Don't mind me,
I'm just browsing photos of historical buildings in Colombia, thinking about the future.
What comes to mind when you think of "the future"?
Who knows whether we will need to operate ever more minuscule and intuitive technology, or fight the roving hordes who come running when they smell you roasting a radioactive squirrel in a hubcap oven? Or both? It's the stuff of stories, and really, it's anyone's guess.
Except, I am going to make a wild-eyed prediction about the future. Something I say with all the zealous certainty of a tin foil cap wearing conspiracy theorist, or an old mom who took too many years to realize that dinner is a thing you really do have to make daily: in the future every living human is going to eat or try to eat, maybe even several times, everyday.
I know, kooky, right? But, I am willing to bet on it, which is why I believe in feeding kids well, and equipping them with the values and skills they will need to feed themselves and others as they grow up, because whatever the future looks like will be a result of what they do. And, what they do will be, in part, a result of what they learn now.
Whitney Houston was right!
"I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way."
So was Albert Camus,
"Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present."
The present is where I find myself, currently typing out this blog in Colombia, a country with a sensational food culture which comes from its vibrant history. When I consider what I wish the future of all the little food eaters would hold, I can't help but think of the past.
It seems that, in order to follow the teachings of Mrs. Houston and Mr. Camus, now is the time to strengthen the link between yesterday and tomorrow. For my friends and me, that is the purpose of today. Well, this month, really.
Meet my friends, Juan Camilo and Marcela. We may just look like three dorks with a Subaru and a selfie stick, but in our minds, we are a gang of food rebels, trying to infuse the food of the future with, perhaps fading, skills from our past.
Thanks to an opportunity granted us by the Fundación Niños de Los Andes, here in Manizales, Colombia, 25 kids will be participating in a comprehensive workshop, where they get their hands dirty, sticky, and covered in paint, all in the name of eating better in the years to come.
Like the legs of a dining room table, this workshop has four principles upon which it stands.
1. Plant dinner: Dinner doesn't really start in the kitchen, or at the store, it starts with the soil.
So that's where we started, with rich soil for seed-starting and transplanting.
It makes sense to want our food to eat well too.
2. Intergenerational Culinary Instruction: that's just my lofty name for kids learning kitchen skills from adults.
Without hands-on familiarity, something like the lettuce we just planted seems pointless, and bread? Well that's just magic. Who can make that? While I would love to spawn a whole generational of crusty little artisans, that is not the goal here.
We want to spark who knows what in all the little brains by showing them that these skills are easy, well within reach, and too valuable to lose. What else might be possible?
3. The Art of Presentation: they say you first enjoy food with your eyes, which is why the best-tasting stuff will be passed over if it looks unappetizing. Not important when you're feeding yourself, but what if you want to enter the food system as a producer?
Aesthetics matters, so all Food of the Future participants are taught basic plating principles and invited to photograph their dish in our Caja de Luz (light box),
to diffuse light and bring all that high res yumminess into crystal clear focus.
4. To Market: later this month, we will complete our lessons with a day at the local farmers market, selling fare produced in our workshop. Participating kids will interact with the wider community, describe their work, and hopefully see some glimpse of the potential they possess while helping man a table for a Saturday.
We have just started, and already enjoyed many rewards from our first couple of classes. As we look forward to the days ahead, planting seeds and skills from the past in this fresh crop of people, we plan, prepare, involve, include, communicate, and share.
So keep watching this space, because who knows what wonders may grow!