Building a Community Around Food

Building a Community Around Food

Mar 18

Photo of a happy cow

Happy food is about more than happy animals; it’s about happy ecosystems and, more importantly, happy people. Eating is something we all have in common, but not everyone is privileged enough to have a choice about how they enjoy it. Laura and I both grew up in families that took advantage of that choice. We ate dinner with our families and learned to love good food, good ingredients, and the good conversation that builds and grows in the kitchen and the dining room. Eating has the potential to bring people together, but this happens most when we know what we’re eating and can talk about it. It’s hard to bond over mystery meat and fried vegetables. (I can pick on fast food, because I’ve grown to dislike it so much, but it’s not the only weak link in our food culture.) Growing food and sharing it with others can build relationships, feed those in need of help, and grow communities, networks of people who are more than the sum of their parts.

As a natural extension of our efforts to support only humanely raised meat, Laura and I are getting more involved in the local food community, mostly centered around gardening. From the Simple Living Institute to, we are combing new resources and looking for our place to fit in to the food cycle. Although we still don’t feel the need to adhere to only local and organic produce, we understand the value of supporting and being aware of local farmers and like-minded peers.

Home Farming LogoI posted recently about an idea I had for a Neighborhood Garden Map, which I subsequently found out Triscuit had already started. I’ve since found something else that is similar: The People’s Garden initiative by the USDA. It’s very difficult to find information about the purpose of the campaign and how to get involved, but as far as I can tell, USDA offices began creating community gardens on-site or in nearby schools, and they have now expanded the movement to encourage individuals to start their own community gardens and add them to the People’s Garden map. Of course, being a government campaign, there is a lengthy application form involved, but it could still be a useful tool.

Orlando Food Not Bombs logoOn a somewhat different note, I also discovered the Orlando Food Not Bombs organization, which feeds groups of homeless people in parks around Central Florida. They only make vegan and vegetarian food to serve, but claim to be open to individuals bringing any type of food to contribute. This is a great way to give back to your community and see from a different point of view.

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