top of page
  • amykrause4

From The Field to the Table: A Thanksgiving Reflection by Amy

This post originally appeared on my blog

With Thanksgiving approaching, my conversations with my mom and sister are monopolized with holiday prep: who is making what, how many desserts do we need, which ones, counting and recounting our guests as we rearrange furniture in our heads playing with which table configuration works best this year. These conversations are predictable, they play out the same year to year. They begin a series of food conversations and rituals that I am sure are being had in many homes like ours. But this year I couldn’t help thinking about homes and families that aren’t like ours. Where food is neither plentiful nor a priority.

gourds and pumpkins

I have been thinking about this more and more since participating in a weekend of events surrounding the culmination of From the Field to the Table: An Urban Bush Women Leadership Institute Project, which Sophie had been accepted to and participating in for 5 weeks. It was my kind of weekend and what UC Berkeley does best — education, examination and enlightenment through artistic and creative expression. And the subject was food, something I know a bit about and have more than a few opinions on. The weekend fulfilled on every level, leaving me, like any good meal, satiated, satisfied and inspired me to take the offerings and share them with those I love.

From the Field to the Table: An Urban Bush Women Leadership Institute Project

We saw all three performances of the theater piece comprised of dance, film, music, spoken word and commentary surrounding many aspects of and issues concerning our relationship with food. Holding true to the UC Berkeley mission, there were political themes which I happen to agree with, such as: Big Pharma and industrialized farming contaminating and changing the food we eat forever – without our consent, and in many ways without our knowledge and with consequences that we are just beginning to understand. All under the pretense of feeding the world, while more people go hungry and many others suffer from obesity and diabetes in record numbers from consuming empty inexpensive subsidized calories as a result of misguided and heavily lobbied government practices. These acts had me writhing and vocalizing in empathy and despair in my seat.

But it was the personal stories that really moved me and that I can’t stop thinking about. In one piece, Ran Mochizuki, a Japanese student describes her experience of  “the table.” The table in the back of the restaurant where she is seated when she goes out to eat with her extended non English speaking family, never the table in the front with the view. And the beautiful story told in spoken

word, dance and film of a mother’s Peruvian food preparing ritual. During the telling of the story we learn why the food of their native country is so important, and how the young woman telling the story, Rosa Lisbeth Navarrete, as a child, walked with her mother from Central America through Mexico to make a better life in the United States. Knocked on people’s doors asking for food and shelter as a toddler and is now a young adult attending UC Berkeley!

I usually leave experiences like this one more than a little self conscious of my midwestern, middle class, my daughters might even say bougie background, and this time was no exception. But this time that feeling was tempered with a little bit of pride and a lot of gratitude. Pride that I am an educated consumer of food and so are my children and anyone in my family who listens to my rants or forwarded emails. Grateful that I had the exposure, the interest, the time and the financial resources to be an early and outspoken boycotter of high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. Grateful that no one in my family ever went hungry. Grateful that I grew up in a home where our food came from a butcher, a fruit market and a bakery. Grateful that our family’s food stories are funny and not painful. Grateful that this Thanksgiving like Thanksgivings in the past our table will be filled with specially prepared delicious food. But more importantly than that, it will be surround by people I love and who love me.

Love is the most important ingredient of any meal, whether it is in the preparation or in the participants sharing the experience. And that is what I would tell Ran if I could. The best view at any table is the people you are seated with. Happy Thanksgiving. Savor your meal, bask in the love and enjoy the view.

Rosa Moreno and Rosa Navarrete


bottom of page