not a pretty girl

a new person with each new experience

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

In the introduction to a section called The Revolutionary Kitchen in alter magazine it the author sazs "Nothing urks me more than so-called activists who refuse to see the important link between food choice and politics." And I start on the importance fo food rant . . . well, food has always been important in understanding a culture it is important now as it has ever been. Those who study certain aspects of women studies or anthropology will tell you that food will tell you volumes about the society or culture you are looking at. The type of food eaten, the methods of preperation, the divsion of labour with food and so on will tell you about the economics of the society, the relationship with the land and animals, the gender roles, the level of equaliatianism and so on. People who work with the poor, homeless, refuggees, and so on can tell you the importance of food security. The UN defines food security as the availalitiy of safe, nutirious, culturally appropriate foods. There are so many people living without food security. And it is not surprising that these people are victums of the capitalist society. In the food banks of Toronto those receiving the food that is dropped off tend ot be immigrants, often highly educated since the point system to get into the country demands it, yet they suffer racism and there knowledge is not respected therefore are living in a country, attempted to support their familes on with very little support. Then the arrive humbly at the food bank and the food they receive is non nurtirious, and definatly not cutlurally specific. All the "generous" people who provide the food, do not think of the people needing the food, all they do is look in there cubbords a few times a year at christmass and easter usually and take out canned food and kraft dinner. Ummm not that helpful after all. Then you get "socially concsious" organizations that provide mass quanities of food to the food bank. their "good deed" usually is a product that was labled in correctly and often is a suger treat or something unhealthy. And leaving the ideas of nutrition and cultural appropriate out of the equation.

Then we can look at the city government in Toronto who suggest that the people who are not able to survive on the minimal welfare that they recieve go to grocery stores and buy the dented cans. I suppose safety is not an issue for them either.

We can also look at the refugee camps in ireland and note that although the majority of the residence are from Africa, they rarely are given african food, also they are given light foods such as salads when they are culturally use to heavy foods. Both of these reasons cause them to spend much of their 18 euro a week on more food to feed their families.

Food security is just one aspect of the scope of inquiry one can have on food and food consumption in this day and age. This article on The revolutionary kitchen although talks mainly about healthy foods and eating at home it has a very vegan edge to it. The author doe snot lecture on eating vegan yet says things like "invite your crew over for a barbeque, and toast vegan marshmellows." t you get more for the article coems again from the introduction when theauthor says: "taking a cue from billy bragg, I think we nned to 'start our own revolutions and cut out the middleman' by drawing our money away from the sleazy restaurant industry an dinvesting it in ourselves!" The author goes on to say that this makes eating the truely revolutinary act that it is.

We know from history that the food has been used against us. Wether this is in the french revolution or all the "famines" in korea, ireland and so on that have to do with distribution not availability. If the distribution of food has been used as a weapon to stop the energies of revolutionaries, we have to ensure that our revolution is done taking food and food choice into consideration.

james has complainied about the restaurant industry in teh way that it makes him uncomfrotable having someone serve him and that person often deciding when you are done. We can all relate to this expereince and often I find places that have a buffet much more comfortable, you decide how much food, what food and when you want it. but there are more problems with the restuarnat industry then the service. There is the exploiting costs and the conection to the animal killing industry.

Somepeople decide then veggie restuarants are the way to go, unfortuantly rarely do these restaurant act in completely ethical ways. more often then not, these restuarants choice to exploit the very people who are attempting to do less harm in this world by not eating meat. The restuarnt industy depends on the trendyness of veggitarianism just as the health food stores do for vegans and those interested in nutrition. I am not saying that it is wrong to eat out at restaurants, in my previous post I talked about the paradise of teh vegan restuarnt in in austria. But I am questioning the amount of food eaten out, where it is eaten, the nutrition of this food vs the ability to cook healthy food at home and so on.

So the question on what we eat, where we eat it, how it is prepared and so on is essential to understanding our own culture and being revolutionary within in. the last line of The revolutionary kitchen is "The revolution cannot be fought on an empty stomach, COOK and DESTROY!"

Monday, June 07, 2004

vegan paradise!

I have two strong and lasting impressions of vienna and budapest. The first is this feeling that I have been transported to europe during the war times and the second is that I am living in a vegan paradise. While we were in Budapest for the weekend I was constatnly reminding myself that I was living in the present and not a virual reality trip to war time europe. The girls I was with did't feel this way since they have seen places like this there whole lives, but the only time I have seen apartments, balconies, adn buildings like these are in the movies. the apartment we stayed in had the most romantic courtyard. The ceilings were 15 feet high and the doors were in perportion to the ceilings so perhaps 10 feet. I could not believe the beauty and all the old buildings. We do not have that history in toronto. And Dublin does not have the same european feel. I think it is an eastern european thing. I have not studies aritecture or history so I don't have an educated analysis of these cities expect to say that they are facinatingly beautiful.

When I first arrived in vienna I wasn't sure if I liked it at all, the grand buildings seemed so dark and impersonal. And the gold that is used to decoratic them seemed goddy. I still am not a fan of the gold, but that is my perpective off all gold that is used in artitecture. The same way I was not impressed with the buildings in London, buckingham palace and so on. But the reason I did not connect with the city at first was the lack of people and energy. The first few days were rainy. In dublin the people just deal with the rain and still live, but here I think the people expect good weather adn when it does not come they hide. Today cristain and I wandered the city, it was a beautiful day and the city came allive. The buildings were no longer haunting. they seemed to blend with the people who seemed possiby over concerned with fashion or image. The energy of the people was wonderful. Plus the people who live in these old gorgous buildings with great balconies must love them since they are all filled with lovely flowers adding to the charm. I was thinking how the city itself must help you feel better with you are down. I think it is really important to live in a place you find beautiful so when you need a break you can go on a walk and take in the beauty.

The other impression that Iwill not get over is the vegan food. Today cristain and I went to this shop were you can get every kind of fake meet you can imagine. Then we went to an bio grocery store then an africian store and both had more and more vegan treats plus there is a restaurant where you can get vegan ice cream on a cone to go. The best was yesterday when I went with 4 women to this vegan restaurant in the austrain county side. They have so much food, traditional austrain food and international food- all vegan. plus it is not too expensive, I got an apertizer, a main course, a dessert and a cocktail and it only came to 13 euro. Not only that, my appitizer was called frisbee, it had a mix of food on it, but it actually came on a frisbee!! So now I have a frisbee with the pic and name of restaurant on it. Ok it even gets better, this restuarant is my dream restaurant. On the menu is a list of games, you can ask for a game and play it for hours. We stayed at this place for 5 hours, eating, laughing, talking and playing uno. The owner was wearing a PETA tshirt, I'm sure this is a dream place for him to own, no animal products at all, tons of great food, a fun relaxed atmophere where people come from miles around.

If only I spoke german, then one would think about staying here. It has the beauty of paris but the community sence of dublin and the vegan experience of well vegan heaven. The problem is the politics I suppose, marike says taht our type of politics is not generally accepted here. I find from swapping stories from people that for someone who wants to live in europe and stay far away from the states that UCD is a wonderful place to be. But as the chapter in Kathleens book, resistance in education about how they developed the equality studies program. And the story that the people at the judith halberstam talk gave about starting the queer theory semiar series. What it takes to make something this progressive to start, you just need a few like minded determined people.

The queer theory seminar series was started by to postgrad students, one in histoy and the other in english who loved queer theory, who were alone or so they thought in this love. The started asking peopel to come and talk at UCD basically so they could hear them, from this iniciative they were able to ask for money proving that they have already made it happen. They got money and now are able to have theorist like judith butler come and talk. great!!

I was talking to the director of the women education and research centre at UCD before leaving about the workshop I want to do in Amsterdam. She totally agreed with me about the responsibility of programs such as equality studies and womens studies to give back to the movement and to provide an education basis that would allow for praxis. She said that is what they are trying to do. She echoed kathleen lynch's concerns with trying to create a non hierichal environment in an innatly hiericahl institution. And she echoed her in talking about the difficulties of creating an activist circulum within an institution which is built on the old boys club.

I do take her concerns seriously, yet from what I have seen people have been able to create the space for progressive thoritical thinking. And I have seen to an extent the space provided for action to come from this thinking. With the energy and dedication these people have provided to create the theoretical space I'm sure that they and others can help create this in to a more active space for radical changes not just thinking.

Ok thats it for now, back to reading a brave new world . . .