So, this post was suggested to me by my partner, Nicole, who has listened to me lament about this topic for a few weeks now.
Before Nicole and I started our respective jobs, we lived together in an apartment in Halifax. Now, she’s in the Annapolis Valley, and I’m 2 1/2 hours away on the Northumberland Shore. She’s in a house with two other room mates in town, and I’m baching it on my own in the country. And the first thing I’ve noticed that’s really changed since moving back out on my own has been my cooking and eating habits.
I was recently at a dinner party with some senior women from my congregation where I realized that, in terms of living arrangements, I have a lot in common with these women. They’d asked me how I was settling into my new place, and I told them “I really love my new house, but it’s kind of strange living alone. It’s hard getting used to cooking for one.” Almost all the women around the table nodded–all but one of them are widows, and all but one of them live on their own.
How do we do it? How do we eat healthy and still shop economically? Because, let’s face it, I believe eating local is important, but food is expensive, and supporting fairly sourced food can be expensive, and eating for one is not cheap! I’ve found that my grocery bills are no less expensive than when I was living with Nicole–it takes the same amount of food to cook for one as it did to cook for two, practically, and so I find I’m paying like I’m eating for two.
Maybe this means cooking more meals ahead of time, portioning them out and freezing them for later, or maybe it means getting people together for a supper club of sorts? (There is a local “Supper Club” in Tatamagouche that runs from September-June, so I’m hoping to connect with that group in the fall, and maybe do a blog posting about it…) But it also begs the question of how food and community are connected–I find I’m more likely to pay attention to the food I’m eating when there are other people there with me to share the meal with. I also find I’m more likely to feel gratitude for my food, and not just wolf it down while reading or watching TV or thinking about work.
At the heart of this, I think, is the belief that food is meant to be shared–food is essential to human survival, and so is community. And so, as I work in my own ministry and in my whole life to promote community development, compassion, social justice, and faithful living, that also means that food and food-sharing is a part of this call. How can I share my meals with others? How can I share my life? How can we share our lives together? And how can we as a community work towards fairly sourced food to be available for people of all income brackets–not just those who have the money to “vote with their fork”?