I go to school in New York City, and as much of a privilege as it is to live here, I feel entirely disconnected from the earth here. Last Saturday, the simple task of collecting acorns with my friend in Central Park restored that connection just a bit. This week I’m hoping to fulfill my longtime dream of being like Sam Gribley from My Side of the Mountain by making acorn pancakes. I think there’s something so appealing about slowing down the usually quick, easy process of making pancakes into a process that requires time, energy, focus, & friends to help. On that note, I want to talk this week about recipes and stories that touch on nourishment and reciprocity with the land.
What to Know:
The irony that the people spending days backpacking in the woods often eat the most heavily processed foods, packaged in the most plastic is not lost on me. It makes sense, backpackers and hikers are trying to reduce their pack weight as much as possible, so carrying glass jars filled with homemade energy bars is not always plausible. This Outside article dives into the issues that are holding up the production of compostable packaging for trail-food brands. To produce plastic-free wrapping, companies have to develop new equipment which costs more, leaving the consumer with a much pricier product, and as AC Shilton writes, “Sustainable food should not just be for the rich.” Shilton also points out that food waste is a large source of emissions, and plastic keeps food edible for much longer. One small solution I can propose is to buy as many bulk foods for the trail as possible and package them yourself in reused bags (bulk is often cheaper!). But, remember, it is corporations that must be held accountable for these systemic issues.
*trigger warning: brief mention of diets*
This article explains why many Black Americans feel alienated from ‘healthy’ eating. Historically, organic, ‘healthy’ foods have been inaccessible for Black people as they are often priced higher and are sold only in upper-class areas. Research shows that due to this inequity, Black Americans are at a much higher risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health concerns. One of the first ever Black nutritionists, Tanisha Gordon, says that because health foods have been targeted towards white people, Black communities often feel hesitant to adjust their eating habits. She says that many Black people feel that their culture is tied to their diet.
The concept of soul food emerged in the 1960s to encompass the “typical” Black, southern diet of that time. Gordon says that eating soul food became somewhat of a political statement to show whites that Black people had a strong, thriving culture. However, it’s important to understand that, of course, not all Black people eat the same way, and presuming that they do has been a tactic of oppression throughout history. Ultimately, health looks completely different from person to person.
What to Eat:
Here are a few easy recipes made with foraged foods! If you want to know more about foraging, I covered it extensively in Week 15.
Thank you for reading! Be kind to yourself this week.