Sharing Food, Building Happiness

To be around excellent parents raising fine young children is to acquire some valuable, free continuing education credits in what matters. "Share with your sister." "Say 'Thank you.'" "How would you feel if somebody wouldn't play Lego with you?" "Remember the word we are not saying now? Mine." 

These are the necessary statements of timeless truth: we are interconnected. Life flourishes when we cooperate. Happiness increases when we connect. We get more done together. Just share.  

Savoring Kentucky happily shares something this week: the restoration of our small, idiosyncratic Recipes collection. The recipes disappeared during our move to a new blogging platform eight months ago. Now they return to their rightful place, thanks to the careful, persistent work of summer intern and University of Kentucky Business major Clint Sexton. Across Savoring Kentucky's seven years, no matter how useful or interesting any blog post may seem to its author, it's the recipe pages that attract the most readers and interest. And so it should be.

Recipe sharing helps all of us in our major project of feeding ourselves and feeding others. Most recipes depend on legions of other cooks' experience for their effectiveness. Let us allow exceptions for the Adria brothers, Grant Achatz, and Wylie Dufresne, who used new technology to entice food into entirely new forms. We also exempt those essential people who develop and sell cookbooks for their livelihood. The rest of us thrive on sharing recipes, sharing cooking, and sharing food and drink.

Sharing the work of survival turns that work into deep satisfaction. In Community and the Politics of Place, Daniel Kemmis describes the accomplishments possible through contemporary forms of barn-raising, even when those sharing the work do not like each other. Big work requires neighbors to pitch in, since "Everyone was needed by everyone else in one capacity or another." That aptly describes the world, even when we forget it for a few minutes or a few decades.

Creative people embroider on old themes of sharing and exchanging to expand our access to both necessities and luxuries. At times, the boundaries blur between enterprise and straightforward mutual interest. Some manifestations include barter economies, local currencies like Ithaca Hours, and new enterprise structures supporting renting a car for an hour or a stranger's extra bedroom for an evening.

In the world of food, three relatively recent inventions invite attention and participation:

  • Slow Money, essentially a framework for encouraging and connecting willing individual lenders with local food enterprises in need of small loans.
  • Mealku, a database-powered way to share the extra grilled eggplant rollatini you made for dinner or enjoy a stranger's excess Paleo Cassoulet (hat tip RG!)
  • Food swaps: recurring events organized to make it easy for community members to trade homemade, homegrown, or foraged foods, usually while also sharing a potluck meal.

All forms of sharing involve some level of trust. Successful sharing builds more trust. Trust supports security and deepens our sense of safety and well-being. Trust is worth work; it expands our personal and collective capacity.

At their most basic, potluck meals stoke trust, sharing, and connection, all of which serve as building blocks for more elaborate community and economic structures. That's the loftiest reason you are always welcome at Monday night Cornbread Suppers. The other reasons are just for fun, just for delight. That, plus the opportunity to be with young children and their excellent parents, continuing our joint, crucial education in the necessity and practicality of sharing our world.


Rona RobertsComment