One Hundred Meals, One Hundred Conversations, One Community?

Introducing “One Hundred Meals – Building Community At America’s Table”

written by Ellen and Grant

 

One Hundred Meals

Recently, Grant and I had an opportunity to sit down with some “industrial farming” folks over breakfast, on the invitation of the US Farmers & Ranchers Alliance. The group, which appears to have deep ties to Big Ag, was formed to help American farmers and ranchers of all stripes and sizes connect with the American public.

It didn’t go over very well. But, if you look in the comments, it did, in fact, start a conversation.

We learned about folks who are experimenting with half GMO corn in their field because the corn borer just might be extra virulent this year, since winter wasn’t winter at all. You know, we get that. Really — though we still have a lot of questions about GM crops we’d like to discuss.

We started learning a bit about the finances of big meat from a former board member of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. We might not agree with him — OK, we don’t agree with him — but we started feeling the need to at least understand him.

We got challenged about feeding the poor. It seems no one has any good answer about that, to be honest, but it does loom large over all our heads as the world’s exponential population growth makes the magnitudes of future peoples who will need food nothing short of staggering.

We launched discussions with an industrial dairy man about why we can’t get raw milk and while he talked a lot about safety, we talked a lot about how the dairy idea of safety and our idea of safety are two different things. And we want to know where we can turn to, maybe, get our voice heard.

And we learned that industrial farmers are often terrorized in their homes by “well-meaning” foodies who commit violence, vandalism and other hate crimes in the name of saving the food supply. Scary but true.

In other words, we started learning what the other side is thinking — and that they were, in fact, thinking — and we realized that what seems to be missing in the food dialogue is active conversation with people who don’t agree with each other. This also led to us meeting Just Farmers and we’re thrilled to feel a kindred spirit here that is looking for healthy dialogue and understanding!

We’re not talking about groups of people setting out to educate the other side. We definitely are not talking about getting the propaganda right. We’re talking about actual dialogue. The kind that sparks new ideas, broader thinking and maybe even builds some new communities.

Because in a world where one Obama is greenlighting GMOs while the other is promoting a family garden, we believe it might be time for all of us to take a step back and learn. Time to unravel the crazy contradictions, to wade through the misinformation and disinformation and get to the bottom of the hypocrisies we all have about our food supply.

Our goal is to at least understand where our food supply went off the rails and how we are supposed to live — and make good decisions about what we eat — within the bubbling mess.

After all, it can become a little difficult to make the right decisions when the answers to just about all the questions are murky and complicated. Heck, we’d venture that even the questions are essentially murky and complicated.

So, we decided to start a project

The idea is pretty simple: start sorting out the questions, meet with the people in our food community that can give us some answers, experience first hand the realities of food, and build a platform for people on all sides of the conversation to come together and discuss those questions and answers.

To, really, bridge the divide and build community through One Hundred Meals.

Here’s the rundown:

  • We’re gonna eat One Hundred Meals with people who are involved in our food supply. We want to eat with GMO advocates, urban foragers working with the homeless, farmers of all stripes, policy makers, and even some regular folks. You can see here who we have in mind: Meal Plan. Each one of those meals is designed to get us out of our comfort zone and into a learning zone — helping us stand up and face parts of our food supply we don’t want to think about but should probably know about.
  • We’ll share photos and stories from the meal, inviting all participants to weigh in and present their ideas and thoughts so that everyone has an equal opportunity to say what is on their mind.
  • Our goal is to open up productive discussion. On the website, we are planning an extensive discussion platform and we’ll invite all to participate. But, we’ll also work to keep the conversation civil — so we hope you’ll join in but we also need you to add to the discussion, not just drag it down.
  • We’ll share an extensive reading list from all sides, helping our readers learn about topics holistically, instead of just from their own vantage point — an opportunity sorely missed in most everyday discourse.
  • Although we definitely have opinions, our goal for the site is to try to approach each topic as neutrally as possible and with as much humility as possible. We invite you to tell us if we veer off course.
  • We’d like to be a platform for building a community of food that helps everyone learn, grow, and hopefully, eat.

We had a wonderful Meal One with Natasha Godard and her husband Bill, exploring science and research in the food system. (Who doesn’t love huevos rancheros?) It gave Grant a new lens with which to look at scientific literature and it pushed me to learn more about GMOs and left me mulling over the unknown unknowns of science.

As I wrote on Backyarditarian.com, we both, Grant and I, would like to explore our food shed, for a time, in the spirit of the Nash Equilibrium — an expression of game theory where, in order to win, each person in food needs to make choices that contribute to everyone’s welfare.

After all, food is not a zero sum game. We either all win or, frankly, we are all going to lose.

 

▪   ▪   ▪

Help us! You have knowledge and opinions and there’s no better way for you to help consumers understand farming from your perspective than by joining the conversation! Please follow One Hundred Meals (click the email sign up or watch for post announcements via Twitter @OneHundredMeals) and jump in on the comments. We need to hear from you!

 ▪   ▪   ▪

Bios

Ellen Malloy

 

I have a culinary degree, a sommelier certificate and strive to make everything I consume at home — from homemade butter and Worcestershire sauce to shelf-stable chili, chicken stock and even head cheese.

 

I used to think I knew too much about food. Lately, I am realizing that I only know food through one prism — and it’s a narrow one. It’s informed by my now 25-year commitment to sustainably raised food (first, organic, then local, then backyard and homesteady), by years working closely with chefs whose passion for ingredients demanded close relationships with farmers, and by a rather voracious habit of reading the kind of studies, books, articles and blogs that confirm my belief that what is in our food supply ain’t, well, kosher. That said, I am realizing that narrow-mindedness leads to narrow ideas and when it comes to the challenges of our food supply what we need is expansive imaginations. I hope to meet a few in the One Hundred Meals project.

 

Grant Kessler

I grew up a picky eater, surviving on peanut butter until a year spent living abroad in high school expanded my food interests. My growing love of food and cooking combined with my career choice and I became a freelance food photographer based in Chicago, working with chefs in the top restaurants. For years I chased their styles in my own cooking, creating elaborate meals at home and for friends. But as I became exposed to produce from farmers markets and the thinking behind buying local, in-season foods, without packages and from people with names, I realized simpler is better. I find an heirloom tomato slice drizzled with olive oil and a pinch of salt is so much more nourishing than an overwrought tomato soufflé!

I blog about exploring MyFoodshed, delving into backyard gardening, chickens, small farms and local foods. In the case of 95% of what I eat, I know exactly where it came from, how it grew, how it was raised and by whom. But that is the story of only a tiny (but growing!) fraction of food in our country. We have a complex food system and I look forward to trying to understand more of it on this One Hundred Meals project.

 

 

33 comments

  1. To all involved in this project; This is amazing! I think we all will learn something from this venture! I'm excited to follow along with every meal!

  2. Mike Haley says:

    Love this idea of exploring how food is raised and grown!

  3. Let me know how I can help.

    • Ellen Malloy says:

      Anthony, depending on where in the country you are located, we'd love to have a meal with anyone who can help broaden the conversation. If you are somewhere we can't afford to travel to, give us some ideas to explore or understand by commenting on our blog!

  4. Anthony (everyone, really) you can help by being a voice in the conversation. It is not about us hearing ourselves talk. We do meals and launch conversations but readers have to read and respond! Share your perspective!

    - Grant

  5. GMO’s in pregnant women includes fetal exposure, Canadian Study.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1388888/GM-food-toxins-blood-93-unborn-babies.html
    This was in 2010 so why haven’t we in the U.S. heard about this? From the original report:
    http://www.laleva.org/eng/docs/ReproductiveToxicology.pdf

  6. This is so exciting! When I walked away from breakfast that morning, I didn't believe we would be headed here. Way to go Ellen and Grant. Enjoy and Good Luck on your journey. I plan on reading all about it.

    • Ellen Malloy says:

      Thanks, Janice! Ray and Mike did A LOT to help bridge the large, scary gulf. I think the USFRA would learn a lot from their approach — it isn't about soundbites and staying on message, it is really about compassion and listening. Not trying to educate. In the end, they are educating us but it is because it isn't their primary goal. I think that is the difference!

    • We may have got off on the wrong foot. I really just went to Chicago to learn something, visit the Big City and meet some new people. I sat with a food magazine editor. She told us about her typical day and then we shared ours. It was fun. I hope we can re-meet again sometime. Until then enjoy your journey and keep blogging, I enjoy reading.

  7. Farmers says:

    Sitting down to have meals with a farmer to learn how it is grown, what a wonderful thought and hope all our fans enjoy following the http://onehundredmeals.com blog as they explore the diversity amoung America's Farmers!

  8. Long live the conversation! Just like Dan Toland, from Ohio Farm Bureau, wrote recently about flipping the "consumers don't know anything about farmers" phrase on its head to: "farmers don't know anything about their customers," this encourages a civil discussion so we all can start learning. Looking forward to reading and learning more!

    • Holly Stebbins Michael says:

      Just got lost in a maze of links. Lots of interesting stuff to read.

    • Ellen Malloy says:

      YES! FARM AND DAIRY! This is precisely why I personally went from screaming hot mess of fear to learning the dairyman's handshake, even! Grant and I would love to continue this conversation with you if you are open to a Meal!!!! Please let us know!

  9. I hope to be on the meal list! My treat!

  10. Gene Hall says:

    I'm encouraged by this open and honest exchange!

  11. Nori Naylor says:

    Like the concept, but who is missing from this conversation? Those that don't have access to social media, those who speak a language other than English, those whose hands harvest the crops eaten at the meal. Those who will probably have never eaten whatever you're planning to prepare. And those that probably will not be able to read the resources you compile. Sorry, I guess this hit a nerve.

  12. Nori Naylor says:

    I like the concept, but who is missing from this conversation?

  13. Ray Prock says:

    Just the other night Robert Smit and I enjoyed a meal with Ellen and Grant, I'm not sure we got all their questions answered because we spent so much time laughing and cutting up. One of the most enjoyable meals I have ever had! I am truly humbled and priviliged to have gained their friendship. Stay tuned for a blog post with more detail of my view.

  14. I loved as much as you’ll receive carried out right here.
    The sketch is tasteful, your authored material
    stylish. nonetheless, you command get bought an edginess over that you wish be
    delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come more formerly again
    as exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this hike.

  15. Camarowiki.Com

    One Hundred Meals, One Hundred Conversations, One Community? | Just Farmers

  16. super.madcma.org

    One Hundred Meals, One Hundred Conversations, One Community? | Just Farmers

  17. Armando says:

    Armando

    One Hundred Meals, One Hundred Conversations, One Community? | Just Farmers

  18. simply click the next website

    One Hundred Meals, One Hundred Conversations, One Community? | Just Farmers

  19. Dev.winterswellness.com

    One Hundred Meals, One Hundred Conversations, One Community? | Just Farmers

  20. voucher codes http colin hall ing facebook co uk facebook

    One Hundred Meals, One Hundred Conversations, One Community? | Just Farmers

  21. ocado new Cfc

    One Hundred Meals, One Hundred Conversations, One Community? | Just Farmers

  22. insurance xchange

    One Hundred Meals, One Hundred Conversations, One Community? | Just Farmers

Leave a Reply