The event, the Good Food Collective’s second annual celebration of its community of farmers and those who love to eat that locally grown goodness, was held at the Public Market as a joint effort with Cure, Flour City Bread, Good Luck and The Yards. There were lots of candlelit tables and good local food and drink set up inside and out. As we mingled, we listened to music and enjoyed the good food and company. Upstairs in The Yards gallery, there were two photography exhibits -- one that chronicled the food we were eating that night and one that featured the farmers who grew that food all gussied up. Brilliant, I tell you. How many people on a regular basis think about where their food comes from? When they are shopping the aisles of the supermarket, do they think of the farmer who grew those carrots? Better yet, do they think about what happened to that cow before they picked up those neatly packaged and trimmed steaks?
Clarke Condé's Farm to Fork project chronicled the food that we ate that evening. (If Clarke’s name sounds familiar, we featured his Work In Rochester project last year.) One story followed the pig that provided the meat for the evening. The first picture is of the pig alive and well; the last, the delicious cabbage sausage dish they served us. Similarly, he chronicled the most beautiful cauliflower I have ever seen. It wasn’t a statement on meateaters versus vegetarians. It was meant to make us think about and appreciate the farmers, our soil and the plants and animals that give us nourishment.
The second exhibit was by photographer, Lisa Barker. Her Fancy Farmers project featured the local farmers all dressed up and went "beyond the typical ‘farmer portrait’ to capture the farming crew as the sophisticated, polished, and professional individuals that they are." These very people brought us the food we were eating. And they worked damn hard to bring it to us. They aren’t working on some big factory across the country. They have their hands in the dirt, they love what they do and they are part of my community. THOSE are the kinds of people I want in charge of my food, I tell you. And as a side note, we have some beautiful farmers around these parts.
(Lisa's photos above: Jamie, Chelsea, & Jeremiah, Squash Blossom Farm; below: Trystan & Max, First Light Farm and Creamery)
When you know your food and who grew it and nurtured it, you have a profound respect for it. You don’t waste it. And when you support those who grow it in your area, you are supporting your community and a food system that makes for a more sustainable, accountable and delicious community. I'm not saying we should all buy 100% local and make our own cheese. That's not practical. We all work and raise kids and -- lord knows -- I have no idea how to make cheese. But there are small choices we make everyday that can make huge differences for our health and the health of our communities. Knowing your food is part of that.
We are what we eat. True. And we are what we eat because it defines more than just who we are individually. It defines who we are as a community.