Where are food communities and should there be more of them?

September 22, 2019

It’s kind of ironic that here in the Philadelphia suburbs where I live there are so many grocery stores, (too many), but yet we still have a huge hunger problem in Philly and around the suburbs.  Granted, I know there are some 8 million people in the Philly area, but it just strikes me that there needs to be a food community.  Now I’m not sure what I mean by that; maybe trading one food for another at designated places or something.

My Mom’s side of the family has a family cottage in Michigan that we go to once a year or so (if you look at Michigan as a hand/glove, it’s the little pinky where we live, Leelanau Peninsula.  It’s a summer place to live and so even though it can be kind of crazy with tourism and being there for a couple of weeks or so (I don’t think I could live there), I just love the food “community” there.  I mean I don’t know a lot of people there, but it just feels like you’re connected to the land.  If you drive down the backroads, you’ll always find a sign saying eggs, cherries (what the peninsula is known for), or peaches for sale.  And I kind of like the farmer’s market there better because it just seems like the produce really is grown right near by!  Our farmer’s market here is in Lansdale is very popular, but it just doesn’t seem like a truly local farmer’s market if you know what I’m saying.

I’ve done my share of non fiction reading about food, and some things I’ve read that have stuck out, is that food is supposed to be the main part of your day, so shouldn’t community revolve around that?  I read pretty often that community is really lacking in the USA, but with all the food books, shows, farmer’s markets, etc… it seems like we should use what we have to create a real vibrant food community!

I just think when I’m in Michigan, even though I don’t become an outright farmer, I’m so much more aware of the land and nature, and so grateful for the little food stands, and the real local food around there, like fish from Lake Michigan, cheese, produce, meat, etc…  that I suddenly feel like cooking local foods and being connected to what’s around me.  As Mario Batali said of the Leelanau Peninsula several years ago (he has a house there), one thing about Leelanau Peninsula and the food is they don’t pretend to be something they’re not.  They know who they are, food wise, and excel in that area.

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