Monday, May 10, 2010

Sometimes we say Food is Love. But is food love?

by: Allison Liefer

The last image I hold of my grandmother before her stroke, she was in her big vegetable and flower garden, in the lawn of the farm where she was a working wife for sixty-odd years, wearing her house shorts, bending over at the waist to pull chard. She put the chard in a big plastic bowl, which she took to the pump and filled it with water. She sloshed the chard around in the bowl, dumped the water, pumped the well again, and on and on until the greens were clean enough to shake dry under the August sun, and send home, back to the city, with me. Giving is love. Selfless work is love. And making little offerings - these hold love. Being together with family, ideally, is love. So it’s not the food that’s love, it’s the togetherness and giving and effort expended to the end of giving – that’s the love.

It’s an important distinction, one I hope the students Common Threads teaches understand, and one our curriculum emphasizes: At the end of each Common Threads class, our students sit and eat together, having worked together as a classroom family to create their wholesome meal. And Common Threads is working to ensure our kids are taking home our recipes and their skills to their own families too – We’re giving parents cookbooks, inviting them to parent meetings to learn healthy cooking techniques themselves, and piloting two programs aimed at bringing the families we serve food they can’t always get in their neighborhoods: market baskets of fresh local produce at a great discount, and pantry kits full of things like olive oil, spices, and rice, the pantry staples that make healthy cooking at home easier.

At Common Threads, we believe the act of cooking and eating healthy food together is a priceless, valuable act, one that families can and should share together. Our simple hope is simply that children get enough healthy food and enough love to sustain them. And actually, it seems that at least some of our kids DO get it! Here are two answers to the question “Why do you want to take Common Threads?” from students at some of our partner schools applying for the next Cooking Skills and World Cuisine session:

“I like to cook because I can tell people how to cook. Also, I can tell my mom and dad new recipe[s] as l learn. “– Imani Janae Pearce, age 8

“I want to cook very healthy food so people can eat it. I want to make healthy food for everyone so we can celebrate.” – Altari McBride, age 8