By Anita Wong, CFJC Intern
In celebration of Earth Day, I hosted a Kitchen Table Talk (KTT) at my residence this past weekend. My guests were friends, family, neighbors, schoolmates, and co-workers of mine. They were all excited to have been included in a dinner that involved discussion around the one thing we all need for survival – food. Mostly everyone brought a dish to share, making the KTT a potluck-style dinner.
The discussion started off with introductions and sharing what dishes were brought to the dining table. The topics that were common were on food access and availability. The guests discussed where they purchased the ingredients used in their dish. The answers varied from farmer’s markets, Costco, to nearby independent grocery stores. Most guests had to travel outside of their neighborhood by car to get fresh fruits and vegetables. What was interesting was my neighbor, Patricia, was able to prepare her collard greens dish using collards from her own backyard. The discussion transitioned into accessing foods through edible yards. Most of my guests already established an area in their homes to grow edibles like herbs, berries, and celery. We noted that we were thankful for local supermarkets and the increasing numbers of farmer’s markets as well as community gardens in nearby neighborhoods.
Much of the time focused on nutrition and how the foods we eat have evolved from childhood to present day. It was surprising to learn that a majority of us grew up eating unhealthier than healthy foods when we were younger. I shared a story of how Spam was common in my diet when I was younger. When I used to live with my father, he was the cook and included Spam in almost every dish at dinner. I was told by my cousins and sisters, who were present at the dinner that it was because Spam was used as a cheap meat mixture that was easily accessible during the times of war in China. My cousin Karen also shared a story of her mother who would prepare broccoli for them to eat by cutting off the florets, thinking they were not edible.
After everyone filled their bellies with the bounty of food, we opened the discussion to share recipes. The evening ended with a seed planting activity where I provided seeds and cups of dirt for my guests to take home. I did this as a small effort for us as individuals to change the food system by providing access to fresh food in our own homes. Organizing this KTT was a way of building community because of the open space this dinner provided. This was a fun experience for everyone who attended and I hope to host another KTT that will go into further depth about possible solutions to improving food access and nutrition since we all came to the realization of food being more a privilege than a basic human right.