We are winding our way towards opening night this week.
What started out as a conversation with my mother about our gumbo tradition many years ago, has become this little monster of a dance theater piece that has forever changed my life and how I think about food.
With this incarnation of Our Daily Bread my collaborator and director, Ellen Sebastian Chang and I engaged in daily conversations about food; about the difficulties of having a slow enough life to actually put this notion of “slow food” into practice. We continued to deepen our questions about our local and global food systems, our food traditions and the impact our society’s fast modern lifestyle is having on our environment and ourselves.
This lifestyle is troubling for us.
The fast paced, convenience driven lifestyle we have in the USA and in other parts of the earth continues to deplete the quality of our food sources and the environment; This summer saw one of the worst droughts in the midwest, devastating the nation’s corn crops and we all know the devastation that is happening in the east with these strange new and destructive weather patterns. We here in the bay area have only begun to have the appearance of normalcy in our late fall as we were enjoying 80 degree weather for multiple days only a week ago in early November.
And while many folks are still in some elated state because President Obama was re-elected, the under estimated tragedy was the defeat of Prop 37 which if passed, would have required labeling of food containing GMO ingredients in California.
Though this Proposition was not a perfect solution, it had the potential to disrupt the destructive power of corporations such as Monsanto, whose tampering of our seeds, we believe, will ultimately destroy life as we know it.
Whether one believes this or not, we have a long and uncertain road ahead of us.
And it all comes down to Air, Water and food.
In the South, black farmers talk about how you create balance in the soil by planting mixed crops. They plant the three sisters- corn, beans and squash. Squash down beans up corn steady helps us to understand the inter-dependancy of these crops The Corn is the structure which the Beans can climb (so no need for poles) while Beans provide the nitrogen for the soil as the squash grows along the ground blocking the sunlight and thus preventing weed growth and the squash leaves act as a living mulch. The Native Peoples of the Northeast were the originators of this planting. We have forgotten how to live with the Earth but instead we live off the Earth through control and over production.
If we lose the real connections of our nourishment, clean air, pure water, fresh food and relations, we have lost the essence of our humanity, our life force and our souls.
We have become accustomed to having too many choices. As performer and writer, Fe Bongolan has said, “Convenience is a cancer” and this cancer is destroying the environment that has sustained us for thousands and thousands of years.
We believe the genetically modified food industry is the biggest threat to the well being of our food system of all. It is an attempt to control the source of life itself: Our seeds. Environmental leader and thinker, Vandana Shiva refers to this tampering and control of our seeds as “Seed Slavery”.
Ellen and I believe this to be a war against the feminine principle. In virtually every culture, the earth is referred to as The Mother.
We see the inherent link of the war on women with the quest to control our food systems. Many writers and thinkers have believed that women’s oppression began with the advent of agriculture and land ownership. After the earth herself, the first place one eats is in the body of a woman (womb) and our continued assault and pillage of women, of the earth and her resources, will be our ultimate undoing.
On Sunday, November 18th, we will be exploring this topic of Mother Earth, women and food in a symposium titled, Sisters at the Table. This symposium will feature Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia, founder of Poor Magazine; Gail Myers, founder of Farms to Grow and many others. The Symposium is hosted by Ashara Ekundayo. It starts at 3-5pm and is free and open to the public.
Our Daily Bread pays homage to our Mother Earth, and though it is a celebration of our beloved food traditions passed down by our ancestors, It also hopes to be a wake up call for us to sacrifice cancerous convenience for the sake of coming into balance with our Mother.
Digest in peace.