Episode 032: Food, the Ultimate Connector with Marie-Pierre BilodeauApr 14, 2020
Hello again everyone, we’re glad to see you here again for another episode of the Seeds of Tao Podcast, we’re on Episode 032 and today we have a very special guest, Marie-Pierre Bilodeau. A big theme that came up in MP's interview is that food is this amazing, universal connecting agent. Everyone is involved with food in some capacity, whether they are a connoisseur, chef, cook of the family, or mere eater of food. Food connects us to our earth, to our families, to our communities, and to our world. Here in this blog post we’re going to dive into those connections, but first some amazing resources from Marie-Pierre...
initiative and people can find seed libraries and individuals in their
communities in Canada and the US.
This is a copy of the wonderful essay by Wendell Berry farmer, activist, writer who also inspired Michael Pollen's work and countless others. He is a groundbreaking individual and the quote MP referenced was "Eating is an agricultural act" which on the internet has turned into the more relatable "If you eat, you are involved in agriculture"
You can connect with the REFARMERS www.refarmers.org, instagram.com/refarmers, Facebook.com/eastafricapermacultureproject and if anybody would like to connect with Marie-Pierre directly, they can use [email protected] or any of the social media sites.
Food Connecting Us to the Earth
The other day I put on some spring-themed music as we were preparing to celebrate Easter, and this one song came on connecting everything we eat or interact, to the ground. I wish in my heart of hearts that I could find that song because it was amazing. It talked about how the meat we eat comes from plants, which come from the ground, and so on with other examples. It really got me thinking about our connection to the earth, and how in the normal day to day we often find ourselves seemingly disconnected from the earth. And yet food brings us back.
Lately our family has been exploring the art of foraging. We have just started going out and identifying one or two plants at a time, and then if something is edible we bring it home and try to cook with it. We started with dandelions because they are prolific and easy to identify. So one Saturday our family went out to the local canyon trail and dug up young spring dandelions in hopes of eating the greens in salad, and roasting the tubers to make dandelion tea, which we successfully did. Now, when we go out for our family walks, the kids always point out the dandelions and constantly trying to bring them home with us. By engaging in this earth-connecting activity of food gathering, our entire family feels way more connected with the earth and environment around us in a very special way.
Food Connecting the Family
Our kids love to help cook. They love to help cook so much that they will fight over opportunities to help me in the kitchen. To address this point of contention, we created a rotating meal prep schedule so that everyone gets a turn to help. Given, we have four young kids, between the ages of 8 and 2 at the time of this blog post, so it’s not like they are ready for me to give them a recipe and turn them loose in the kitchen. However they are learning knife skills, how to pick good and bad produce, how to make their own bread, and other introductory skills. By allowing them to assist me in the kitchen, I’m giving them an opportunity to build a greater connection with the food they are eating, and connect with their mother. It’s a win-win.
And then there is dinnertime… Our family is adamant about sitting down together at the end of the day to give thanks for our blessings, and come together over a home-cooked meal. During dinnertime we try to create an environment where our kids can talk with us parents, and we can carry on good conversations. However, if we don’t direct the conversation the children will start spiraling out of control within three minutes and pretty soon there are kids out of their chairs and chaos reigns. In response to this need to keep them focused and attentive, we do one of two things. One option is for us to read some of the books we are reading as a family, the other is to play the question game. We developed the question game a while back and it is still a favorite of ours. One family member at a time takes a turn asking an open-ended question, such as, “What is your favorite ocean animal?” The rest of the family goes around the table taking turns to answer, then the next family member in order asks a new question and the pattern continues. Quality time over the dinner table is an amazing opportunity to reconnect with the family, over food, before ending the day.
Food Connecting the Community
One of the best tools to connect a community, in my opinion, is through a potluck. Seriously. There are two big examples that stick out to me about this.
First off, Josh and I have moved around a lot during our marriage, and have been involved in a number of communities. Where we live now is truly a “typical suburban neighborhood.” We moved into this area during the winter, and never really got to know anyone outside of our church ward. But when summer came, there was a notice on our door about the monthly neighborhood Block Party that would be held every month that the weather was nice. So we went to the first Block Party that was held, which was a potluck, and we were amazed at how many people in the neighborhood we met. It was fantastic. We all sat down with our patchwork quilt of a plate and genuinely connected with one another. Through the potluck events our neighborhood has held, we have felt closer to this community than in any other neighborhood previously.
Another example is our local permaculture group. The local group here meets weekly for a potluck and some kind of educational presentation. These potlucks are some of my favorites because they are based around a bunch of food permies have put together. You see lots of homemade fermented things, from sourdough to sauerkraut, as well as experimental dishes like the acorn flour tortilla chips I tried a few months ago. By creating this environment to make an offering of food and partake of others’ offerings, there’s a really unique give and receive environment that is very close and connected. Potlucks are some of our favorite things to go to for this reason.
Food Connecting the World
I never watch the news. Ever. However with the latest COVID-19 pandemic, I have some news apps downloaded that feed me headlines throughout the day so I can keep minimal tabs on what is happening. This morning CNN alerted me that a major pork processing plant is going to be shut down because so many workers are out sick, and that the commercial meat industry is on the verge of collapse. Ever since this pandemic has been rolling out, I’ve seen permies all over the place posting about the transition we are going through towards a more regenerative food system. I really believe that the national food system, if not the global food system, is something that people can get behind improving. We’re all involved in it. If we could only get the message out of real, regenerative strategies, we could stop the environmental damage we’re causing, and unite for a better choice to feed our posterity with. This may not be the biggest connection right now, but I hope to see it as a bigger connected force in the future as old systems collapse, allowing better ideas to race to the forefront.
All in all, we hope that you’re a little more aware of the amazing connector that food is for us, and the power it has. Use it to connect yourself to what you stand in need of, and help connect more with those around you.
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