We're inspired by how Macala followed her heart and went after big dreams in a year when many of us (understandably) want to stay in bed with the covers pulled up over our heads. In the midst of change, the opportunity arose to embrace a lifestyle Macala always dreamed of having, one surrounding horses and food.
Read on to discover why she left LA and how she found Snohomish County!
Where does your story begin?
I’m a woman who loves cowboy boots, bow hunting, and wide-open spaces. Growing up, my family owned and operated a 1200-acre farm in Minnesota that was dedicated to livestock and crop production. Like many girls who grow up in small towns, my mother longed for city life so she moved us when she had a chance. While living in cities like Los Angeles, Seattle and Las Vegas were exciting, they never really suited me. My heart was always homesick for the open spaces so I took roadtrips whenever I could.
In 2015, I couldn’t deny my heart any longer. I left life in large cities and began to explore small towns in Washington. It’s where I found Duvall, Fall City, Carnation and Snohomish. But California called me back so I left Washington. In October 2019, during a trip back to Snohomish County, I was walking a trail I’d ventured down so many times with my dogs along the Tolt River in Carnation on a visit to reset the soul and I finally decided to scale back the company I’d built to focus on the three things I truly loved to do –– horses, food and storytelling.
I started making the shift gradually but COVID brought my world to blinding halt like so many other people. I sat in a corner and started to cry because of just how out of control the world felt. This March, I put my house in California up for sale, left most of what I owned, put my dogs in the car and drove back to Washington as it was the only place I could imagine living. I removed anything personal or professional in my life that didn’t focus on food, horses or storytelling.
Within six weeks of coming back, I started getting connected in the farm and food communities here, found a ranch, started working on it, then that didn’t work out, so I found another ranch, and it’s going great.
What has brought you into the world of food? How has this changed over time?
What led me to food was having to go back to California. I decided if I had to go, then I was going to secretly deepen my understanding of something I loved (food). I thought I was going to study nutrition (as weight, health and body image have always been a challenge for me), and better learn about the role of food within our diets, but it became so much more than that.
Instead, I found myself learning about soil science and how to raise livestock. I apprenticed on small ranches for three years in exchange for their knowledge. One of my first things I could do on a ranch was castrate a goat! I learned so much, and the more I learned, the more I feel in love with the production of food. I also learned how wrong so many consumer perceptions of ranchers and producers are, so I started to share those stories because it’s so misunderstood.
Over time, I’ve found things I seem to be more talented and simply love more than other aspects of food, so I’ve focused on those moving forward. Right now, the ranch I lease has a long unattended orchard of fruit trees. I’m working very hard to work on their health so that next year, they produce more edible fruit.
And I get to have my horses there. When it comes to food, I’ve come to learn that there are many ways to end, and there is no one right way to do something. I am honored to know people who grow food -- no matter how they grow it. With so many people that are food insecure at this moment, I commend anyone providing for basic needs.
What does kinship in the context of food mean to you? How has food served as a connector for you?
Food is much more than something that we put into mouths. For me it’s energetic. It ties me to the ground I am standing on, it brings conscious awareness of how my body is feeling as I digest it, and most of all, it’s the one thing I use to show love to the people in my life.
If I invite you to a meal and cook for you, it’s because our relationship is important to me and I want to help nurture it -- literally and figuratively. Food isn’t just a physical thing to me, it’s deeper than that –– it’s also something that connects my heart to soul. If I offer you food I’ve grown or offer to cook for you, it’s my way of saying, “I want you in my life and I want to be in yours.”
What is your favorite fruit and/or vegetable? And/or ideal meal?
I’m such a California girl when it comes to my favorites. Pomegranates, figs and grapes. I’m planning on planting/growing figs next year and even getting some grapes going. I also want to grow okra, shisitos and long beans.
My ideal meal is usually a charcuterie plate. I'm a bit of a grazer like my horses. I love chorizo, finocchiona, jamon iberico, coppa, prosciutto, soppressata and most cured meats. Just put them on a board with fruit and nuts and I’m in heaven. At some point, I’m going to figure out how to collaborate with my friend Lulu at Feral Woman Farm to possibly produce this here (she’s a butcher and we both love artisanal pork). I’m also a big fan of anything that can be roasted or grilled within a squash.
My most favorite receipt comes from the book Dishing Up The Dirt: Simple Recipes for Cooking Through the Seasons, by Andrea Bemis. Since we’re entering fall, I love to roast squash and create simple, but deeply flavorful recipes. She has many recipes to make squash decadent. My favorite is Autumn Spiced Pork Sausage and Kale-stuffed Squash. Since squash and newly butchered pork is abundant right now, I highly recommend it.
*Use this recipe as a guide *Adjust measurements and ingredients as necessary
Photos by Macala Wright, Victoria Barajas Horsemanship and Ashlyn Coleal.