Hello Roots Radicals Community!
Welcome to the second month of this space-blog, it has been a nurturing experience writing from/on/between the roots of the food we share. Each weekly-post was -and continues to be- an empathy exercise, experimenting through the online platform as well as hosting you in our IGTV channel “Rooted lives” in order to connect us back to good food. Our February table setting will change a bit, now delivering two posts in the month and keeping our weekly-based interaction over the IG, with live-talks every two Fridays. In this way, we would focus on connecting with members of this radical community and together reflect on the topic of the month: Food Literacy -which begins with knowing your food, and through it relating to others (natural systems, people, economies, etc).
At the core of a sustainable Food System is an informed, conscious and caring community. At Roots Radicals, we thrive each week to strengthen this core, and as much as we share our perspective, we also share values with you, dear community, and would like to understand the ways you are reconnecting to good food. In this sense, Food literacy runs deeper than food knowledge, it becomes the nurturing compost for the radical roots of change. As compost is different according to the weather, soil, and botanic-species, it’s important to understand food literacy through a variety of resources, ways/mediums, and communities. Therefore, last week for the Rooted Lives #4 we invited Rebeca Perez Geronimo, for a conversation on her publishing and fermenting dual practice, as a take on Food Literacy from the Berlin Latin-diaspora.
Rebeca is from Caracas and her heart gets lost in books of all types, but especially those about Cooking and Botanics. As a complement to her passion -or as she puts it, her obsession- on woman literature and editorial work, she cherishes her diasporic food culture and has dedicated the last few years to create a community of Spanish-speaking female writers across Europe. “Concordia is the intertwine of worlds, food knowledge, and voices that are very important to me”, comments Beca to explain the core of this project. She took upon growing the writing seed planted by Samanta Schweblin -another amazing Latin American writer in Berlin- and developed it into a rooted and creative community.
Concordia takes as a point of departure Rebeca’s love for the slow and careful cooking process of fermentation -something that we talked about with Monica Kisic in our second post. “The editing and writing processes of the texts emulate a fermentation experiment because it makes use of time, intuition, and community work.” This food-literacy community is like the bubbles in sourdough or a preserve: an agglomeration of particles that generates a living organism and added value. Through the writing/cooking workshops she aims to bridge fiction literature to the -often lost- knowledge around fermentation and herbs.
“Now that you introduce me to the term of food-literacy I realized why I have chosen fermentation as my writing formula. Because it allows me to introduce a pause in the production time of something, and in this way reinforces concepts of observation, curiosity, and finding-new-worlds. My work with writers is also a slow process (around three months), in which I introduce a creative exercise around a herb, and the path of (re)discovering this knowledge as the point of departure of a fiction piece takes time. Conceptually, fermentation, like a cooking and writing process gives me this space with the writers and the public- which is also part of the politics of publishing. I don’t wish to reinforce this fast production of printed books, instead, I gather around a table with food and a few printed examples of publications and get to know the public”.
Concordia Edition #1: Borraja, 2020. Workshop
The publication of a powerful message, although it gathers people temporarily -or used to do it physically before the lockdown- could leave a timeless impact on a community. Especially if this message links to an everyday activity, it could motivate us to shift into more sustainable habits or reconnect us to our natural context. These creative experiences around food cultural knowledge, generate new perspectives and allow us to explore alternative “ways of being and acting” which is another way-of exercising food literacy -informed consumption choices that generate enduring value.
Over the years and across the globe, the more our urban eating practices depart from the agricultural origin of our food (as mentioned in the previous post), the more we let go of knowledge, like for example the holistic power of herbs. Upon this point, Concordia fiction writing exercises take on botanical and mythological characteristics of herbs such as borraja, calendula or verbena, as guidelines for storytelling or character creation. To fully embed in this writing process, Rebeca introduces us to a beautiful concept:
“I talk about peaceful resistance, which is the ability to insert pauses in processes. This resistance could be applied in the hyperproduction of the publishing world as well as the fast-paced consumption of our food systems. I try to give myself time to assimilate, to explore in the middle of all of this -and it is also the aim of the project [Concordia] while opening up spaces to experiment and empower woman writers.”
Concordia Edition #1: Borraja, 2020. Book presentation dinner
From Roots Radicals, we found so much value in this concept of “peaceful resistance”, which powerfully sums up what Food literacy is all about, and why is such a crucial “lingo” for a radical and steady change towards Sustainable Food Systems. This last one has been for too long strange to most of us because the scientific and theoretical language is rather distant from our everyday relationship with food -even I find myself sometimes lost in this conundrum. When we open up spaces of discussion of such abstract concepts we become aware of our role, the way we talk and share -both food and knowledge- inside our communities are as crucial as the vital spaces and activities that we share. Concordia writes with the heart and the stomach, from the kitchens, tables, and libraries of this project’s members. “More than a book, each publication leads to an ephemeral practice that leaves a ‘huella’ (footprint) in the community, as it reinforces conscious actions”, comments Rebeca and we couldn’t agree more.
Till we gather next time, I would like to invite you to go into your kitchen and look into your herbs and spices shelf/cupboard – even if you just have a few, pick one. Get curious, and explore around its diverse value: where does it come from? Is it regional or has traveled long distances to arrive on your shelf? how do other cultures use this herb/spice? does it has a medicinal power that you didn’t know about? Let me know your findings in the comments below. Although our bodies are currently apart, and our tables distant, our food-knowledges -and stomachs- have the power to interconnect us.