Technical writer by day, local food advocate after hours

Barry Campbell ’84 demonstrates how to make a kale and strawberry salad as a food ambassador for Farmer Foodshare.

Barry Campbell ’84 has spent much of his career as a communicator, making effective, clear cases for a position or product. Most recently, he’s helping TearScience in Morrisville, an early stage medical device firm, communicate with regulators to get its eye-hydration products cleared for compliance in the United States and dozens of countries overseas.

Campbell first set his sights on a career in technical writing way back in Rufus Owens’ chemistry class at NCSSM. “He was a harsh task master when it came to lab reports,” Campbell remembers. “But I found I actually enjoyed doing it. And it turns out you can make a living explaining things.”

He also likes the small, start-up nature of TearScience, with focused teams and a sense that his contribution makes a difference. “Science and Math kind of ruined me for the big company experience. After you do hard things with small groups of people, it’s hard to go back.”

A self-described foodie, Campbell volunteers his time as a food ambassador for Farmer Foodshare, a Durham-based non-profit that connects “people who grow food with people who need food.” The organization buys fresh produce from small, local farms and supplies it to local food banks and agencies serving people in need. As a food ambassador, Campbell uses his explaining skills to teach people easy, economical ways to prepare the local produce.

“A lot of people know exactly what to do with fresh produce, but other people don’t know, or you just want new ideas. When you cook something and put it on a plate and people eat it up, it’s great instant feedback.”

On a recent Sunday morning, Campbell demonstrated how to prepare a kale and roasted strawberry salad to parishioners at Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill. The church is studying the connection between food and faith, Campbell says.

“Any time you can get people to eat a kale salad, that’s a success,” he laughs. “We prepared enough for 100 people and there wasn’t any left. It’s a huge score when you see a kid eating a kale salad.”

Lari Powell Hatley, Farmer Foodshare’s development director, noted that Campbell showed his Unicorn pride by wearing an NCSSM polo shirt to the Chapel of the Cross demonstration. “To be honest, I just threw it on, but I do have Unicorn pride,” he says. “Going to Science and Math was basically a life-changing experience.”

After a busy day at work and his wife out of town, Campbell was planning on “cheating” for dinner by frying up two eggs and pairing them with local greens and a glass of wine. “I haunt the farmers markets, I’m a big believer in eating local. I really believe in local agriculture, community resiliency. and in trying to solve our problems locally.”

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