Know what’s great about food as a movement? It’s about food. People love food. Whether they struggle with it, celebrate with it, do it in gulp-fulls between keystrokes, or don’t (consciously) think about it at all. You have to do food or you die.
Food meta-values are those bonds that trump every divisive identifier we can think of to keep us separate: what color you are; how much money you have; what language you speak; what you think of your parents; if you like your job; how you vote; if you pray. We all have to eat and we all want health, connection, and joy in our lives.
This week, Carrotmob released a new video for Old Skool Cafe – a project out of Hunters Point, San Francisco led by an amazing woman with a Supersize heart who wants to give young people a place to work, commune and thrive. No surprise: it centers on food. (Check out their video, Come hungry, leave inspired. It will warm your spirits on a chilly Saturday morning.)
Food pulls us together. We are helpless to resist. We come to the table because we must. And we gather to eat — as we have since the first fire pit some 790,000-odd years ago. This is the built-in benefit of food.
Compare climate change as a movement. Obama is just now getting it on the proverbial plate. Meanwhile, the First Lady has been building momentum around Let’s Move for years. The difference? Climate is hard to personalize. It’s biblical in proportion to the plate, which is “bite-sized” and enormously personal.
Choosing what to put on your plate, where to buy it, and whom to eat it with are heart and stomach decisions as much as they are heady. And when values get into your stomach and heart — things get primal. And that’s powerful.
At Food Sol at Babson College, we harness the meta-values of food every week at Community Table. For ninety minutes (come when you can), we gather to talk about the food questions, ideas, and actions that matter to us individually, personally and professionally. Eaters and entrepreneurs of all cultures, value sets, awareness levels, and concerns share their lunchtime with one another and build a community around curiosity, generosity and welcome.
Community Table could be a simple networking exercise or open house. But we intentionally design its flow and style to surface and reflect food meta-values. Through such values, we collectively create a very different sort of experience. We create a bit of a family.
We don’t have a fire pit, but we do stoke a symbolic fire — one tended and intended to connect us in the midst of a whirling, rushing, hyper-individualized world.