Food is a feature in many holiday celebrations, but holidays in the Autumn frequently revolve around food–harvest festivals, rituals of giving thanks, even Halloween. The American holiday of Thanksgiving highlights food, but other holidays this time of year and moving into the winter also use food as symbol, ritual, entertainment, and sustenance.
One of the longest standing members of the Center for Food and Culture staff is Melissa Hill. Melissa has worked with the Center since its beginnings and has been irreplaceable in developing the Center’s website, its everyday operations, and its various projects. Starting as a research intern when she was an undergraduate at Bowling Green State University, Melissa been the Education Coordinator for the Center, working with designing and implementing various curriculum projects. She is well qualified for the position, not only by her degrees (two Bachlors in Education and Liberal Studies; Masters in Tourism and Education), but also by her experiences as a middle school and mother of four. She also lends her artistic eye to designing Center materials and frequently conducts public programs for the Center.
The Center for food and culture is run by volunteers and interns. Anyone interested in participating in some way can contact the Director, Dr. Lucy Long at [email protected]
Eating food together is a universal way to celebrate something. For Muslims, the Iftar meal marks the end of the daily fast during Ramadan, their holy month commemorating the first revelation of the Quran to Mohammed. Based on the lunar calendar, Ramadan involves fasting from sun-up to sundown as a way to practice self-discipline and devotion, undergo spiritual and physical cleansing, and spend time on reflection. It is also a time to celebrate generosity and to offer that generosity to others.
In a multicultural city like Toronto, that generosity is evident in the many Iftar meals being served in restaurants and homes around the city. The meal cuts across nationality, ethnicity, race, and gender with families and friends gathering to share food and hospitality.
CSA’s (community supported agriculture) are small farms that offer “shares” in their harvest. Members pay a set fee for a certain number of months and then receive a portion, usually on a weekly basis, of whatever the farm produces during that time. This way, the farmers have a guaranteed income, and customers share the risks facing all farmers–bad weather, poor growing conditions, unexpected emergencies, and natural disasters. For more information on CSAs, view the short documentary video produced by the Center (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rED52iZeaU) and the accompanying discussion guide.