For many years when someone asked me "what do you do?" I had a fairly straightforward answer "I'm a chef". When the conversation ventured into "what kind of food do you cook?" or "what's your specialty?" I'd try and find some way to explain a lifetime of experience and love of food in a sentence or two; not the easiest task, but people generally left the conversation understanding that I wield a knife and know how to make a royal delicious mess in a kitchen.
These days however, when people ask me what I do, the conversation goes something like this:
"what do you do?"
"I'm a chef, but I primarily do food justice work in the community."
"what is food justice?"
...and then ensues a long and winding conversation about equal access to healthy food for all people, growing food, food education, food policy, cooking classes, composting, food stamps, breastfeeding, economic development and food, food business incubators, food business resource centers, healthy corner stores, sustainably raised food, connecting farms with cities, and so much more....
I have a feeling that people leave this conversation with a vague idea of what I'm talking about, but not really certain what I do. It was a lot easier to just say, "I'm a Chef", but it's so much more statisfying to be living the work that I truly believe in and discovering and building the path infront of me each step of the way....and with so many more wonderful partners than when I stood behind a stove all day. I often summarize my new work as, "community building through food", and just leave people wondering a bit.
Speaking of wondering, some of you may be curious about the lack of posts on my blog as of late. The answer to this query is much the same as the story of my work life above...it's easier to write about cooking and food than the more complicated world of food justice.... or at least it takes a little more time to write about it, and time is in short supply in the busy life of work I have in front of me right now.
Link to a New Haven Independent Article on
community outreach with the New Haven Food Policy Council and CitySeed
Check out www.NHFoodPolicyCouncil.org for more details to events listed below:
New Haven Food Action Plan - a draft plan from the New Haven Food Policy Council - open for comment until mid October. - see the link on the webpage above.
Community Feedback with the New Haven Food Policy Council (those colorful post-its to the left are people's ideas of what should be done to improve food issues in out city.)
Feast From the Fields - Saturday Sept. 29, Common Ground fundraising dinner and auction
New Haven Food Summit, w/ guest Will Allen of Growing Power - October 12, 2012
The Big Stink, October 13, 2012 - making a stink about growing food in New Haven, a citywide bus tour and garlic planting.
Food Day 2012 - www.foodday.org
Two other great events in October you might want to know about:
New Haven Land Trust 30th Anniversary Gala dinner with Will Allen
15th Annual Cook & Care Walk-a-thon
to benefit 4 area emergency food providers
A Food Month poster should be available soon...
Please read the Food Action Plan on the city website and let me know what you think! -Tagan