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Redefining Food: Food as Community

I’ve been reading Atina Diffley’s book Turn Here Sweet Corn lately (a review of that coming soon!) and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.  I won’t give too much away, but essentially the book tells the story of Atina Diffley’s connection with organic farming.

What has really struck me about this book is it’s underlying theme of community.  Organic farming works because it adds a human element to the story of food.  Diffley tells several stories of working the vegetable stand by their farm, selling produce to local customers.

I think the case for organic in general is really in that it creates a community of something like a farmer’s market. When we go to the grocery store, people are rude, I’m frozen by the sub-zero temperatures, and I just want to get out of there quickly.  At the farmer’s market (when we make it on Saturdays!), I want to linger.  I want to stop by each stall and see what they have.  I want to learn about the food that I don’t recognize.  That environment makes me want to become a regular at one stall or another.

We met the woman doing the dessert for our wedding at the farmer’s market.  I took one bite of her food and knew I wanted to eat it again at our wedding.  The fact that she was so friendly added to the draw.  Since eating that first bite, we’ve met with her and gone back several times to the farmer’s market.  She calls out to us and says hello.  She emails with ideas for the wedding or with cool events she thinks we’d like.  She’s amazing.  And we wouldn’t have found her in a grocery store.

My awesome friend Lyz writes about food.  I guess you would call her a food blogger, but I think she’s more than that.  She writes about a connection with food that goes beyond giving recipes and cooking tips.  She connects her posts with something else happening in her life: a pastry made on a rainy afternoon, or the latest vacation she took, or the sunny afternoon with friends.  Her blog weaves food into her real life.  Isn’t that how we all should talk about our food? Like it was a way of telling our stories?

We’ve had friends over for dinner lately, and when we sit around our tiny table, I’m reminded of how different that feeling is than when it’s just us eating together or when it’s us rushing through a meal.  When people talk about the Slow Food Movement, that’s what I think of. Slowly eating dinner and enjoying each other’s company. Not in a rush to go anywhere or do anything but eat together.  My family’s Thanksgiving dinners are this way – we stay at the table for hours eating, and when the food is gone we stay playing games until we’re too tired to stand.  It’s slow and it’s beautiful.



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