Holidays and Food Stories

The holidays are coming to an end.  Kwanzaa has just begun, and New Years is upon us. What do these holidays have in common?  They all are celebrated with food and drink.  Every celebration is different, this difference is our food story.  Food stories are my favorite part of hearing people’s holidays and celebrations.  Everyone has a food story!  Food stories during the holidays are tradition. Alterations are made to accommodate who is coming, allergies, likes, dislikes and time available to prepare.  The rest of the year they are what make up who we are, how we prepare meals daily for our family.

My food story is similar to others, it goes back to my grandma.  She baked everything!  She was also a lunch lady, during a time when all meals were homemade, bread included.  Eventually, she lived on a farm again, and baked for the over the road truck drivers all types of bread, made with fresh ground whole wheat bread.  Every single Sunday we had Sunday dinner, which was cooked while we were at church.  My greatest memory is sitting down to a table with my grandparents to share a meal with them.  I heard discussions of farming, community and family, obviously I didn’t have opinions on these topics, but I learned about sharing, opinions, and opposition.   Sitting at a table with adults sharing a meal, I learned to eat until I was satisfied,  everyone wasn’t happy with the discussion topic, what foods go on a plate to complete the meal and that there was dessert at the end.   I tried to incorporate this into raising my boys, of course there were times that they weren’t at my table, but it was important to me to share life with them at the table.

When we prepare a meal for our family, we bring forth our past, what was taught to us as children from our parents.  This is true for all socio-economic groups.  If someone comes from a family where meals are prepared by a cook, they don’t have the skill to prepare a meal, unless they take an opportunity to learn.  Opposite this issue,  a family without access to fresh fruits and vegetable and healthy they learn only what they have access to.  People with access to food and cooking in the home are more likely to carry on with cooking for their own family.  It is similar to children growing up in a farming community, will have more knowledge about farming.  By coming in contact with someone who has their own food story it can morph another person’s food story, they can change their story at any time, quickly or slowly.   This is dependent on the time spent with the person, the respect for the person sharing.   We all play a role in each other’s food story, just as in life, people come into our lives to make an impact it is the same in our food story.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well.”  Virginia Woolf

 

To Some I am a pushy lunch lady who “Nutrition” them, to others I am a resourceful and passionate.

I am a lunch lady on a path of finding a way to educate Food Literacy.  The opportunity of being a Lunch Lady is giving me the availability of children who may or may not have access to nutritious choices at breakfast and lunch.  These children may not have dinner available at night when they are with their family.  They have an over abundance of food available to them too.  I don’t know.  But, any conversation I get to have with a child about choosing food that tastes good, is good for them, or even has a connection to someone they love is why I am there.

I grew up during the 70’s and 80’s in  a home that was at times food insecure.  We didn’t know it, but, it was.  Our parents did a great job in hiding it.  And as a single mother with teenage boys having to sometimes hide our own food insecurity along with going to college to learn Nutrition at St. Catherine University in St. Paul has given birth to a passion to help others understand their own food insecurity.  I have observed, reflected, conversed, and shared what I have learned about food.  The most important thing I have learned… A parents love at the core is providing shelter, safety and a meal made or provided in love.  When a parent is unable to do that they feel shame, fear, and inadequacy in parenting.

My goal is shed a light on what Food Literacy is, what Food insecurity is, and what we can do to improve our understanding of these topics.  Food Literacy is really just understanding:

Where food is grown, Who grows our food, How our food gets to the consumer, How the consumer can use the food available.  Essentially Farm, Transportation, Processing, Availability, and How we get it to the table finally.  It is a multi-level process that I don’t even understand completely, but if we can understand parts of the system then we start to make the best decisions for ourselves, our families, and our environment.

Food Insecurity is really just as it is said, insecure food.  Food Insecurity isn’t just those who are impoverished.  It is in all social classes, can happen in every household.  If a family doesn’t know how to use a food available in their region, and have limited or no access to food they do understand, or there is no transportation to the nearest grocery store, or just basic lack of income to provide access to food.  These can all be a situation of food insecurity.

I look forward to sharing my experiences with Food Literacy and Food Security. I hope you will share with me your experiences and we can find a way to educate and share with others.