I would love to think that I only post when I feel I have something to say, but the reality is that life and work get in the way of having enough brain space to think about what I want to say. It is a luxury for me that I have had a week day off work, how is it, that the fact it is a weekday and not a weekend day makes all the difference?
I have recently completed ” Leading beyond Sustainability”, through MindLab ( a N.Z based Tertiary learning provider). I am a big believer in constant learning, there is so much information out there, so many interesting people to know more about, so many approaches to thinking and new skills to learn. As a Food Design Coach I think it is important to keep up with latest thinking and ideas, its more than just a “nice to do” but integral to the value you bring to your clients. The best part of learning is not always what you learn but the way your brain makes new connections, a kind of stealth learning, which alters the way you have previously thought about something, sets you off on a new path or makes you think more deeply about one aspect of what you do.
I chose this course as I felt it aligned with the direction I want my work to go in, and yes I learnt a lot about all types of sustainability. I learnt about the financial and human costs of countries ignoring or paying lip service to sustainability issues, and I learnt more about possible solutions plus people actively working in the solutions area, these are all important things to know more about. All of this thinking fed back into the circular mapping project I have been developing for use with start up food businesses, this is the “leading beyond” part of the course. As I said earlier, sometimes it is the stealth learning that can alter your focus. We were encouraged to look deeper into the concepts behind sustainable issues and possible solutions. In all the research and reading I was doing I came across one quote which became personally impactful.
“…maintaining cultural beliefs, cultural practices, heritage conservation, culture as is own entity and attempting to answer the question of whether or not any given cultures will exist in the context of the future.”definitions.net
I came across the above quote on Cultural Sustainability from Definitions.net, the end of that sentence is, frankly scary… “whether or not any given cultures will exist in the context of the future“. Wowsers, that’s a biggie.
Food is the thing that powers humans, it is the way we interact with our environment, it is the medium we use to connect to others. Food holds memories of place and time, it can link us to our ancestors or create new futures . Food can be ritualized, it can reflect shared values and can be a political tool. Food is also the soil crops are grown into, the land and water that animals grow from, the seasonal planting and harvesting. Food in its entirety is Culture.
For me, as a person whose lineage comes from generations of cultural and religious refugees, whose culture has been wiped from history and replaced with untruths, this acknowledgement of foods importance in retaining and building culture is important to me. A deep ancestral connection to land is one of the most held values among indigenous peoples of the world. In Aotearoa/New Zealand we have the word, turangawaewae, it is one of the key principals of Te Ao Maori, it is about your connection to place. All other guiding principals and values flow from this point. The phrase of culture no longer existing became a catalyst for me to recognize a kernel of thought that had been there from my early food design days but I hadn’t known how to express it.
When I work with a start up business I want to know about their product idea, how they came up with the it, what is the history of their product or ingredients and where they sit on the continuum of that product, the focus has been more on what innovation they are bringing to the product. I feel now I want to understand the manakitanga or respect through acknowledgement they bring to their product. Food is an evolving language, you take an idea from here and substitute a ingredient and make a personal tweek but all food contains a part of its origin story.
There is an episode of Ugly Delicious were chef David Chang delves into this cultural issue through the medium of Fried Chicken . Just watch Season 1 episode 6 Fried Chicken https://www.netflix.com/nz/title/80170368 as Chang explains the complexity of food histories in a far better way that I could. Please watch it.
I would love to hear your thoughts.