By Bryan Hulse, Foothills Climate Justice Ministry member
It’s a well-known fact that some of the strongest relationships are formed over food. I’m sure that everyone can think of at least one example, whether its a Thanksgiving meal shared with a large family, weekend pizza with good friends, or that first dinner date where something between you seemed to just click. Food and community go together so frequently that it is almost impossible to separate the two. As we look to build a stronger, more just, and more resilient community in Northern Colorado, one of the strongest tools at our disposal, then, is that of preparing a table and sharing food. Authors Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano say it well when they write:
Giving homemade food to your guests is a metaphor for sharing and openness. Gathering around a table to consume it is a metaphor for community. Eating it in unison is a metaphor for mutual understanding.*
With this in mind, the Climate Justice Ministry here at Foothills started sponsoring a monthly “Seasonal Supper.” The goal of the Suppers is two-fold and the first is to foster community. They are open to all, without obligation or expectation. I like to say that if you like to eat, you’re invited! But we don’t limit our community to those around the table. After the meal we have a speaker present a short presentation about an environmental or food related topic, to help us engage with the issues of the broader local, national, or even global community.
The second goal is to show that eating is a deeply environmental act. The industrial food system and its global spanning supply networks mean that we can have most any food we want on any date of the year. But all this convenience comes with the high costs of pollution, greenhouse gas, and environmental degradation. Thankfully, we a fortunate to live in a place in which options for local, non-industrialized food abound. At each Supper we highlight foods that are locally and seasonally plentiful during that month. In fact, most of the ingredients used to make the seasonal suppers are grown right here, and purchased face to face with the farmer who grew them. For example, a meal featuring tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant might be served in July, but potatoes, carrots and onion are more appropriate for January. Then we gather a handful of volunteers to transform those ingredients into a delicious shared meal that showcases the possibilities of our local, seasonal, and sustainable bounty.
Looking forward into 2020 and beyond, it seems like we could really use more sharing, openness, and mutual understanding. We’re in a time of deep unrest, be it political, social, or environmental. We might feel powerless, or scared, or just plain lonely, and in my opinion, nothing is a better tonic for those feelings than fresh food, served with warmth and love. The table is set and there are seats a plenty. Won’t you come join us?
*Source: Brunch Is Hell: How to Save the World by Throwing a Dinner Party, by Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano (Little, Brown and Company; 2017)