Instant Inspiration: Silas Conroy
Owner, Crooked Carrot & Whalecat Doughnuts
I’m Silas Conroy, co-founder and owner of the Crooked Carrot–a local foods processor here in Ithaca, NY. I studied Engineering Science at Penn State before falling in love with food and food system issues. I spent the first 5 years of my 20s in a self-styled apprenticeship throughout local food jobs–from restaurant management to truck driving to managing organic vegetable production. In 2011, I founded the Crooked Carrot with Jesse and Johanna Brown with the goal of learning something about business and contributing to the local food system. Today, my job at the Crooked Carrot varies every year, but I spend most of my time talking with local farmers and working on logistics. I actually love making spreadsheets–they are kind of like an adult version of legos for me–truly let my inner nerd shine. At this point, the vision for the Crooked Carrot is not just a pickle business, but as an agent of local food development–we’re now engaged in so many exciting and challenging projects–from fermentation classes to renting our shared use kitchen to produce aggregation from local farms for clients we work with regionally. I feel deeply blessed to get to work on these important problems and with so many wonderful people.
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
What turns me on most is a feeling of connectivity through storytelling. I love to see the ways stories weave us together–whether it’s local gossip, natural history, or the “story” of food along it’s pathway from farm to eater.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? What profession would you not like to do?
Great question–I feel like I keep trying new professions every year within our business. But if I was going to do something totally different, maybe I’d like to be an artist or architect!
If you could go back and tell your 18-year-old self one thing, what would it be?
I would say to relax and find ways to experience life more. I’d suggest spending less time on school work and more time working or having fun. My 18-year old self would likely not listen, but I believe passion can lead to occupation.
If you had a motto (or a mantra), what would it be?
Breathe deeply. Can you let go of anything you’re holding on to? I stole this one from the amazing local yoga teacher, Illana Berman. Until she asked, I don’t think I realized how many stresses in life were of my own making.
If you could cook a meal for any one person, living or dead, who would they be and what would you cook?
I would cook for my romantic partner Rachel–she always cooks the most amazing, nourishing food for me!
Name one thing that you have tried to grow, raise, produce or cook that was a surprising success? A total failure?
Last year, we fermented a new sauerkraut made with cabbage, burdock root, nettles, and garlic! It has a unique flavor and it’s incredibly nutrient dense! We’ve had so many failures, it’s difficult to pick one! Obsessed with rainbows, we recently tried to create a fermented “rainbow” kimchi with kale, carrots, watermelon radishes, and purple daikon–it was not enjoyable.
Name 3 things in nature that you find beautiful.
Trees flowering in the spring, foxes, the vastness of the ocean.
Are you an early bird or a night owl? What time of the day do you feel the most energetic and what do you usually do in those moments?
Maybe right in the middle? I am usually most energetic 9am-10:30am–I try to do the hardest things on my list at that time.
What is something you love to make?
What is your favorite word? What is your least favorite word?
Least Favorite: Delish
Instant Inspiration introduces you to an eclectic array of folks in our area connected with food and farming. We hope you find them and their work inspiring! Contact us if you’d like to be featured! Read other Instant Inspiration posts by clicking on the “Instant Inspiration” category tag above.
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