Final Savory Bite? We're Just Revving Up
Ahhh, it's delightful! And perfect. On the morning of this final day of the 116-day marathon of "Savory Bite" posts, honoring the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, I open the Sunday New York Times to find the annual food issue of the Sunday Magazine. This year, the stories are not about special diets or emerging chefs or exquisite restaurants. They focus on the ways food is regrowing communities, and the ways communities are returning to growing, cooking, preserving, and recycling their own food. I intend to luxuriate in this issue, with its many enticing titles, and I cannot both luxuriate and get this blog post completed on time, so I have read only Christine Muhlke's lead article, Growing Together: How the Food Movement Jumped the Plate, and the first few paragraphs of John T. Edge's Pie+Design=Change.
Let's have one quote, the first paragraph in Muhlke's piece:
When I began writing about American farmers and food artisans for this magazine's Field Report column two years ago, I set out to learn the story behind the people whose ingredients were driving chefs to create great dishes. Little did I know it would become a column about communities, of producers, of customers, of eaters and enthusiasts.
That's the thrilling change we are creating and experiencing, some of us. Not all. Muhlke points out that while farmers market numbers have reached 6,132, a nearly six-fold increase since 1994, the fast food industry brings in $170 Billion-with-a-B dollars each year, up from $6 Billion in 1970. Still, the tone of this influential national publication confirms what is happening in central Kentucky: more people are placing good food higher among their life priorities, whether it's growing our own, joining a Seedleaf Soup Group to cook for others, volunteering at a community garden or food pantry, starting a compost bin, asking about the source of ingredients before we order at a restaurant, planting a front yard garden, cooking with friends, and (the most amazing of all, to me) -- canning summer's bounty for winter pleasure.
My own deepening investment in food comes from many sources, beginning with Ruth and Lisle -- Mother and Dad -- for whom growing, cooking, sharing, serving, preserving, enjoying, and even composting food formed the warm, steady heart of everyday life. I have lived my entire adult life under the influence of the incomparable Wendell Berry, whose writing centers on the necessity and nobility of using our place and our time on earth wisely. Alice Waters came to Lexington and stated the revolutionary view that pleasure is a cause worthy of investment -- in her case, worth a lifetime of arduous work. Trying to make sense of the causes of the horrors of September 11, 2001, and the sorrow that followed, I reflected on what Mother and Dad, Mr. Berry, Ms. Waters, and so many other wise people teach about connection to the earth and to each other. Gradually, I committed to honoring their wisdom by investing more of my own life energy in food, community, hospitality, pleasure, and conviviality.
I am so far from alone. Hundreds of people in central Kentucky -- if not thousands -- are following similar paths. Our community gardening, "teaching garden," and "teaching kitchen" projects are growing deep roots, and beginning to attract substantial support. Recent books and articles suggest that food is "saving" towns and communities from Hardwick, Vermont to western Massachusetts to Detroit, Michigan. I trust it will save Kentucky, too. We are ripe for the saving.
Savoring Kentucky continues sprouting new posts and projects, now that the 116 Savory Bites have all been chewed and swallowed. Blog posts will not be daily, but they have to keep coming, because there are so many stories to share. One upcoming focus for Savoring Kentucky will be sorghum, as in "Sweet Sorghum Syrup" or "Sorghum Molasses" or, around here, just sorghum. We are in the peak of fresh sorghum production season.
Today, nicely timed, we shoot the photo for the cover of a small book, Sweet, Sweet Sorghum. Ideally we'll have copies for sale well before Thanksgiving, but no worries - you will hear PLENTY about this book.
One final note on 10-10-10, as WEG closes: This is also Global Work Party day at 350.org, with 7,347 community work events underway around the world to address the climate crisis. If you want a project on this gorgeous (globally warmed) day, look for one near you. Whether or not you work on a 350 project, you can eat from your own garden or from a nearby market today. Be planning your fall/winter gardening projects (sprouts?) and your 2011 growing schemes. Take those transportation oil molecules out of the food you eat, and savor, in community, with pleasure.
Kentucky-born writer and positive agitator Barbara Kingsolver gets the last word(s) today:
'Food is the rare moral arena in which the ethical choice is generally the one more likely to make you groan with pleasure.' 'Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (2007)
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The world is coming to visit central Kentucky this year for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. To help our visitors know more about Kentucky's food and food ways, Savoring Kentucky is rolling out 116 Savory Kentucky Bites, one for each of the 100 days before WEG begins, and 16 for the days during WEG, September 25 - October 10. Today's Savory Bite is number116.