INTERVIEW WITH SUSTAINABILITY AMBASSADOR | MANUELA MANDL
We caught up with FWT rider and sustainability ambassador Manuela Mandl to find out how she used her time in lockdown to create her own vegetable garden and we picked her brains for her favourite mountain snack recipe
Hey Manuela, so I’ve heard you got a new hobby during the first lockdown can you talk a bit more about that?
I was lucky enough to live in a house with a garden and have some motivated flatmates who started to dig and make some flower beds. We grew zucchinis, tomatoes, herbs, eggplants, green beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, salad and there is an apple tree.
When did you start to get interested in growing your own vegetables and why?
We had already grown some zuccini and tomatoes in our garden last year. My grandma has her own patch of farmland too and gave me cucumber plants and seeds for green beans and a lot of helpful advice. She was stoked to see our cucumber plants in Innsbruck being so productive. It's so rewarding to grow your own food and see how you can get heaps of food from just a little seed with comparable little effort. Nature is a real miracle.
Are you self-sufficient on the vegetables side?
That would be nice, but I haven't really got organized with storing the veggies for winter. I started to get into fermentation to conserve some of the veggies, especially to deal with the total overload of zucchini, but that's just at the very beginning. In Summer we didn't need to buy any veggies at all though, and that's just from a rather small patch of maybe 25m² for a flat of 5 people and being total beginners in gardening.
What’s the most important for you when you choose your food and why?
For me it's really important to know where my food is coming from and that it's as regional as possible and also organic. I think organic should become the new normal, as conventional agricultural production uses a lot of pesticides. Those chemicals have such a negative effect on biodiversity, so I urge everyone to buy as much of the food organic as possible. In the EU there is a European wide certification and logo which you can find on the packaging. When buying regional that safes heaps of emissions, as the food doesn't need to travel as far and supports the local economy too. There are so many farmers markets nowadays, but many farms also do direct sales.
Nutrition is an important topic for you as an athlete, has it always been or did you become aware of it?
I was always quite aware about nutrition, and I love preparing my own food with a great variety of tastes and ingredients. Also I'm quite lucky to come from a family, where cooking is celebrated. If you admire tastes and food, healthy nutrition comes naturally. Still, it's a very complex topic, and I keep learning more and more. Especially after injuries, nutrition plays such an important role for a fast recovery. There are so many anti-inflammable ingredients and ways of cooking.
Is that a challenge to keep on having a sustainable eating pattern when you travel from one competition to another (ex- hotel food, different countries eating habits …) and what solutions did you find to keep your eating habits while travelling?
That's a huge challenge! And I honestly haven't found solutions for all aspects of my diet during traveling. I bring my own home-made energy bars and also take nutritional supplements. Additionally, I travel with an array of anti-inflammable spices like cinnamon and turmeric and try to make wise choices with the available hotel food. I'm far away from perfect but try and eat as variable as possible. However, most of the times I end up eating much more animal products than I ever would at home. It's weird, that meat still has a high symbolic meaning and seems to be regarded of higher value in restaurants menus than vegetables.
Can you give us your favorite recipe for a day out in the mountain?
I love my homemade nut power bars, because they are so tasty. To have energy during sports use more chopped dried fruit and less nuts, as the fat contained in the nuts is a bit too heavy on the stomach during sports. They are a great energy source for longer adventures too, and are glutenfree, but not vegan. The Recipe is super easy, variable and can be adjusted to your own taste – or to the things you have at home.
200 grams of grounded almonds, 100 grams grounded hazelnuts, 3 eggs, a handful of dried dates, a handful of dried plums, 2 handful of raisins, 1 tsp gingerbread spice, a small piece of ginger, extra cinnamon, lemon zest of 2 organic lemons, a pinch of salt optional: dried figs, dried cranberries, chia seeds, honey, orangeat, zitronat, bits of dark chocolate,
Chop all the dried fruit super small, put the grounded nuts, spices, lemon zest and salt in a big bowl and stir a bit, so the spices and lemon zest get evenly spread, add all the finely chopped dried fruit and see that they are evenly distributed.Put in the eggs and mix everything. The output should be a somewhat sticky mixture. Form that into either balls and press them into a cookie shape or form bars. But baking paper on tray and heat up the oven to 170°C, bake for app. 20Min until the top gets slightly brown. Let your bars cool down and store them in a box.
Sustainability is not only in your plate but also the field you are enrolled at university am I wrong?
Sustainability is an important part of Architecture too, as the construction industry is causing too many emissions but also buildings and urban planning literally form the way we live. A fitting built environment can help having a sustainable lifestyle too. By, eg. Reducing necessary commutes.In the last decades we faced a rapid worldwide urbanization, in places far beyond of what is sustainable for humans and nature. With the rapid development of our means of communication and working together despite not being in the same actual place, we now have the possibility to take totally different ways of living into account too, while still being 'productive' in the ongoing economic system. At the same time our need for energy is rising, while we try to stop using fossil fuels, so it's quite interesting to think about renewable energy production too.That being said: Every life choice affects our impact on the environment. From the way you live, how you travel, which bank account you have to what you eat. I really believe, that if we all think a little more, we can have a great quality of life while still not destroying the planet.
Thanks Manuela and good luck on the tour!