How to save the world with food!
Updated: Feb 22
Sitopia: How to Live Well on a Hungry Planet is a book by Carolyn Steel about how food can not only help to save the world but also bring everyone together and then save the world!
In a nut-shell, we and the environment are paying the price of cheap food, due to rapid urbanisation, in terms of pollution, climate change and etc. We are quickly losing our roots and connection to food that compounds in effects over time. A big mistake that we have made is that we have stopped adapting to the environment but instead forced the environment to adapt to us through technology which has threw off the balance and harmony with nature and the environment.
A community, built around food, that respects the environment helps to build safety, belonging, and relationships with one another!
Placing food in the central point of our lives
Embracing of gathering communities around food can help people find a "clear sense of purpose and belonging”. This can happen on three fronts:
Firstly, we live in an increasingly digitalised world in which we are losing our physical touch and connection with one another in this world. By embracing the power of working with food with our hands (and together in a community), we might just be able to reclaim a sense of self and purpose!
"Today, with robots doing much of our work and algorithms anticipating our every desire, we have little physical reality left with which to interact... Working with food is the perfect antidote to living in our virtual, dematerliased world... Food is something we can make, that brings us together and grounds us. Growing, cooking and preserving food are all manual skills we can get really good at, earning us plenty of friends in the process. Food, in short, is something through which we can root ourselves in the world, both socially and physically".
Secondly, the Greeks used to gather in marketplaces to socialise and bond which created a lively community. Such common places are missing in an increasingly urbanised and compartmentalised world where access to food is through clean groceries chains with little social interaction or worse, through a delivery app*.
*Just leave it at my doorstep please
"For centuries, markets have been the backdrop against which all of public life has played out... from their everyday role as places where people came to buy food and swap news. Above all, markets were spaces of sharing and encounter, where the inner workings of the city became visible."
Thirdly, by getting in touch with food and the environment, we are able to share produce with friends that emulate the safety and happiness that our communal ancestors felt when they had a direct connection to food in their lives.
This new outlet opens us up to spontaneous gatherings that are diminishing in frequencies as more walls are erected around us and depriving us from flourishing as a community.
"Maslow acknowledged the crucial role of society in satisfying such necessities: ‘The needs for safety, belongingness, love relations and for respect can be satisfied only by other people, i.e. only from outside the person. This means considerable dependence on the environment.’"
Fair warning: the book is a tad bit too dense (ok its very dense). Like how one of the reviewers has mentioned, it was like "trying to eat the chocolate cake in Matilda: just too rich and in too great a volume" but I can never say no to finishing a book that helps me find insight into how to live the "good life".
Its crazy how I always lament that I seem to surround my life around food. All I do is watch Food Network and daydream about what to cook every Friday for my parents. I ponder if there's a life outside of food which is why I turned to books... only to read more about food. Good rhymes with food so I'll take what I can get.
"For the Greeks, flourishing was all about active engagement with the world, not escaping from it"