Happy World Food Day! An entire day dedicated to “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition” sounds like cause for celebration to me and that’s exactly what I did!
First, today was my monthly Good Food Box Pick-up day. Since harvest season continues, this was another box quite literally overflowing with produce. It didn’t even fit in the bags I’d brought, and carrying it all home was a workout after my workout. I’d decided to try the largest size – a $20 box – because they come with a bit more variety and I’d been finishing off the medium box pretty quickly. Ever since I was introduced to the Lean Eating habit of eating at least 5 servings of veggies everyday, I’ve been going through produce at an atonishing rate.
Because I got the larger box, and in the spirit of World Food Day, I gave away some of my overflow – half of the carrots, half the potatoes and the cabbage. Even having donated a couple of items, I’m still left with plenty of produce and a great bargain. At the same time, I’ve done something to reduce my food waste, which of course always makes me happy. Not to mention the fact that I made a brightened a friend’s day by giving her free food.
After picking up my Good Food Box, myself and one of my friends headed over to a World Food Day event organized by the Good Food Box Program. We enjoyed a delicious meal of soup and bannock provided by Stone Soup Foodworks and the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health. As I was leaving my house this evening, I felt a twinge of regret that I wouldn’t get to use any of my produce tonight at dinner. That regret was quickly erased by the Spicy Thai Squash Soup that I enjoyed at The HUB. My mouth is watering just thinking about it, and I went back for seconds.
After dinner, we were treated to talks that focused on the topics of food and community. I have to say that these talks were the biggest surprise of the night for me. I once had a seminar class where I was forced to attend and critique a number of talks in the community. That experience made me realize that not all public speaking events are created equal, and sometimes I am hesitant to attend these type of events because I often end up shifting uncomfortably in my chair as someone drones on and on for far too long. However, that was not the case tonight; whatever expectations I’d set were far exceeded. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy the two presentations given, but both of them gave me food for thought.
Louise Garrow spoke first and delivered a talk on “Food as Culture”. Again, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Certainly I agree that food plays an important role of any culture, but Louise talked about her own Native culture growing up and the hard work and respect that their family put into all of their food as hunters, trappers and farmers. For me, one of the powerful statements of the evening was the idea that anyone can drive to a grocery store and pick out food from the Italian section or the Chinese section or all of these different sections. But where is the Aboriginal food?
On the one hand, Louise’s talk was so thought provoking for me because she offered an entirely different viewpoint on the culture of food for me. I simply don’t have an Aboriginal perspective on food. At the same time, her ideas were infinitely relatable.
I once told my classmates that I wanted to witness the slaughtering of a chicken. At first, some of the girls had visible reactions of revulsion and the guys laughed. But I stand by that sentiment, and I explained myself: I have always been an urban dweller. I love the culture and atmosphere of a city. And as much as there are benefits, living in an 11th story apartment downtown, I feel very disconnected from the food on my plate. Buying an apple from the grocery store is not the same experience as picking an apple from an orchard, and paying 58 cents per pound doesn’t really give me an appreciation of how that apple was grown, picked, packaged, and transported. How can I really appreciate apples if I think they come from the grocery store?
Then if I take my grocery store as a representation of my culture, I start to feel a little sad. At my local supermarket, the produce is always wilted and relatively expensive. Grocers will only sell fruit that is aesthetically pleasing, while apples with a dime-sized bruise are left to rot as waste. My entire city is filled with warehouses cum grocery stores lined with aisles upon aisles lined with cheap carbs and diet foods. What does that say about my culture and how can it possibly fill my emotional hunger?
After Louise’s presentation, Delia Barkley gave a talk entitled “Raising Food Aware Kids”. Although I’m not a parent, and I have no plans to ever become one, I’ve found myself reading a lot on the subject of how to raise environmentally and health conscious children. Yoni Freedhoff has been responsible for a lot of my exposure to the issue via his blog – and I thought of him tonight when Delia asked, “Why would you feed your kids hot dogs when you wouldn’t eat one yourself?” I know he would agree that kids don’t need special foods, they need to be part of the family.
But where do I fit into my own family? With parents who are morbidly obese, my sister and I have both commented that we were never taught how to feed ourselves. We were only taught how to overeat. A part of me wonders what we missed out on. If our parents were to teach us the fundamentals of healthy eating, what would they have done? And how can these principles be applied to our society more generally, leading to the cultural shift in food that we so desperately need?
As Louise discussed the issue of raising sensible children, who take responsibility for their health and are environmentally, politically and socially aware, I had a revelation of sorts. One of her key messages that she repeated throughout the evening was the idea that food should be an adventure, not a battleground. As someone who frequently refers to their Lean Eating experience as an adventure, I realized that the program has given me the opportunity to take responsibility for a lot of the things my parents missed out on teaching me the first time around.
I have some funny ideas when it comes to food: certain foods are breakfast foods, whole grain products are synonymous with whole grains, a meal is finished when the plate is clean, meals should be eaten at the same time every day. In fact, I hold a lot of the food ideas that have been instilled in me not only by my parents at home, but more broadly by the culture of pathetic grocery stores. Lean Eating is giving my childhood a do-over by giving me new parameters to work within. In a lot of ways, I am currently my own parent and child when it comes to food, self-educating and exploring. And maybe I don’t ever want to fully grow up, if it means the adventure stops.
Not only has Lean Eating instilled a sense of awareness and exploration in me, but it has also taught me a lot about healthy and sustainable food, which peaked my interest in this event in the first place. I was so impressed with the food, the speakers and the general sense of community that I got from speaking with others at the event. As Stef and I left The HUB tonight, carrying our pumpkins down the city streets, I couldn’t help but feeling more satisfied and optimistic than I have in a long, long time.
As Louise said at the end of her talk, food fills the hunger of our bodies and food as culture fills the hunger of our spirits. Our food as culture starts in the grocery store but it’s the sense of coming together that really fills us and makes us complete.
- Leftovers from dinner last night: chicken, squash & cranberry casserole
First lunch – Cranapple Smoothie (very good!)
- Macintosh apple
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/4 avocado
- 1 scoop of whey
- Bowl of sliced veggies: Cucumber, bell pepper & baby carrots
Second lunch –
- Eggs fried in butter
Dinner @ World Food Day with Ottawa Good Food Box –
- A few chocolate covered coffee beans
- Spicy Thai Squash Soup
- 1/2 piece of Bannock
- Boiled egg that I smuggled in for protein
Workout: Lean Eating Phase 3, Workout 2
Days since last meltdown: 4