I’m excited indeed to have a piece in the current issue of Comestible Journal, a really creatively curated and political US-based food journal / zine. Here for example is the table of contents in this current issue, Winter, No. 4, that I’m a part of. You can order a copy , as well as art work and past publications, here; I thoroughly recommend “Protest Fuel” in particular; its a brilliant food-people’s response to the political moment of this new presidency.
Does the Food Movement’s Elitism Hinder Our Progress? Some Reflections of “Fast, Cheap and Easy”
A few years ago I was in a convenience shop with my young children, who kept pestering me for the various processed crap purposefully positioned, as we all know, in every aisle. I was growing impatient and cranky. The words shot sternly out of my mouth: “That’s junk food. We are not junky people.”
Never would I have considered myself the kind of a person to label others as “junky” and ascribe morality to eating choices. But I’d actually used the word; did I believe it? Did I also believe I was raising my children to be better than those other “junky” kids? I felt sure that my whole grains and limited sugar diet were making them healthier, but was I also inculcating in them elitism and us-vs-them notions about choices people make? The words appalled me so much that they became a stepping-stone of introspection, leading me to question my values surrounding food.
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Last weekend I was incredibly moved to be in the presence of seeds descended from those which Vavilov and his colleagues saved under wartime duress (i.e. a Stalinist prison, and starvation). These were exhibited as part of the Artes Mundi exhibition at National Museum Cardiff in which the Futurefarmers collective of artists installed visuals to their “Seed Journey” exploration of the history and future of seeds as part of our common heritage. Amy Franceschini explains some of the project in this video below:
A few days later I found myself working at an event where Anne Parry of Felin Galon Watermill was speaking on behalf of her visionary efforts to network farmers, millers, brewers and bakers around “Welsh Grain.” We talked a bit about the Cardiff exhibition, and she shared that some Welsh grown wheat had gone off on the sea-faring adventures of FutureFarmers.
So exciting! I went home and wrote to Anne, asking if she could write a paragraph for this blog, sharing the story. And she responded:
“As part of their Seed Journey the Flatbread Society were meeting with Andy Forbes of the Brockwell Bake in London. The Welsh Grain Forum has been collaborating with Andy, who is wonderfully knowledgeable and committed, to reintroduce the wheat Hen Gymro back to Wales….so since The Seed Journey group were travelling to Cardiff it seemed appropriate that we celebrate this by them symbolically bringing us a sheaf of Hen Gymro from Andy when they came up to Cardiff. (Pics from the Brockwell Bake gallery here). About half a dozen WGF members were able to be there and it turned out to be a simple, inspiring and encouraging event where we received the wheat, gave them samples of Hen Gymro grown once more in Wales, and other Welsh grown heritage cereals, to take on their journey and then shared bread and cakes baked with our locally grown and milled flour. There’s something about the it by Artes Mundi here , and stuff on our Welsh Grain Workshop page and on Rupert Dunn’s Torth y Tir page.”
Really wanted to share this wonderful story which gives Hen Gymro an epic adventure, its itself part of the whole global Story of seeds, grain, people, history.
And now, a moment with Johnny Cash, and an affecting photomontage:
I’m completely committed to insisting that breastfeeding is a food issue, one of food politics and all the ways power comes into play, of food security, and of food sovereignty, in OUR right to decide how we eat and feed. This poem is by Holly McNish is so strong and Mama-Tigerly righteous, I want to take part in it’s going ever more viral.
Also of interest: Anthrolactology is a blog maintained by a Medical Anthropologist with a keen interest in breastfeeding issues for refugees. Lots of links, resources and education on her site.
Has everyone read this fascinating New Yorker magazine long-read on breastfeeding and the micro-biome?
And in doing some searches for this post, I just found EMBA, the European Milk Bank Association, “where you will find information from many of the 200+ milk banks operating in more than 20 countries throughout Europe as well as news from milk banks and about the use of donor human milk around the world.” Viva sharing!
A few past KitchenCounterCulture posts:
A GIF that shows the male gaze…
Gorgeous Images of the Sanctity of Mary Feeding Jesus
Breastmilk Banking. My first baby benefitted greatly from another woman’s breastmilk while I was getting my flow going, so I’m all for this!
When my friend Paige Brown, a Climate and Clean Energy Activist by day, fermenting enthusiast by night, was posting these pictures on Instagram, I asked her could I post them on this blog. I love noticing the way sharing food helps form community, in this instance the community of inspiring activists fighting against Trump’s Muslim Ban at airports across the USA. We are going to need a lot of this, to keep our bodies and spirits in good health, and it’s so fun to see what all this abundance looks like in the sterility of an airport.
“The Resistance will be well fed! The calls went out for an emergency protest at San Francisco Airport on Sunday January 30, as 50 people were being detained there because of DT’s Muslim Ban. The call to protest included the request, “Bring provisions.” My friend and I grabbed granola bars and bananas and headed over.
The SFO protest was determined, lively, large, and diverse. It also had more food than I’ve ever seen at any protest. It was a beautiful abundance of fruit, carrots, cheese, snacks, and water. People took over kiosks, making them into protest refreshment stations.
Pizzas arrived just as the crowd was cheering the announcement that the last detainee had been released. It wasn’t about the pizza obviously, but it was about people vigorously and enthusiastically giving and sharing food. People really wanted to feed each other and take care of each other. Open doors, open arms, and sharing food with strangers as an antidote to closing doors and hearts.”
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Wanted to share this short film about young crofters in Scotland figuring out ways to gain access to land, to practice small scale agriculture and local food production. Passionate, inspiring people.
When I started the project of this blog, I wanted to document what I was cooking and thinking, and often how the two related to each other. I was turned off and depressed by “lifestyle” blogs and food-porn posturing. I wanted to create a wide exploration of what it could mean to politicise a meal, to historicise and contextualise it, showing its antecedents and effects
I’m not sure how far I’ve come or where I’m going, but the vision remains strong that food on its own is not inherently interesting a subject to me, pleasurable as it may be to eat something delicious or gaze at beautiful food styling wishing oneself into the scene.
The video below interests me. I happened upon it because Sean Hawkey is a friend and had pointed something else out on the site. Sean is a photographer and filmmaker, often working for Development groups. I love how in the case of “The Breakfast Recipe,” he’s put the actual breakfast in a chain of events and a particular social milieu. It might feel feel easier to express this scenario in places where people grow their own food. But it seems really compelling to imagine the full weight of these stories for those of us buying our food in a globalised world. There will be stories inside of stories, with infinite digressions. All of which makes what we eat more compelling.
Something uplifting, amazing, inspiring to watch.