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.
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!
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.
New Year’s Resolution to experience and express gratitude– I’m grateful to people who work really hard on the issues I deeply care about. Miles King is one of them. Here’s what he says about Brexit opportunities.
I’m delighted to be able to tell you about this new report which is published today. It’s the first People Need Nature policy report – A Pebble in the Pond: Opportunities for farming, food and nature after Brexit. You can download it here.
Here’s the summary:
As England prepares to leave the EU we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the way we support England’s land managers. This report shows how leaving the EU will enable us to channel money from the public purse to land managers in such a way that they can both produce food, help nature and provide all the other benefits society needs.
The last forty years of farm subsidies from Europe via the Common Agricultural Policy has contributed to a dramatic decline in nature on farmland – land that covers three quarters of England. The vote to leave the EU means we…
Supply Drives for the Red Warrior and Sacred Stone Camps in US Cities on Monday 19 September… am sure you can search for updates and addresses after this date– if you have good info, please leave it in the comments…
If you are interested in the culture, politics, ecology and economy of food in Palestine, may I recommend FoodJusticePalestine, a quite remarkable website curating diverse articles and voices from around the web on many aspects of eating and growing there.
Had I been following this site earlier, I might have been aware, for example, of the neoliberal trade context that makes Nutella a normal part of life in occupied territories, despite an initial dismay, elucidated for me by Aisha Mansour in this article. I’ve also come to question my own assumed unequivocal support of fairtrade products from Palestine, a movement that is well intentioned (and so much about solidarity) but needs to be examined in terms of issues of food sovereignty at the broadest levels.
“International fair-trade companies have also decreased Palestinian self-sufficiency. These companies offer local farmers a slightly higher price for their products than the price in the local market, but the real price of this practice is that high-quality local (baladi) produce is removed from the local market and sold to the global market at much higher prices. This has increased inequalities in Palestinian society, creating a minority of wealthy businesspeople, and leaving an entire population with low quality, imported food.”
There’s much more on this Tumblr site – articles about foodways, Permaculture, trade deals, land rights and more. In fact it brings together so many aspects of how and why food is interesting to me. So I wanted to share it on my blog. Have a look and fall into a rabbit hole of fascination… You don’t need to join Tumblr to view, but joining means you can follow people and ‘scapbook’ your own posts.
We’ll find out the results on 11th May. I’m more committed to writing about a wider social-cultural-political vision of food than what we think of as standard food blogging, though of course I am honoured to be recognised by the Soil Association because I admire so much of the work it does.
Organic as “lifestyle” might seem a choice of privilege or taste, but if you take a look at the range of issues encompassed in Soil Association campaigns, it’s clear that the dominance of chemical agriculture has critical, wide-ranging implications.
I’m working on my piece about our experience volunteering in the warehouse and the camp in Calais a few weeks ago. In the meantime, the Calais Kitchens women in this video were the ones who inspired us to come, and whom we met when there. I deeply respect and trust them. They are asking for donations of (tinned) chickpeas, tomatoes and fish, as well as cooking oil and ONIONS! Please no pasta.
This came up automatically on Youtube. It’s beautiful and absolutely heartbreaking.
Enjoy the Guardian podcast above with Jane Perrone, Anni Kelsey and Martin Crawford Thanks to Anni for her wonderful blog where I first saw this. Inspiring and eas(ier) gardening, climate friendly and cheaper, plus interesting, tasty things to eat.