Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Local Food, Global Peace and the Green Sacred Spaces Awards 2013

Thanks to Kirsten Pedersen for writing this wonderful depiction of the evening:

Greening Sacred Spaces Awards and Celebrating World Food Day with a talk on Local Food, Global Peace. 
Kirsten Pedersen
On World Food Day 2013, Greening Sacred Spaces/Environment Hamilton and United Nations (Hamilton) invited the community to celebrate the presentations of the 2013 Green Sacred Spaces Awards and listen to a talk on Local Food, Global Peace by keynote speaker Hannah Renglich. 
I celebrated with many others listening to an engaging talk on international and local food issues and met the faces of people really doing great work for our community and food systems.  

The Green Sacred Spaces Awards 2013 were presented for outstanding leadership in greening public or sacred spaces.  The Awards were presented to the First Unitarian Church of Hamilton and Victory Gardens. The First Unitarian Church of Hamilton had a group of volunteers who have worked to incorporate native species in their organization’s gardens and help educate others about these species. Adding solar panels and improving CO2 emissions in the building, allowed the First Unitarian Church to be recognized as leaders in “greening” a sacred space.  
Hamilton Victory Gardens is an organization that converts urban spaces into productive gardens and engages volunteers in learning about food production. All of these recipients are such active people bettering our community and deserving of these award. 
Following the Awards came an informative entitled  Local Food, Global Peace: Connecting environment, health and security. The keynote speaker, Hannah Renglich, involved with Organic Food Co-operatives Network, and Peace Meal Projects, gave a thought provoking talk.  Renglich is quite knowledgeable and effective at engaging the audience in thinking about these ideas. We began with discussing the words Food and Global and interacting with others around us. Reinforcing the concept that food is a shared and universal experience.    
To engage the audience, Renglich, invited us to participate in a mindful-eating activity. If you have not participated in a mindfulness activity I suggest you to do so. I had done a mindful-eating activity before, but this was a new experience.   In our large group everyone was given raisins, only a small handful.  Most people held them in their hand, I received mine and after mindfully looking at them I plopped them in my mouth! I mindfully chewed and swallowed them, yummy, done. Then the activity began!  
As this mindfulness activity was taking place, it was a lesson for me in how unmindful we can be of the food we eat.  
Renglich lead us to consider the how the raisins grew, where did they come from? How many hands had been involved in getting them to us tonight? What was the soil like? Then when tasting the raisins, she discussed the sun and rain that grew these raisins, these are the taste of the sun, rain and soil. This appreciation for food, seen often around this time of year, reached a new level of appreciation for farming and our food system.
Seeing food as a cycle was a theme discussed by several of the speakers. Learning or knowing where food comes from, and then composting food and how farmers are directly connected to food as they replant into the soil.  As consumers, we are often so disconnected from food as a part of cycle. It is interesting to be reminded of this throughout the presentations, and to learn how others connected to food in its cycle.  

A panel of volunteers, responded to the questions and discussion points. Panelists included:  Alvaro Venturelli (Plan B Organics), Dave Carson (Hamilton Food Charter), Lesley Davis (Hamilton Regional Indian Centre), Graham Cubbit (Mustard Seed Food Co-operative), Karen Burson (Environment Hamilton).  Each informed us of their missions and how they related to Local food, Global peace. 
Great things are happening here in Hamilton around food and our food system. Discussions like this open the conversation, so that we consider how local food can be accessible and affordable to the many in need here. It identifies what organizations are out there doing and where future needs might be met. Finally, many of these organizations want to be self-reliant, depending less on government funding and more on an accessible and affordable food system.     
This really was a  'food- for-thought'  event.  Terms, new to me, were discussed such as: food security, food sovereignty, food deserts etc. And I discovered the City of Hamilton is developing a Food Charter. All these concepts and organizations are vague to me, yet interesting to learn more about. I picked up a resource page, listing Web-sites, Films and Books lots to learn on the topic of food which is too often taken for granted. 

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