The new year upon us is inspiring. Even my friends who scoff at the traditional making of resolutions have succombed to setting brand, spanking new goals for themselves. 2014 was not bad but certainly educational and by that I mean that it was really tough.
What was so tough? Managing finances for Food is love, Love is food. In all of my years starting up craft businesses, I have observed my enthusiasm peter out after production becomes the task. Production seems to snuff my fire. I wanted to avoid that because this food project is too important to me.
True confession: Food is love, Love is food, isn’t the only thing I’m doing with my life. My main source of income is my house cleaning service. Though I no longer produce clothing in production numbers, I am still a working textile artist. Food is love, Love is food is unique, however, in that it is the least cost effective entrepreneurship I’ve ever taken on. My 15+ years in the food service industry gave me that knowledge before going in, however, one doesn’t really know something until they’ve been right in the thick of it. This struggle has inspired me to continue exploring our culture’s relationship with money and with food. I see parallels between ecology and economy and I see horrendous misperceptions that have been embedded in our psyche for centuries.
My dream is to map out these relationships in something of a master’s thesis. I think the world needs help understanding the impact it has with our diets, the relationship between money and metabolically expensive foods, the power and implications of localized economy, and how to still enjoy eating what we bring home at the end of the day. I guess, I’m projecting here and perhaps I should insert “I” and “my” in place of “our” and “we”.
A less ominous resolution, I’ve made, is to hone in on the language I use to describe what I do. Potential customers have been turned off just by hearing the words ‘vegan’ and ‘gluten free’. A friend of mine, who has a specialty bakery, deals with this frequently, “you’re just going to have to deal with that if you specialize in a type of food. You can work it!” If you are hip to food ways, you probably know that ‘vegan’ doesn’t at all mean anything except that it describes food made without animal products. Not all began foods reflect the same regiment and philosophy, or politics (I find that veganism is a very politically charged food way). I am not vegan, myself.
I choose to make vegan and gluten free food for resale because:
a.) it is less expensive to make wholesome foods from quality, organic, locally sourced ingredients that are not, directly, taken from animals.
b.) I am sensitive to gluten and understand how difficult it is to find lunch food that is as satisfying as a sandwich.
c.) this type of food typically doesn’t cause one to ‘crash’ in the middle of the day like heavy, cheesy, animal-based, gluten-based foods do.
So what to do, new year?
Here’s what I think I’ll try to do: represent myself as a multitasking artist instead of just a food artist, at times, and just a house cleaner, at other times, continue to inspire tastebuds with mind-blowing recipes that defy the conventional attitude toward plant-based foods, and focus on appealing to certain communities to build my clientele (instead of trying to force my food into a mold that appeals to a broader audience).
Business is complex and has opened my eyes to the larger picture of capitalism. It’s a game and it’s also a machine we depend on for survival as we know it. I look forward to the lessons 2015 has in store for me, for you, and for food.