To Be Bold and Learn New Things

My resolution for the new year is to be bold and learn new things. This is also my hope for my students. One of the joys of cooking is that there is always more to learn and master.  For me personally this will include improving in food photography, dedicating time to writing, and baking more, like the amazing Baked Alaska I made in December. It also means pushing myself to continue live authentically and believe in life’s potential.

This is a reflective time of year thinking about where I have been and what lies ahead.  Taking stock to know our foundation before moving ahead, lead me to thinking about what I believe.

I believe in eating whole foods, including animal fats. France can not be wrong about butter. I eat meat but hold respect for the animals that gave it. Everyone has to find what is right for them. Dining should be a pleasure that brings reverence, not out  of an emotion beset with guilt.

I believe in shopping where I can meet the farmers and producers more than at stores that charge a premium for shipping in exotic and ordinary produce from half a world away and having no connection to the people who tended to your food. I understand this is a privilege not afforded to all. I believe in voting with my fork  even though I cave for avocados. I acknowledge that the realities of life make this challenging and all we can do is try our best, a little everyday.

I believe that the company can make or break a meal and there is no substitute for the connection found in the kitchen and at the table. I know nothing better than a summer tomato eaten straight from the vine with just a pinch of salt.

We must make food choices we are comfortable with and fit with in our means. I hope to expand what that means for people.

Tomorrow is Food Tank’s first Food Tank Summit. I am excited to be challenged by new thoughts and inspired for the advancement of good, clean, fair food (to borrow from Slow Food). Some of the speakers answered the question

“What is the most important thing we can all do to help change the food system?” in 140 characters. My reflections are in my response:

  Cook at home with friends & family using local ingredients. Know your food origins, take pleasure in it & enjoy the adventure.
Add yours to the growing list at #FoodTank.

Chef Jose Andres, @chefjoseandres: “To eat today is a political statement. We vote with the food we choose to eat, and this is a power we need to use wisely and efficiently.”

Mike Curtin, DC Central Kitchen, @mikecurtindcck, @dcck: “Use food as a tool to strengthen bodies, empower minds, and build communities.”

Barbara Ekwall, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, @UNFAO: “I would highlight governance as most important issue, meaning inclusive participation, empowerment, rule of law, transparency and accountability.”

Che Axum, University of the District of Columbia, @udc_edu: “Stop expanding agriculture’s footprint, close crop yield gaps, use resources much more efficiently, shift diets away from meat, reduce food waste and move toward a ‘networked food system’.”

Laurie Benson, 1% for Women, @TossTheStone: “Through education and building awareness, we can help women find their voices and access the same resources available to their fathers, brothers and husbands, creating a better future for all.”

Jonathan Bloom, Author, American Wasteland, @wastedfood: “Connect with your food. Becoming a more educated eater tends to convert us into food activists (and make it much harder to waste food).”

Steve Brescia, Groundswell International, @groundswellint: “Support family farmers to spread agroecological farming, strengthen local food economies, and create enabling policies.”

Haley Burns, GWU Student, @GWTweets: “Walk the talk. If the story behind your food scares you, find something else to eat.”

Sarah Buzogany, City of Baltimore: “Build unlikely partnerships. Collaborate across the food system. Change agents can exist everywhere if you help cultivate them.”

Jahi Chappell, The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, @MJahi, @IATP: “We all have multiple backgrounds & identities; serve your community, but also be & build bridges between different local communities!”