The International Food Blogger Conference is off to a great start. We got a huge bag of cookery “swag” that includes everything from a smiley faced spatula, pansy shaped cupcake tins, a corn on the cob peeler, to cookbooks, juicers, and a coffee press. It was like Christmas! So much for traveling light.
The food vendors here were excellent and tasty but the conversations with the other bloggers were the highlight of the evening for me.
I met Fr. Leo Patalinghug (Father Leo) who has started a movement called Grace Before Meals. His goal is to get people to sit down together and remember what it means to share a meal in order to build strong friendships and communities. He wants all faiths to do this, together, as a discipline. A discipleship at the table, if you will.
I wasted no time in asking him his thoughts on what did Jesus mean when he said: “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” Matt:6:25
Father Leo said that people are afraid of food, what they will eat, how they will eat. He feels that Jesus’ message was one of reassurance, “God loves us and will provide for us, and will feed our body and soul,” he says. Essentially, Father Leo wants us to lose the fear of food and rediscover the joys of communion and community around the table. “Food is going to be healthy if it is eaten within a sense of community,” he says. Amen to that!
Another highlight of the evening was listening to a Q&A with Morgan Spurlock, of “Super Size Me” fame. (The documentary filmmaker ate only at McDonald’s for one month and recorded the effects. It wasn’t pretty.)
Essentially, Morgan challenged all the bloggers in the room to put our words into action and host community events the raise awareness about what it means to eat well.
“You have to create real relationships beyond an online article,” he says. “You have to have events so that the blogs become action and not just words. You have to become active in what you write. You have to take your message to the street.”
He suggested hosting events that partner with local restaurants and to get local media to cover these events so that they actually have an impact on communities and the way people think about food.
A couple of bloggers in the audience are already doing this. One woman in Sacramento is working to get city council to allow gourmet food trucks within city limits. Another woman quit her day job, obtained a grant from her city, and now teaches cooking classes to low-income communities. She blogs at Dianasaurdishes.
Other ideas shared by the bloggers in the audience:
- Educate people on what good food tastes like.
- Return to the concept of eating together as a family. Get kids involved in the actual cooking process. It creates memories and connections and kids learn the pleasure of creating and giving to others.
- Create a fun local event and make it sound like a good time. Food is fun.
- Get people excited about CSAs.
- Grow your own garden, even if it is pathetic.
And this was just at the opening reception.
Tomorrow’s sessions: the art of recipe writing, building traffic, writing with all five senses, the ethics of food blogging, Theo Chocolate factory tour.