We will be taken on a journey which symbolises the context in which we began to tear asunder a nurturing interdependency with Mother Earth. We began to mine our own umbilicus, to produce, as we did so, the beginnings of corporate exploitation of the Earth’s resources.
Beginning with its people.
But, what is FOOD anyway? Do we eat to live or live to eat? Your response to that might depend upon where in the world you are sitting, squatting, lying or standing to have your next meal.
Are you even sure of your next meal? Are you responsible for its processing and preparation or is it going to be brought to you?
How are you even going to take in your food: is it in your mouth or through your skin? Is it cooked, processed or raw? Is it the real thing or a manufactured fake? How did you bring it home? Was it carried in your basket, a sack or shopping trolley? Perhaps it was not you who had to go out and fetch it? How did it reach these shores? By ship? Aeroplane? Or across an expanse of land?
Whether a vision, a dream or an unfolding nightmare, the story of food excites the imagination of everyone who eats.
Participating in this workshop will connect you to different ways of looking at how the unique, historical routes of Britain link it to its present day impact on culture, tastes, health, community, economics and oppression.
Do you define your experience with food in the world or has the world defined it for you?
What are the relationships that people of the world or of a particular region, have with food and what has shaped it? What continues to shape it? How does the experience economic marginality affect these relationships? How does culture shape these relationships? Is it food itself that is shaping our cultures and our levels of economic marginalisation?
Come prepared to be fully immersed in sound, tastes, touch and smell and to enter into further dimension of time as we take ourselves back to one of the most critical journeys that the food we eat has undergone and we begin to understand the nature of global Food Systems.
So what is ‘native’ to a region?
‘It is already almost impossible to assemble meaningful information on the origin and evolution of certain crops as the evidence dims and fades away with each passing year’.
Jack R. Harlan, 1975
‘Since the dawn of agriculture, seeds and crops have followed farmers and been exchanged between them over short and long distances. They have spread until they have met their environmental limits or were ousted by rival crops (Fowler and Mooney, 1990:38). Dispersal over long distances followed traders and explorers over land and sea. There was always an interest in new crops. Sumerians sent collectors to Asia Minor around 2500 B.C. in search of vines, figs and roses, and Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt sent an expedition to East Africa to collect incense trees in 1482 B.C. (Fowler 1994:4).These are only some few of many examples of wide distribution of crops in ancient time.’
Regine Andersen, 2001
This is a journey of displacements, replacements and complacency.
It revisits aspects of the trade, aid and plunder of the planet which underpins how most commonplace foods are distributed in the present day. Some turbulence is to be expected, but if you can stay with the ride and breathe through the experience, there will be all the more of a story to share when you eventually disembark.
The two hour workshop in which we will all be participants explores our right to have an affirming, organic relationship with the womb of the Earth and an understanding of its primary, nurturing relationship with all the forms that are through its labour created.
Our starting point, therefore is the way of the indigenous. We do not discriminate in binaries. There is no living earth and dead earth, all is one in a continuous orgasm of transformation. We affirm that Life is a gift of personhood on the earth and that this personhood extends to all that the Earth is created. If this is not your starting point, sit back and embark on this journey of learning and innersight, for as you wear a blindfold throughout the immersive experience, you will be guided by the person you travel with each day: your own inner being, and we will be assistants as you travel in time and across space.
Nor is there only one story, because there is not just one system. Over the history of human eating, what enters the definition of being food, as in what one places in one’s mouth and eats (swallows and digests) has changed.
If there is truth in the idea that we all started off as foragers and trappers, sometimes hunting, often gleaning from what nature had to offer, then modern day equivalents means we are recognising the need to come full circle. Entomophagy (the eating of insects) and gleaning networks (anti-food waste) prove the case. However, there are cultures in the world which have always recognised the importance of harvesting a wide variety of foods from the Earth: fried termites of West Africa, witchetty grubs of Australasia and the revisiting of fields to see what they might yield after the first harvest, by so many women farmers and gatherers of the world.
Not only this, but the definitions of how foods can be used continues to change, predominantly, in the Euro-American western world, based upon the ideas of corporate marketing departments, but what constitutes food is also based upon information supplied through the tentacles of knowledge gatherers reaching further and further into those cultures more closely associated with the lore of the land. Food is local, cultural and also celebrated within the cultural narratives of people who have land and those who have been dispossessed of theirs, because our memories have the longest tendrils reaching back into past lineages of meaning that we do not, so often, explore.
The Food Journey is, in some ways, a similar exploration of a what was, what is and maybe what could be of the stories of foodstuffs.
Based upon years of research, which continues, because life is always changing, this immersive journey, exposes you to just one of the major food transects the world has known. The passage of foods from the continent of Africa to the Americas has been also referred to, rather erroneously, as the Colombian exchange in deference to the Genoan/Catalan sailor Cristobal Colon who is referred to in English as Christopher Columbus. The colonising Dutch, English, such as the Drax family, Scots and Spanish were also transporting and introducing many new species into the Caribbean and, through the imperial botanical garden system, transporting many Caribbean species to far flung sites across the world. Their names are celebrated in many a botanical garden found in Europe. However, it was not only this man as he was not the only, literal, mover and shaker of the epoch. Furthermore, all those others, the Taino, the Arawak, the Carib, the African were also responsible for identifying, breeding, selecting, protecting and nurturing many ‘new’ species and varieties into being but remain nameless, even until the present day.
The Food Journey©