The FoodFit program provides a supportive environment for grads of the FoodFit program to stay connected though bi-monthly cooking groups. This past week, we had an AMAZING turn out for the 2019 holiday Alumni meet-up - 15 people attended some from the very early Foodfit grads. Big numbers don’t suit everyone as it can be an overwhelming but we were fortunate to have the big pre-teen room to accommodate. We shared stories of family holidays and feasting. We made 3 take home giftable items and have two in our back-pocket as fun holiday activities to try at home. We got to make and enjoy one of the giftable items in a gorgeous pot of split yellow pea, red & green lentil, barley and brown rice soup sautéed up with a mirepoix veg mix and added diced peppers served with whole grain buns, rice crackers and fruit. We made oat flour! You heard right- we made oat flour for a nut-butter-free bliss ball with coconut chocolate chips and maple syrup. Then we did a cocoa intense nut butter bliss ball with peanut butter maple syrup and dates. After doubling the recipes we had enough for even ‘the nibblers’ to have enough to actually give some away as the intended gifts of the holiday session. Big thank you to the Community Food Centers Canada for their funding of this program
Written by Rebecca Suen
On the afternoon of October 19th, I attended the event “Sharing Food, Sharing Culture” as a part of Sustenance Festival. Held in the Canucks Family Education Centre, this event was organized by Grandview Woodland Food Connection and Flavours of Hope, a non-profit organization that aims to empower and socially/culturally integrate immigrant women through cooking and sharing food.
The aim of the event was to promote intersectionality with food, namely between social justice, gender, race, and identity. By looking at food with a decolonization approach, participants would slowly be able to take back the food system by growing and cooking food together. Community food events like this acknowledge and value multiple interpretations of food from a diverse range of cultures.
Three women were invited to cook food at the event. The first guest was Joraciel from the Philippines. Food is important to her because she has gained many friends through food and is currently participating in Vancouver Community College’s cooking program.
The second guest was Maria from Venezuela. Food has always been a path of healing for her. She came to Canada with low spirits due to issues in her country, but talking about food from her country and sharing her passion for cooking has helped her reconnect to love for her birth country again.
Finally, the third guest speaker was Samara from Saudi Arabia. Samara absolutely loved seeing people’s smiles as she cooked and found their smiles encouraged her to continue cooking!
At the beginning of the event, one of the speakers identified two important themes that will be present throughout the event: identity and belonging. Keeping this in mind throughout the event I tried to observe examples of these themes. I was pleasantly surprised to find that a group of strangers, who came from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences would learn and bond over their love for food!
Photo by Rebecca Suen
At first. people awkwardly shuffled into their assigned cooking areas. However, after the guests began to cook, people started asking questions and sharing their own knowledge about the dish. People would build upon each other’s knowledge and comment on how their cultures also had similar dishes and share how things may be done differently.
In particular, I remember when Maria asked where we thought green plantain would be eaten. Her answer was the beach! The group was surprised and people started discussing other foods their cultures would bring to the beach and compare the similarities and differences. For example, one lady shared that she would bring baked potatoes, while another would bring potato chips.
Photo by Rebecca Suen
It was amazing to see through sharing cultures and ideas over food how much people learned about food. The event atmosphere was very light, friendly and open. I observed a lot of smiles! In this sense, people identified themselves from a particular culture, but rather than saying one culture’s way of doing things was the right way, people could understand different approaches to the same recipe through sharing stories!
This relates to epistemic knowledge, a branch of food justice that relates to whose knowledge counts when it comes to food knowledge. Through the event, I could see how everyone’s knowledge was welcome and counted, regardless of which culture they came from.
One thing I personally took away from the event was reconnecting with an old friend that I had not seen in about a year. I did not know that she would be attending the event, so it was a wonderful surprise to see her again! We caught up over our love for food and she told me about the food program she was a part of. We were both surprised to be reunited at this
This reconnection made me realize that food truly is a wonderful thing, as it is not only able to bring strangers of different ethnic backgrounds together, but can also reunite old friends as well. I realized that this might have been a similar feeling the immigrant women chefs must have felt, coming to a new country and having to adapt to different living conditions, without having a lot of friends/family around them. Being able to attend these dinners to see familiar faces and meet new people is a treasure that comes with sharing food and sharing culture.
Wild Minds builds on 11 years of food growing education with students in the Britannia School gardens and surrounding community garden spaces by providing valuable hands-on skill building and understanding of food growing, ecology, environmental sustainability, and community leadership in their school and community gardens.
Wild Minds emerged is a collaboration between the Grandview Woodland Food Connection and the Environmental Youth Alliance in order to expand Britannia Student’s connections to the much larger Strathcona and Cottonwood community gardens where EYA works.
This year, 12 youth joined the program, many of them from Streetfront Alternative and who face systemic barriers in life. The youth received minimum wage honorariums for attendance. For many youth, Wild Minds provided their first paid work experience.
The opportunities to learn in the gardens were varied and unique, keeping the youth fully engaged and interested. The 4.5 acre gardens which include orchards, bee hives, community gardens, pond areas, animal habitat, food forests, herb gardens, and existing wild areas provided the youth a new perspective of food growing and nature in the city.
Over the 10 sessions that the youth participated, they learned about bees and pollinators, native plants and soils, birds, seed-saving, composting and mulching, permaculture practice, animal habitat, food growing and garden maintenance, herbs and medicinals, and fruit growing, to name a few.