For some, food is plentiful, for others shockingly scarce. For some food is fuel, for others gluttony, for most, it is a way to share – share the food, the growing or sourcing, the preparation, the conversations around it. Eating in, eating out, in our cars (the worst) and in groups (the best), the money and time spent around food is enormous. The energy spent on growing and processing; transporting and marketing; choosing and cooking is immense, and yet in all of this we have lost, certainly in North America, the soul of food.
When I was a child, I lived in the Queen Charlotte Islands (now Haida Gwaii) and my dad was a commercial fisherman. What I have recently realized is that my entire life has been about eating what we could fish, forage, hunt, bake or grow as this is how it all began. When we moved to larger centres, we always had gardens, and we often had game, farm raised chickens and the like. We rarely ate food from cans, unless we had canned it ourselves. When I moved out on my own, the majority of my shopping was and is still down around the outside of the grocery store and at local bakeries, fishmongers and markets, and it has always made sense to me. When I had children I planted berries and a small garden – enough for them to know that food comes from the ground and not a bag, box or can. It is not to say we never eat fast food, or dried pasta, or things that are “easy”, but it is certainly the norm for them to grab a fruit over a processed snack item.
While I appreciate the sentiment of the 100 mile diet, which was done locally in Mission, I would miss all the world offers. If we didn’t have a global food market, we would miss out on so much from flavours and spices to styles of preparation and sauces, and from ingredients. Rice and olive oil, saffron and shrimp, coconuts and mangoes, carrots and quinoa – all began in one region of the world and now are ubiquitous in many, and that is part of the magic of food. When we plan menus for meetings and events, I believe seeking a balance of local and global, regional and seasonal, delicious and inspiring, it is all important.
There is nothing better to me than this “foodie” movement – I say bring it on and open up the palates and let's get exploring!