This video features excerpts from Food is Good for You: Foodways from a Cultural Perspective, a recent session of ACTA’s Roundtable Series in which we examined how food is a vestige of great cultural knowledge. We visited Urban Adamah, a sustainable farm whose agricultural principles are derived from Jewish practices. Ninety percent of the food they harvest is given away. In this setting, we explored how food is inextricably tied to ideas of cultural memory, connectedness with family and others, provides comfort, can be a pathway to health, and reflects sacredness and order.
Three featured artists/organizations shared their reflections with us. Lucumi priest Bobi Cespedes richly tells of the relationship of food preparation the sacred. Cooking traditional dishes from Southeast Asia has been a successful intervention for the young women of Banteay Srei, a social service agency that works to provide healthy alternatives for women vulnerable to the sex-trade (see Who Wants to Grate the Ginger?: Food as Intervention). Finally, we hear from transnational artist, Emiko Saraswati Susilo, who lives in Bali and in California. As an American-raised artist who is living and raising her children in two countries, her explanation of the Balinese world view of food and ritual is insightful to the practice of being conscious of how we relate to the sustenance of food.
Since 2008, our Bay Area-based Roundtable Series has been open to traditional and tradition-based artists, cultural organizers, and the general public, both to gain technical skills and to discuss issues of common interest. Our discussion and art-sharing series was modeled after the idea of La Mesa, or table. It was meant to invoke the intimacy and ease of conversation that can flow after sharing food and the good company of others.
The Roundtable Series continues in 2014. Please visit our website for updates: http://actaonline.org/content/roundtable-series.