Thank you to Marnie Nave of Seapod and Brooklyn Marvin of Rose Mountain Photography for hosting one of our Rosette Mandalas, this past Friday, at their opening, for Arts Arcata.
In the center, slices of Regional Wraps were filled with a local rainbow bean medley with roasted delicata squash, and basil vinaigrette. Circling those were nori rolls with locally grown quinoa, ginger sesame broccoli, and roast parsnip red pepper sauce. SunSea salad rolled in chard leaves created the circumference. Borage blooms and calendula petals, flecked about each morsel, were a visual flavor of the passing season.
I’ve been conceptualizing a diagram to illustrate the relationship between the raw and prepared ingredients I use and a final product. Just to get something started, I designed a basic graphic, in Power Point. What percentage, in weight, does my ingredients sourcing globally represent? This is the most recent question I’ve asked myself when I think about the implications of running a food business. Sourcing local ingredients, as much as possible, makes an impact in several directions: environmentally, economically, and socially. Meeting them is meeting the triple-bottom-line. How to transition a conventional food-business model to a sustainable one is not as easy as replacing one piece in the machine. Can a practical measure of sustainability be rendered by calculating the percentage of bulk weight of ingredients from delineated regions of the world? For example, if 70% of the bulk weight of ingredients I used this month was locally sourced, 20% nationally sourced, and 10% internationally sourced, would that say anything realistic about the carbon footprint (or sustainability, in general) of this month’s menu? In the past few years of building Food is love…, I’ve discussed farming and food supply with many farmers (a lot of them with ecology degrees) and find that we talk about the weather quite a bit. With sudden unexpected, small yields, due to unfavorable conditions or pestilence, regional farmers must push other crops and mark up the best of the sparse. Can they feasibly compete with conventional wholesalers who truck, from afar, cases of inexpensive ingredients, ordered by a button on a website? On a larger scale, what does it mean to have more locally sourced, fresh ingredients in restaurants and stores during times when the unexpected happens? Could restaurants quickly change their menus, grocery stores their stock? How would their income be effected by a tomato demand following a week of fog and a cold snap, in a hypothetical future wherein most food retailers primarily sourced from their locality? Would their loss in tomato sales get redirected to support the conventional tomato market anyhow, thus looping us back into sourcing from conventional/large-scale agriculture? Reframing our food culture to respond adaptively, seems to be the responsibility of personal choice at the market both as a consumer and a purveyor.
I’m inspired by the straightforwardness of the research poster. During my undergrad, at HSU, I took a class in science writing, in which we were assigned a poster presentation like the ones you would see at a conference of research scientists. I was reminded that it was quite easy to create one of these colossal poster (it’s cute that there doesn’t seem to be a specific taxon for it other than ‘poster’) presentations on a single slide in PP. Typically, in preparing a research presentation, designing the poster is the final assignment, following the completion of the paper it summarizes. However, I learned calculus because my calculus professor insisted that drawing a picture of every problem is the bridge to understanding the mathematics. And it worked because I passed with a B, so I will will poster first, I guess. Burdened with so many topics and subtopics of importance, it is tedious to focus in on a presentation that communicates the central statement/thesis whilst being concise, informative, and precise. This is the crux of the science communication, in general. Food is love… is not a science-based anything but I rely on knowledge from scientific and science writers and science communicators for ideas on how to build an adaptive food business. Most writers and researchers I follow are ecologists, botanists, agriculturalists, economists, philosophers, sociologists, and other professionals who employ data-driven evidence in their work of studying natural systems. Manifesting the fusion of business practices and interdisciplinary research practices is one of my loftier goals. This simple graphic must do for now.