In our house, family dinners are an important tradition. We hold hands, say a prayer, and share highlights from the day or gratitude about something in our lives. Sitting down together forces us to slow the hectic pace, to appreciate, exchange, and connect as we break bread together. This time of year it’s fun to notice how often our meals come from local ingredients: our own tomatoes, basil, and garlic, our neighbors’ eggs, Walnut Hill Farm carrots, Spring Brook Farm milk and meat, Pleasant Valley Acres broccoli, Sweetser’s apples, and for a bit longer, Toots ice cream. We are blessed by such bounty so close by.
On October 29th, the church will host our annual Halloween harvest potluck with some new features. PF will once again offer a spooky haunted house for the young and young at heart. The Green Team will screen a short film about food called “Nourish,” and we will also issue the $5 Slow Food challenge.
Locavore potlucks feature dishes containing local ingredients. For our harvest potluck, we ask you to consider taking an additional step toward building community. On September 17, Slow Food, a non-profit organization dedicated to healthy fast food alternatives, issued the $5 challenge to show that “good, clean, sustainable food doesn’t have to cost a lot.” Here in Portland, a group of people pooled their $5 contributions, went shopping at the farmers’ market, and prepared a delicious, healthy, creative meal costing less than $5 per person, or the cost of a typical fast food option.
As you start to think about possible contributions to the potluck, consider getting together with a group, friend, or family member to plan a dish or two, shop for ingredients at the farmers’ market or your gardens, and prepare the food together. Keep an eye out for links to recipe ideas in the October newsletter.
On the Slow Food Website, one woman shares her motivation for embracing the Slow Food Challenge:
“I believe in family, friends, and community coming together around the table, coming together around food. I think that’s the original happy meal, the original value meal, and I think we should take it back with the $5 challenge.”
Before and after supper, we will screen the documentary, “Nourish,” a 30-minute film that explores the connection between food, health, environment, and community.
“The thing that makes a farmers’ market such a special place is that you’re actually creating community around food,” chef and author Bryant Terry explains in the film. “The consumers are actually getting to meet the person who provides them with their food.” He leads a group of young people to the local farmers’ market, where they select from a rainbow of healthy, fresh produce, and then go prepare it and share it together.
As the camera pans the diverse group enjoying a luscious local meal, the film’s narrator says, “Each one of us plays an active role in the larger food chain. We’re an essential part of the story.” As I light the peace lamp today, I invite each of us to think about the respective roles we play in the story. What can I do to nourish my body, the earth, our community?
• Spend 10 more of my food dollars on locally grown food each week;
• Make time to visit one of the farmers we’re blessed to know;
• Plant some garlic this fall or plan a garden for next spring;
• Volunteer or lease a plot in the Cumberland Community Garden;
• Share one more slow food breakfast, lunch, or dinner per week.
As Michael Pollan, author and food activist, observes in the film, “Food is not just fuel. Food is about family, food is about community, food is about identity, and we nourish all those things when we eat well.”
I hope you can join us on October 29th for food, film, and fellowship.