Lights, camera, action! All eyes were on my knife, my stockpot, and me. I became a star, instructing and entertaining, captivating my viewers and TV studio audience with a magic spell of aroma and the anticipation of amazing tastes. Well . . . not exactly. Instead of a celebrity chef there was me; instead of a live studio audience there was a classroom of 5th grade students; and instead of a giant video machine beaming me out to the masses… there was my devout class volunteer, Mrs. Bonnie, with her pocket-sized digital camera.
But the students were locked into the experience, frantically waving hands to volunteer and exclaiming their sensory observations to neighboring students. The excitement in the room was tangible, in a bigger-than-normal kind of way. During my FoodCorps service with the Michigan Land Use Institute in Traverse City, Michigan, inspiring experiences like these became a new “normal” and turned me into someone else, for good.
I owe a tremendous gratitude to my parents for providing an essential food foundation. Night after night, they brought food to our table and placed a priority on coming together as a family to connect with one another while sharing dinner. This taught me the necessity of gathering around food in a meaningful way, especially one that slows down the pace of life, and to be fed, really fed and fully cared for by more than just calories and nutrition consumed.