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What is Food?

June 14, 2011

I’ve been avoiding the blog not because I have nothing to say, but because I was hoping that one morning my thoughts would all just fall into a format that made sense. Sadly, this was not the case, and here we are. πŸ™‚

First, I’d like to just say that the Heston girls are fan.tas.tic.
We’ve only been together for a week and have already had so many fun times. They were SO sweet to make me a surprise birthday cake for my birthday, and introduced me to the amazing world of So You Think You Can Dance. We also have started trying out the local cuisine and have plans to buy tickets to the Civil War Reenactment on July 1st. Sound like a culturally relative time? I think so. I’ve also never laughed as hard as when we tried to learn group Spanish. We decided that all of us should go to the beginner’s Spanish class offered on Monday nights, and giggle fits ensued as Cam and I tried our hardest to forget French and try to successfully say “We have your food”… We’ll get it eventually πŸ™‚

Second, the quote “Food is an interaction, not an object,” by anthropologist Terry Eagleton as been the quote running through my head ever since I read it last Monday during lunch. I wrote it in my notebook, and on the whiteboard of the kitchen, as a reminder of what we are doing here. Coming together with different people over a meal is one of the most (if not THE most) significant way that humans bond. Think about it. Family dinners, taking your hot date out to a restaurant, bringing cookies to your friend’s house after a break up– they are all ways to bond and come together in a way that is culturally significant and extremely intimate. To have volunteers WANT to come help Cam and I make a hot meal for Circles (a Gettysburg-based group with the initiative to help people get out of poverty with the help of community members) and then be able to sit down with them and see that they don’t hate it was probably one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever been a part of.

Third, I’d like to point out that I have had my fair share of culture shock this week. Culture shock in good ole Gettysburg. It happened everywhere, and I was really surprised at myself for being surprised at how wrong my expectations of people were. I’m a sociology major–this isn’t supposed to happen!! It was small situations like going to the senior center for Friday Meals on Wheels (we repackage food to bring to the senior center so it can be delivered to the elderly who are home-bound). I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t the sassy, gin rummy playing, although careful-not-to-curse Chris, Ruth and Helen, my new best friends. So great. I didn’t know what I was expecting, but it was not sass.

It’s only been one week, but I already have a bunch of ideas for projects that I would love to get going here in Gettysburg, and [ironically] none of them were projects that I had intended on pursuing before I got here. It was a typical case of figuring out what THEY needed, rather than deciding on what I thought I needed to help them get going. I am most excited to work with both the senior center and a group of high school boys with autism make and maintain a community garden. This project was perfect for SO many reasons. The senior center attendees are on the search for entertainment AND access to fresh food (there is an astounding number of seniors in American that experience hunger and poor access to food– Read The Food Gap by Mark Winne), and the autistic boys want to build their skill set (including preparing their own food, picking their own produce, etc…) as well as learn WHERE their food comes from. All parties have expressed interest in helping me start this up, and I rented 5 books on gardening from the library on Friday so I am all set to get this show on the road.

Couldn’t be more excited. πŸ™‚

-Em

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