Celebrating Food Day and World Food Day as a Community in New Mexico

The time to vote has come and gone, right? Not true, according to Foodology star Greg Gould, who claims we vote three times a day, probably more. That’s because you’re making an economic, political, and social justice choice every time you raise a fork to your mouth. GroupPhoto.jpg

For instance, if Americans in urban areas bought two fair trade chocolate bars a month, it could benefit 30,000 small-scale farmers. Or, if we were to join families in the Philippines, India, Brazil, Spain, and the UK in cooking more efficiently, the benefit would be the same as planting 540 million trees and letting them grow for 10 years. 

My favorite part about the worldwide GROW movement is that it’s not overwhelming. The idea is to think global, act local. It’s not hard to save food, cook smart, or eat a little less meat. It’s also reasonable to expect us to eat seasonally and support small-scale farmers.

GROWBanner.jpgOxfam’s been talking a lot about the GROW Method this fall, so we decided to practice what we preach in a big way. Four weekends ago, we celebrated our first World Food Day Community Dinner. We partnered with six different nonprofits, received donations from a dozen farms, and put twenty volunteers to work in shifts from 10am to 10pm. Everyone came away saying how wonderful the food tasted and with a greater understanding of how eating locally can make a global impact. 

I have to admit it was a little overwhelming when we laid all the food out on the counter in the church. Then something magical happened. Our community chef Kathy transformed into a contestant on one of those cooking show competitions. Challenge: make food for 100 people using the ingredients in the kitchen with only 6 helpers in under 5 hours. But unlike the people on those shows, everyone seemed to maintain their composition. Every time I glanced over, I saw people hard at work, but smiling.

And then, suddenly, it was dinnertime. Volunteers set out frothy watermelon juice in a glass punch bowl next to pitchers of sun tea. The produce from the counter (plus the donation from the co-op) became spicy pumpkin soup, chicken stew, bruschetta, shepherd’s pie, beans with tortillas, squash and greens, green chile bread, baguettes, and half a dozen different salads. The dessert table screamed fall with its peach squares, apple brown betties, dark chocolate covered apple slices and pumpkin puddingKitchenCrew.jpgAs I walked around, I heard great things about the food, and was happy to see people using the food icebreaker questions. There’s nothing like food to get strangers talking. 

When it came time to pledge GROW, some people said they will try Meatless Mondays, others vowed to chop vegetables and meat into smaller pieces for shorter cook times, and still others promised to buy CSAs and shop at the farmers market.

At the end of the night the cleaning crew came to the rescue. Right in line with the GROW Method, we didn’t have to throw anything away. With hoards of hungry guests, there weren’t many leftovers. Anything extra was split between volunteers while the kitchen scraps went to the pigs at Kimchi Farms.

Originally published on the Oxfam Action Corps - NM Blog: 

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