Well folks, apparently September was food literacy month.
I went to the Downtown Seattle Public Library for a Food Literacy/Food Justice Panel, got to hear from some folks representing organizations in Seattle doing really good things for our community. Here are a few thoughts.
1.What is food literacy?
Noun: Understanding the impact of your food choices on your health, the environment, and our economy.
–The Food Literacy Center in Sacramento (connected to Jamie Oliver somehow)
Do you feel food literate? Do you understand the impact of your food choices on your health, the environment, and our economy? Want to be more well-read in this genre of book learnin’?
If so, here’s a toolkit, you can use it as a teacher, as a parent, or in general: Food Literacy Month Toolkit.
2. Start ’em young!
There’s an interesting publisher around town called Readers to Eaters. If you have trouble eating vegetables, or know small humans who do, some of the books from here, such as Sylvia’s Spinach may help change your perspective. My fellow pun-lovers may be fans of the title, A Moose Boosh. Philip Lee did some sweet introductions of the keynote speaker, which leads me to..
3. 2016 Food & Wine Best New Chef Edouardo Jordan challenged us to consider:
What are you doing for food justice?
With a traditional European-oriented culinary background and a prestigious resume with such restaurants as The French Laundry, and local favorite Sitka & Spruce, Chef Jordan’s Salare Restaurant in Ravenna celebrates an array of cooking traditions, and I look forward to seeing more of that. He mentioned he is working on a second restaurant, possibly called June Baby featuring soul food.
4. The ultimate conclusion reached: food reaches everyone. Here’s a sampling of the panelists’ comments.
- The moderator, Philip Lee of Readers to Eaters described how for folks who immigrate, the first thing they lose is language, second is clothes, third is religion, and the last is food. Food is the remainer that ties people to their heritage the longest.
- FareStart’s Michael Friedman described the transformation of their students, many of whom have experienced homelessness, going from receiving food at shelters to having the opportunity to give back and serve at shelters. At FareStart, food is a tool to give students the professional skills to help themselves.
- Chef Tarik Abdullah of Hillman City Collaboratory, and many a popular pop up restaurant honoring North African and Mediterranean traditions, described kids at his cooking classes learning about food from beginning to end, about their own family’s food traditions, finding healthy and culturally relevant options to cook and to refine. Tarik is most recently in the news for The Seattle Times article on great cooking classes.
- Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program Director, Brett Ramsey spoke of empowering students to reclaim the right to manage food and land. The program envisions a diverse and inclusive conservation community. In the vein of conservation, he posed the question, “what if food were a relative?”
- Mei Yook Woo of Danny Woo Garden and the Foodways Project spoke on her personal journey of a complicated relationship with food wrapped up with identity as a person of color. She expressed a love for food work because it creates story, stressing that if you have the power to create alternative stories through food, do it!
- WA State Farmers Market Association, Brian Estes, board member, described how WSFMA facilitates more fresh produce in the hands of lower income through supplemental nutrition assistance at farmers markets.
5. You may start seeing more posts beyond recipe trials here, given the call to action and to share alternative stories through food. Many of these things rang true to me, and frankly, I may have avoided sharing more personal details from my own perspective for risk of getting hurt. However, I’ve been inspired by the perspectives and great work represented by the groups on this panel to try sharing a little more, so we can all learn from each other. Besides, Penelope Trunk says sharing real things is what makes a good blog.