Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wrapping things up back in Bar Harbor

sA couple of days ago I was on the phone with a really good friend of mine from home. This was the first time we’d gotten to talk after I returned from Our Daily Bread, and she was asking me about my trip. She asked me what was the coolest thing I learned, and it struck me that I did not  yet know! This got me thinking how is it that I don’t even know what the most interesting things from the course were for me? I decided that because of the massive amount of knowledge that we all gained on this course in a short period of time I have not had the chance to sift through and process all of it for myself yet. This is a process that always takes a long time for me, no matter what the subject, context, etc. So, I decided that I could speed up the process by brainstorming about all the interesting things that I learned in the course. What were the coolest things that I learned?

~I learned that its ok to do things your not supposed to do because someone high up there in the government doesn’t like it as long as you know why you are doing it, why its important to you and to society, and as long as you can prove that it is the right thing to do and that person up there in the government maybe just can’t see why.

~ I learned that in countless examples industrial food processors making all kinds of “food” will sacrifice our right as humans to health in the name of profit.

~ I learned that inspired individuals who aren’t afraid to stand up against the status quo are empowered to make a difference in their lives and the world around them

These are really just a couple of the things that I took away from this course. It was an amazing learning experience and I know that the things I learned will continue to serve me and be inspiring.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

When the Origin of Bread Meets the Dumpster

Finding bread in the city is like finding produce in the city, it is possible but questions of origin arise.
Here in Amsterdam now, Jake, Heather, and I have been surviving on bread and falafel. When camping out as we had been doing for the majority of the week, bread became an essential. It is easy to undermine the sacredness of bread, as here the need for bread demotes it down to somewhat of a commodity. We eat it daily. Is it realistic to know all the answers of origin in the supply chain- field to mouth- when we eat as traveling students do? We aren't about to turn down food because it wasn't grown around the corner. Here we have an exception to our ethics we built up over our month long course.
This past Monday through biking through the city of canals, we took shelter under a willow tree in the park. We broke bread and ate carrots with another fellow by the name of Daniel, a young mexican musician with such beautiful dreds, perhaps even up there with Tracy Chapman's. After mixing the sounds of his latin guitar with Jake's Ukulele, he toured us around the city some on our bikes. Thankful to be with a local to help us navigate the bustling bike lanes, we accompanied him to a bakery where he picks up the bread that would be thrown away at the end of the day and distributes it to friends living in the city. This happens at most bakeries, all around the world- perfectly good bread that didn't sell is thrown away after one day. In this form of dumpstering one faces the baker or the bread seller directly- hand to hand. Taking this bread, not paying for the production, do we have the right to question origin? Is it enough to help in the chain by recycling this bread one more time before it ends up in a sewage waste system? We didn't ask questions, we feasted.
Even if we have momentarily lost some of our self proclaimed bread conosiour stati over the last week, however, we still remain incredibly- if not more- grateful to the sustainance bread brings. Looking into Daniel's trash bag of treasures the other day was like beholding thousands of tiny suns in the form of rolls, croissants, and loaves. Some had seeds, others just loads of butter, some with thick crusts, browned to perfection. Sometimes we sacrifice part of our values, but we will never sacrifice the gratitutde we have towards a good meal. Sharing bread with strangers and friends alike extends beyond the wheat growing methods and baking process.
The spirit of the bread lives on!