ColumnA new year, a new commitment to food and community.
The end of 2012 was a whirlwind. In the world of current affairs, December wasn’t what you would call an uplifting month. It seemed that everything and everyone was in transition, trying to get in one last gasp of air before the end of the year. It was easy to feel overwhelmed. It was on the heels of this that I went to visit my friend Sara for a night of good food and conversation; a night of foodies so to say.
Sara is the kind of friend that immediately upon arrival points and says, “the tea and chocolate is in that cabinet,” upon which you open the pantry door to find a multitude of mason jars with whole grains and more kinds of black tea than a tea shop. In the morning your coffee is already poured. We get along well to say the least.
We had a lot to talk about. New projects and ventures. Recent cooking endeavors. What we wanted for the new year. All those topics that are best had at the end of a long week and over a meal of comfort food.
As her boyfriend cooked up a risotto with green beans and shallots (news flash: risotto is basically an upscale macaroni and cheese, with the same comfort food benefits that you need in the dark of winter), the conversation inevitably turned to politics and community. When you’re making food, it often does.
The environment? Yeah, we need to work on that.
Women’s rights? Yes, more of that too please.
Food justice? Where do we even begin?
When it comes to change, we often look to our political leaders, quickly getting upset when change doesn’t go the way we want it to. We get frustrated when things don’t go our way, upset when tragedy strikes and angry at the current state of affairs. What is the way to change that? Build community. Interact with our friends and neighbors. Help someone who doesn’t have a meal.
Food brings us together, and as Sara pointed out, there’s a true benefit to what she called, “kitchen table connections.”
“It’s not macro or micro, but kitchen table,” she said. This idea of the kitchen table as a place not only for conversation, but for affecting change, stuck with me.
Just like the town hall was once a meeting place and epicenter of community building, maybe in our over digitized, high-paced world, the kitchen table is the place for us to reconnect. Not just a place to think about what we’re eating, but also who we’re eating it with.
So many things in this world are beyond our control. What is in our control? Making our community better. Having perspective. Helping a friend. Celebrating the present. Respecting others. Showing kindness. These are things that we can all do–and we should all be doing more of.
In the new year, it’s time for renewal. A reconnection to living well, but also sharing that with others. For me, the kitchen table is the place to start. A place where we focus not only on food, and where it comes from, but being in the moment and truly connecting with those around us. We eat and we celebrate. We eat and we mourn. We eat and we live. The kitchen table is the hub of life, the place where good ideas begin and plans are put into place.
That’s what the Foodie Underground column is going to be about this year: bringing our attention back to good food, from good places, with good people. Food isn’t just about nutrition and ingredients: it’s an all encompassing experience that activates our senses and forces us to interact. Be it a new food trend or just another way to make a simple meal at home, this year is for thinking about how food ties us to community, and how we can continue to build that momentum to truly affect positive change.
Host a dinner party. Plan a picnic. Take a friend to a local farm for a goat cheese tasting. Whatever you do, remember that food is a catalyst for conversation and community. Let’s do more of it.
So welcome back dear Foodie Underground reader, it’s a new year, and I am excited to get the conversation and kitchen table connections going.
This is the latest installment of Anna Brones’ weekly column at EcoSalon: Foodie Underground, an exploration of what’s new and different in the underground movement, and how we make the topic of good food more accessible to everyone. More musings on the topic can be found at www.foodieunderground.com.