Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Da** Fine Day and Some Love to Those Who Made it Happen

So what started as a very early and slightly rocky morning morphed into a very informative, and moving afternoon ended in a very happy me. Despite going to sleep early for a Friday night, waking up at 6am on Saturday was still less than pleasant. I left my house in a fog, forgot my breakfast foods at my house, spilled my coffee on myself, and got stuck in traffic (yeah at 6am in one of the countries smallest cities). But I managed to make it to my Alma Matter in time for registration but sans the tickets to the event (doh). The ticket problem was later remedied with little trouble. The event was the second annual Food for Thought Conference hosted by the University of Portland. It was amazing to say the least, and its going to take a good long while for me to pull all my notes and ideas together for a proper blog post or posts. But for now I'd would just like to shout out to those who made today possible for me.

Despite my bumpy am, I still got to the school at the same time as my mom, who agreed to be my date for the day. This a a woman who has her whole life and still to this is day is in better shape and healthier than I could ever hope to be. Who jazzer-sized and veggie ate her way through brining me into the world. She taught me everything I know about cooking and eating healthy. And who has in the past engaged in healthy and sustainable actives through out her life such as making her own cloths, yogurt, soap and growing veggies among many others. She eats healthier than anyone I know and could out bike me by miles due to her love of spinning classes. She is living testament that a healthy lifestyle pays off in the end, she hardly ever gets sick, she looks half her age and is well on a way to a very healthy future. I love her dearly and was so happy to get to spend the day with her learning about a common interest.

The second person on my list of thanks is an old friend whom I have always lovingly called Joey-Jo-Jo. Way back in the day when I was an extremely overwhelmed  freshman in college moving into my first dorm room, it was Joe's smiling face, a Sophmore at the time and a Freshman Welcome Wagon volunteer, who piled all my items into a shopping cart and showed me to my new home.  I'll never forgot that day, and not because it was so amazing and exciting (frankly the entire first month of college was a total blur) but because of Joe. He is one of the most genuinely kind, wonderfully upbeat, most fun people to be around. We were friend through college and spent a lot post college happy hour days drinking at one of our favorite bars that is sadly now closed. While I don't get to see Joe much these days, he was kind enough to gift me tickets to the event when I thought it was otherwise at capacity. Thank you Joe, I miss you, we need to have some serious catch up drinks. On me of course!

Third on the list is Dr. Steven Kolmes. An Environmental Science teacher, and the man largely responsible for putting the event together in the first place. I never took a class from him, but he and his wife were the directors of the study abroad program I participated in during my undergraduate years. Having spent six weeks in Austria with him I learned a lot about him and his ideas. But the he also takes the prize on the weirdest fields trip I have ever participated in. A sewage recycling facility in Salzburg Austria. Turns out it was quite interesting, smelled bad, but I learned a lot. Had the director on that trip been an art teacher or a history teacher the trip would have been very interesting. But the trip with Dr. Kolmes was eye opening. The factoids we learned were focused on how Austria has the most protected forest of any country in the world. They are one of the leaders in green energy, the lakes and rivers are clean and beautiful because of strict laws against oil and gas powered boats. We didn't go to fancy restaurants we went to farmers markets and cooked food back at the school. We spent just as much time in museums as we did on vineyards and farms and hiking through parks and forests.  He and his wife showed me an Austria not of Haspsbourgs, war and a shady genocidal past. But a country looking forward and looking out for their people. I didn't leave with an understanding of exported culture or what Austria is famous for but an idea of a community and what it is truly like to live another culture. I will forever cherish this experience, and forever thank Dr. Kolmes and his wife for teaching me what its like to not tour but live another country.

Next is Kelly Ballew. My very enigmatic and passionate biology professor, who told me about the conference in the first place. And despite the insider information she gave me on when tickets were going on sale. They still sold out before I could get to them. Not only was Kelly's biology classes arguably the most fun classes I have ever taken, she taught me more in two quarters than I previously learned in a lifetime of science classes. This is a teacher I am now friends with, who tells me about how she deals with her less than pleased neighbors everyday since the moment she tore up her very lovely grass lawn and put in not only a garden but a garden full of local edible plants (of which there are many and I am sure she could enthusiastically tell about all of them). So thank you Kelly, you expanded my world view and will forever be an inspiration to me.

Lastly we come to Michael Pollan. One of my all time favorite authors and the key note speaker of the event. Not only is he a very prolific author and journalist, he is a huge influence on the real food movement, whip smart and a very nice individual.  He is also a damn funny man in person. I started reading his books with a Botany of Desire where he paired two of my favorite academic passions, food and history, brilliant. Since then his books have only gotten better, filled with more food for thought (no pun intended), research and platform for a call to action. And despite all this he was incredibly humble, reminding the audience at the beginning of the lecture that he isn't a scientist,  he is merely an eater and a writer. And that none of his material would be possible with out all the other journalist, scientists, doctors, community members and students who inspire him every day to look at his own life and make good choices. To say I left moved and empowered to help make so changes in my community is an understatement, not just personally, but an understatement by volume. He ended his lecture to a standing ovation of 5,000 individuals in the Portland area that came together to learn about food, agriculture, farm bills, home bee keeping, pesticides, commodities and corporate farms, food policy, legislature, history and health, just to name a few.

I am now home, happy, and sleepy with a brain full of ideas, inspiration and zeal to make changes in my life, my community and hopefully some day in my career. Stay tuned for future blog posts inspired by today about history of food and agriculture, health, resources for making changes in your own life and some highlights from Pollan's funny-man food act. I leave you with a quote from his opening remarks.

"Cereal was Americas first connivence food reducing cooking time and replacing breakfast foods such as eggs and bacon... here is a box of cereal food bars, complete with added fiber, antioxidants plus a layer of synthetic milk. Because we apparently want to eat cereal so badly we cannot wait 2 minuets to take the milk out of the fridge and add it to our bowl."

Apologies for bad grammar, and crappy pictures. Its nearly midnight and its been a long day!

No comments:

Post a Comment