How to Love the Environment through… Food!

 I have a friend in Brazil, Luana Damasceno, who is frequently posting on Facebook photos of the vegetables she cultivates in her backyard. I must confess that I didn’t understand very well the passion she has by her little vegetables. Chatham University hosted on May 4th the second edition of “Food in Our Neighborhoods”, where I had the opportunity to talk to organic products’ farmers, the public of the event and its organization.

Then I understood that we need to reestablish our connections to the environment as our source of life and as the place we need to love, because it gives us something back. I saw this love in Linda Croskeys’ eyes, for example, when she was talking to me about her homemade jelly’s production. Linda owns ‘The Purple Spoon’, a business that has been in activity for five years. Actually, she began producing her jellies thirty years ago, and she used to give them as Christmas’ gifts.

Berries were the first ingredients that she used to produce her jelly, her family loved it and she continued producing and learning other flavors. A fellow of her church encouraged her to begin her own business and, now, here she is. “I love the dandelions. It’s probably one of my favorite flowers and flavors to make”, she said. She also said that loves being in the nature, and that there are products that we don’t realize how important they are and what we can do with them. “Do you want to pass your work to the next generations of your family?” I asked. “I would like to pass it on, I need to find probably a grandchild interested in!”. And businesses that began within families were found easily in the event. Jennifer Daurora, from the McGinnis Sisters Grocery Store, said that her grandparent started the company in 1946, “so my family has been supporting the local farms and the local producers for over 65 years!”.

According to Gretchen Sneegas, one of the organizers of the event, the second edition of “Food in our Neighborhoods” put together 34 venders and 12 workshops and demonstrations, plus over twenty people that helped to contact the venders and to clean and prepare the space for the event. “We want to connect people in Pittsburgh with their communities through food. So we are trying to foster sustainable community development around the theme of food, which is an important way to get people connected to each other and to other communities”.

Kim Kelly, from Philadelphia, was one of these people searching for a connection with Pittsburgh’s organic farming and products. She is planning to move back to Pittsburgh and, before she does it, she wanted to know how to get into sustainability in the city through healthy eating, consuming locally produced and fresh food. The second edition of “Food in Our Neighborhood” brought some small and successful examples of ways to construct a strong and healthy relationship with the environment through food.  Some of these sustainable practices can begin in our backyards, suddenly taking over the world and turning into a big motivation for us to make Earth our dearest friend.

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