Theodore Roosevelt’s bookplate bears the Roosevelt Family motto: Qui Plantavit Curabit; or “He Who Has Planted Will Preserve.” This motto speaks to a lot of the thoughts I’ve been having lately, as well as the reading below. In a time of political upheaval and a lot of national stress, it’s apt to remember that sowing seeds entrusts hope, security, and promise in the future. Planting can mean a lot of things, from both literal planting to sowing innovation, sustainability, welcome, and partnership to benefit the growth of a nation into the future. Along those lines, some great reads from the past few weeks are collected below with notes.
Radical Homemakers, by Shannon Hayes, has been on my list of books to read for some time. Hayes lives in upstate New York and pursues a self sufficient, meaningful life with her family on their farm. In Radical Homemakers, Hayes travels the country and tells the stories of other homemakers who are pursuing a life of production, community, and sustainability in rural, urban, communal, and individual circumstances. Hayes has a powerful defense of homemaking as an empowering feminist and universal enterprise, and I found this book a great voice and clarification of a vision of home centered life as a site of production, happiness, and power.
I don’t eat much meat, often because I can’t discern how the meat products I am purchasing (especially at a grocery) were produced. I am from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where chicken production is a large industry, and I also have family in Northern Colorado in an area dotted with cattle feedlots. Having seen many of these animal living conditions first hand, I want no part of them (and seems that farmers increasingly don’t either). The New York Times recently published What to Make of Those Animal-Welfare Labels on Meat and Eggs by Stephanie Strom, which provides some great information about Animal Welfare packaging labels and what conditions for animals these labels represent.
Noma, the world renowned restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, will soon be reopened in a new location with an urban farm appended to the restaurant. In Lisa Abend’s profile and interview Rene Redzepi on Noma’s Last Supper in The Guardian, Chef Rene Redzepi discusses his goals to create innovative cuisine that looks to biodiversity, sustainability, and history to guide the future of food. While I probably can’t ever eat at Noma (although I stood outside once!), I am excited that a Chef with great resources and a public profile is innovating in food in ways that can be applied at a variety of levels to local cuisines, cities, and the future of eating.
Fictitious Dishes by Dinah Fried is a sharp little book that I have been hoping to get my hands on for a while. Fictitious Dishes is a compilation of Fried’s photos accompanying literary passages on meals and eating, where the images recreate or evoke the written experience of food. This was a simple and enjoyable book, and also speaks to the power food has to evoke memories, feelings, connections, and power in our lives.
Along the same lines, Patrick Radden Keefe’s New Yorker profile, Anthony Bourdain’s Moveable Feast, chronicles Anthony Bourdain’s life as a traveling food connoisseur and personality. As he has traveled the world for his show Parts Unknown and various other projects, Bourdain has increasingly commented on the power of food to ultimately connect and nourish people of all cultures.
In light of the recent immigration order and culturally divisive discourse (from many political angles) The Washington Post highlights efforts of restaurants, chefs, and writers to promote cultural understanding and connection through food. Many projects and efforts, including the very thoughtful Conflict Kitchen, are mentioned in Maura Judkis’s Can eating lead to understanding? In the case of Trump’s travel ban, some hope so.
Another effort is Food52‘s compilation; To Learn About the Foods of the Banned Countries, Open These Books. I have several of these excellent cookbooks, and I also feel strongly that eating diverse foods promotes education and appreciation for diverse cultures. Even when you can’t travel to a place or learn from a different person directly, appreciating diverse food is a path to respect for diverse ingredients, dishes, and people.
Thanks for reading, and happy Sunday! Looking to future, I encourage you to get cooking, and open your mind and your belly!