by Stelle Slootmaker, OKT communications officer
In Grand Rapids, Our Kitchen Table is gearing up for the growing season with a new series that brings community together around the dinner table for healthy food and political education. Launched on Friday March 23, the first “Cook, Eat and Talk” attracted more than 50 neighborhood folks.
Middle Eastern chef and director of TigerLilly Arabic Academy, “Mama” Wafa Haddad, prepared Mediterranean dishes with the crowd that featured herbs that OKT gardeners will grow this summer: chives, thyme, mint, basil, sage and parsley.
Haddad’s hands-on approach had the men and women in attendance taking part in the preparation of each dish. The recipes are posted on the OKT website under “Resources.” During preparation, Haddad shared the health benefits of foods used in the easy to make dishes. In less than an hour, the group was all enjoying a nutritious feast.
Why Cook, Eat & Talk?
Our Kitchen Table, a grass roots environmental justice (EJ) organization, addresses issues such as air pollution, lead poisoning, infant mortality, asthma, obesity, food insecurity and the institutional racism that is at the root of all of these issues. The group approaches the work by working with community through popular education and addressing policy at the local, state and national level. These political issues are not easy to address within community—especially when relationships are just beginning to bud.
However, introduce food, fun and conversation across the dinner table and people go home with more information than they would ever digest from a PowerPoint lecture. Community has traditionally come together at the table. Cooking healthy food together not only provides opportunity to learn about healthier lifestyle choices, it also creates a climate where issues of injustice can be discussed and addressed.
OKT hosted a second Cook Eat and Talk on April 13. The third will take place May 5 at Sherman Street Church in Grand Rapids. If you happen to be on our side of the state, please join us. Check our website for other upcoming events, including our “Plant, Eat and Talk” series which kicks off in June at one of our demonstration gardens.