The theme for session four was food, always a favourite topic in these meetings.
We began by sharing some personal stories about food and what it means to us. Interestingly, many of our fondest memories came from experiences eating simple, local food, from home-made pizza using ingredients in the garden, to eating kimchi in Korea. It was a reminder that food is about so much more than what we put in our mouths – it’s something that connects us with our local environment and the people around us.
This led nicely into our next activity where we reflected on the wider meaning of food. Our conversation showed how food is connected with so many other aspects of our lives, from family relationships (sometimes tense, sometimes harmonious) to the vicissitudes of our emotional lives, to how our kitchens are designed. It really is something that shapes, and is shaped by, so many aspects of our lives.
Then we did the main activity of the evening: a game where we had to figure out the carbon footprint of all sorts of different foods, according to the different stages in their life-cycle (production, processing, packaging and transportation). The task of thinking about all the complicated elements that go into food production was fascinating in itself and highlighted how energy-intensive our food system is.
So what did we take away from the evening? Well, the obvious choice to keep our carbon emissions down is to eat fresh and eat local. But also to be vigilent! As one person pointed out, it’s all well and good going to a locally-owned restaurant. But if you order New Zealand lamb with Peruvian asparagus that somewhat defeats the point! Although it might seem difficult, we need to think about making smart decisions about our food choices everywhere we go The good news however, is that with practice, it soon becomes second nature.