By Molly Lawrence, CFJC intern
On Thursday, December 21st six of us gathered in my festively decorated apartment for the 2nd Sacramento Kitchen Table Talk. There was an abundance of delicious food to be shared; rustic homemade bread, salads, savory rice dishes, sautéed greens, cheeses, and hearty grains were all part of the bounty. Appropriately, our discussion explored the theme of abundance, which was inspired by the holiday season, where ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ ads seemed to be overwhelmingly invasive this year. In preparation for the Kitchen Table Talk, I reflected upon what true generosity meant to me, and how I wanted to nourish myself and those close to me this season. How can we positively impact our local community during this time of togetherness? What are some ways that we see abundance or lack of abundance throughout the year in our community?
After sharing a bit about each of ourselves, we continued the conversation by exploring what the holiday season means to each of us. We found the common values of friends and family, experiential rather than materialistic gifts, and sharing each other’s company and good food. Courtney C., vocalized these common sentiments when she shared openly that instead of celebrating the stressful and excessive holiday season, she tries to spend the whole year celebrating with good food and friends, showing her love and kindness in an organic nature. For Glenn too, the holiday season meant sending traditional Christmas cards and staying in touch with old friends.
We transitioned into an exploration of nourishment and abundance, each sharing what it meant to be fully nourished. For Mariko, food that feeds her soul is food that is mindfully created; when love and time are put into the creation, she stated, it makes it so much more nourishing. Courtney C. added that community makes for a powerful experience, and that community meals offer a great opportunity to share nourishing, healthy food. Contributing to the discussion on the power of community, Mary shared a story about a woman that was moved to tears in expressing her gratitude for the powerful health and nutrition resources she was given by a local community organization. The organization offers a free, healthy community breakfast every morning for women, where the women are provided fresh produce. The women Mary spoke with felt valued to be given the fresh food and information, and thus her self worth increased.
Mariko found a common tie in our conversation: feeling cared for. Individuals overeat when food is not nourishing. David Kessler, the author of The End of Overeating, writes about the fleeting reward of empty food on his Facebook page: “Readjusting expectations about food requires gaining new perspective on how much you truly need to feel satisfied.” I would add that “what” you need to feel satisfied is not just a matter of calories, but also the kinds of calories. How do we approach promoting the more sustainable reward of locally grown, lovingly-prepared food?
We began brainstorming some ways that we could increase access to nourishing food in our local community. We played out the idea of having a community potluck at the end of popular neighborhood farmers’ markets. Potlucks are a great way to share an abundance of food prepared with love, build community in a powerful way, as well as increase access to fresh foods. Of course, there would be logistics to figure out, but the potential is great.
We are fortunate to live in an area of such abundant, agricultural resources year round. However, many community members lack access to these local riches. Giving the gift of healthy food is truly a gift that keeps giving all year round. This Kitchen Table Talk re-energized all of us to continue working towards increased food access for all. We concluded the Kitchen Table Talk with words of gratitude for each other and the thoughtful contributions to our shared space. Mary stated that when she moved to California she finally felt like she was part of a community: a community where everyone had something to offer and was valued for their individualism. As the holiday season comes to a close, let us re-kindle that feeling of appreciation for our neighbors and find ways that we can give abundantly throughout the whole year.