The power of food

The power of food

I watched a program this week that reminded me of the power of food.  The program is a travel show that documents the trip of a British chef, Jamie Oliver, who explores the US by seeking out the food and tastes of the local areas he visits.  This particular episode took him to the Navajo reservation in Arizona.  The community has been struggling to find a way to combat a high rate of obesity and diabetes, especially amongst the younger members of their community.  One way that they have been trying to combat these trends is to try and encourage the younger generation to once again become familiar with the traditional recipes.  This program only gave a quick glimpse into this world, but it showed that as the community came together over the planting of crops and the preparation of the traditional foods the community was becoming aware of ways to be healthier and was keeping alive cultural traditions that were generations old.

This program got me to begin thinking of all the other examples I’ve come across where community bonds where made stronger through the sharing of food:

•    Growing up as a second generation Swede, my family has worked to keep the family traditions alive through food.  My favorite meal of the year is Christmas Eve when we have a traditional Swedish Smorgasbord.  In preparation for the meal my family comes together to make all of the traditional foods and share the memories of the past.

•    Growing up we always had a special Sunday dinner in the dining room that always included my family as well as our friends.  At my wedding, this past spring, one of my friends from high school showed his children the table where he spent many a Sunday dinner as one of the family and how that had made such an impact on his life.  

•    When living in Senegal, I was always amazed at how any time a guest came to the village they were invited to share in the family meal.  Many times this meant that everyone in the family had to eat less, which could be tough as there were times of very little food, but it was essential to making the guest feel at home.

•    Some of my best memories from the trip this summer with Lamboi, FRB’s guest from Sierra Leone, were from all of the many meals we shared with people from all around the US and different parts of the world.  At each of these dinners we shared good times, laughed often, and made many friends.

I will always be amazed at the power of food.  Through the sharing of it we are able to break down barriers, help others out, or make lifelong friendships.  After reading this I encourage you to take some time and reflect on some of the many good experiences you’ve had around food.

By Eric Mattson, Assoc. Dir. of Development and New Ventures

02/13/2012 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment