Tag Archives: Sustainability

Food, Community & Identity

I was sitting in the cafe of the co-op when I noticed that in every direction I looked I saw kids and families. I was getting excited to see my own family when suddenly, I felt a jolt of elation followed by an intense feeling of sorrow. I realized in less than a month I’d be back home in Chicago, shopping at the chain supermarket that my parents go to. My first thought: I’m going to miss the co-op immensely.

The space of the co-op is unique and unlike your typical grocery store. You don’t just shop at City Market; you’re part of a community here. The shoppers, employees and volunteers work together 24-7 to support and strengthen the local economy and contribute to a more just and sustainable food system for Vermont. I love seeing the faces of people that enter City Market for the first time. Watching their jaws drop as they stare in astoundment at the bulk department or at the labeling system in the produce department. There is a sense of collective consciousness that is evident and hard to miss and elicits a sense of community, solidarity, innovation and a feeling of being part of something larger. All of the employees that i’ve talked to are passionate about their job and as a result, bring an intensity and enthusiasm to their work that I haven’t seen elsewhere. According to Craig Wilkens,

the “where” of of our sensory experience in the world have a profound influence on our ability to create individual and collective identities- to become, know and name who we are– premaritally because “space comprises the social arena in which individuals reproduce or challenge their experiential boundaries of action and interaction”.

In other words, identity is produced in and through our relation to space. I began to wonder if in some small way, my experiences at City Market had influenced my identify. If so, how?

I realized the wide-selection of Vermont made products; abundance of fresh, organic options; friendly employees and volunteers; and intimate, communal vibe at City Market truly has helped shaped my individual and collective food identity (how I interact with others in a food related context, how I relate to food itself in a co-op situation) For example, prior to shopping at the co-op I never thought I’d know the farmers who make my cheese and bread. Now that I do, I realize how comforting and reassuring this is. Being a co-op member has also allowed me to contribute to a larger collective identity that supports a local, sustainable food system. Furthermore, being a Member Worker has brought an unanticipated source of pleasure to my life and added to my self-definition. It’s introduced me to new people with a similar interests and passions (mostly for food, cooking and health) 🙂

One thing’s for sure, I will definitely miss the co-op this summer. What about you guys, how does your local grocery store, farmers market or co-op create community? If it doesn’t, why do you think this is?

FN 4/16

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How is this blog different?

As a lover of all things food, I’ve become increasingly aware of just how many food blogs there are that offer delicious, healthy recipes, but also place an emphasis on community and the importance of using sustainably produced, local, organic, and whole foods when cooking. Some of my current favorites are My New Roots, Green Kitchen Stories, and Sprouted Kitchen. That said, with so many healthy food blogs, you might be asking yourself-  how is this different?

Have you ever read a food or health related article that you can’t stop thinking about? The kind that you go home and email your friends, talk about with mom on the phone and find yourself re- reading before bed? Maybe I’m just a huge food dork, but this happened to recently with social researcher, Jennifer Brady’s article Cooking as Inquiry: A Method to Stir Up Prevailing Ways of Knowing Food, Body, and Identity. In the article, she suggests that cooking can be used as a form of inquiry, or a process to explore the embodied self as it relates to foodmaking. Brady recognizes  the body and food as sites of knowledge and  uses a reflexive, collaborative “visceral approach” as a means of “thinking through the body” to enlist “the sensations, moods and ways of being that emerge from our sensory engagement with the material and discursive environments in which we live” [1].  As I’m very interested in furthering my understanding of cooking as inquiry, I will incorporate some of the practices and frameworks for thinking about the relationship between food, the body, the self into my posts.

In my blog, I hope to raise important questions such as: how are issues of power negotiated through cooking? How does the space of city market encourage or discourage social relations in cooking and food connect us to others and allow us to learn more about our food source? How does privilege and access affect ones purchasing decisions and thus health? What kind of people are purchasing healthy foods, and who is not? How do we make sustainably produced and nourishing foods available to everyone? Is this possible?

As a student at the University of Vermont, I’m studying Environmental Studies, Food Systems and Women’s and Gender Studies. I’m also very interested in Food Justice issues and hope that my academic studies, combined with my love of cooking, eating and community will offer a unique  perspective on issues regarding local, organic, and healthy foods.

WP 2/23