Lutheran's get a bad rap for putting on bland, unhealthy, white food potlucks. So I'm going to take a minute to sing the praises of the foods I enjoyed at church yesterday. And, speaking of singing praises, our choir practiced and sang the Listen to Your Children Praying... The quintessential ELCA message: Send us Love, Grace. We rocked, if I say so myself. We have a world class music director- Wayne and pianist Bonnie. Wow! these people are talented to just saddle up to the piano and bring forth such great music.
Back to the food... take a look at that plate. Four kinds of legumes (black eyed peas, kidney, lima, and butter beans); three veggies from the cruciferous family- brocolli, cauliflower, cabbage; local squash prepared with walnuts and cranberries (I bragged this one up enough that the leftovers were sent home with me! score); farm fresh, free range deviled eggs; apple crisp;carrots and more that simply wouldn't fit on my plate.
I live in a county with no fast food restaurants. You can't go to the grocery store in Clinton and buy a deli dish to bring to the potluck. Every single thing on that table (except the M&M's) was made from whole ingredients in a home kitchen. Made by women who know how to cook. Made by people with food traditions that still draw upon farm and garden and whole ingredients.
When Michael Pollen, noted author of the Omnivores Dilemma, spoke to a crowd of 2,500 in Seattle this month he probably wasn't thinking of rural Lutherans. But the food culture that he says is missing in America, is still around in some places. Not perfect, mind you. You can get a corn dog and fries at the gas station on the corner of mainstreet and Hwy 75. So we haven't been entirely passed over.
But maybe this little church, and others like it, have a head start in Pollen's "Omnivores Solution:" Quote..
We need to seek the source of the wisdom about our food through place-based culture, aphorisms, myths, and rules handed down from parent to child. We no longer have a food culture defined by the best use of local resources, artistically shaped over time. We no longer have a "mom" that understands and prepares good food.
Making a sustainable change in the way we eat and diversifying our diet will support a diversified agriculture. Farmers markets do not sell "edible food-like substances," there you will find whole, minimally processed, fresh foods.
It is through farmers markets we discover that food is not a product, food is a relationship. And the relationship is not just with the farmer or the producer of our food, but also a relationship with our community. The farmers market has become the new public square.
And one of the best things to bring to the table is gratitude. Which is why I remind myself and my kids at every meal that "for what we are about to receive, let us be truly grateful."