it with the conviction that this is a story that needs to be told, and we are happy to have found so many like-minded people.
To other people looking for sponsorship in their travels, I would say just go for it. The first couple of calls and emails are scary, but if you keep the pressure on, you can get some great results.
Howard: Financing is a major concern for most travelers, road trips in particular. What are your plans to keep the costs manageable on the trip?
Caroline: Luckily, we are both outdoor lovers, so we don’t have 5-star hotel expectations. We will be traveling with camping gear, and we plan to spend most of our nights on public land or at campsites.
We will also be staying on organic farms along the way. In our series, we are working with WWOOF, an organization that sets travelers up with organic farmers to learn about growing food. In exchange for working on the farm, you receive room and board, which is great for explorers who want to learn and travel on a low budget.
Rick: Another big issue is food. We have researched farm stands along the way and plan to travel with fresh fruits and veggies from all the farmers we meet. It’s a great way to support local farmers, and farm stands are also an affordable way to get fresh produce.
Howard: What do you want people to take away from the video series?
Caroline: A big thing for me is the importance of farming. With so many people living in cities, they don’t really come in contact with farmers on a daily basis. Having a connection to the person who grows your food and knowing how it is produced can make a huge difference in what you choose to eat, your appreciation for food, and overall health. I want everyone to hear the stories farmers have to share, to better understand their perspectives.
Rick: On the travel side, we want to embolden people to go out of their comfort zones and put together projects like this one. Developing a travel video project is so satisfying, but I think many people are hesitant to really go for it. If you are passionate about something, and you want to travel, just commit 100% and you will find a way to make it happen.
Howard: Thanks for sharing your passion and travel plans with our readers. How can they follow your adventures?
Caroline: All of our videos, photos, and blog posts will be published on The Food Less Traveled website, but the best way to keep up with us during our journey is through our Instagram account. We will also be posting on Twitter and Facebook every step of the way.
We Would Love to Hear From You
We enjoy dialogue with our readers here at Backroad Planet, especially when they share off-the-beaten-path destinations and useful travel tips. Have you ever embarked on an epic road trip or initiated a start-up? If so, we would love to hear about your experience. We invite you to leave your comments and questions below, and we always respond!