Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Eat Simply and Eat Together: Cultivating Community through Shared Meals


My chat tonight on ABC Queensland Radio was all about sharing meals with neighbours. This is the recording from my weekly Simple Living segment with host Trevor Jackson.



https://soundcloud.com/user-523529725/eat-simply-and-eat-together-cultivating-community-through-shared-meals

The simple act of sharing meals together with neighbours is beneficial in so many ways. Here's just a small selection:

  • Encourages people to share their homegrown produce, and support others to grow more.
  • It opens conversations and breaks the ice. Less than half os us know who their neighbours are.
  • It builds friendships (not just acquaintances) 
  • Intergenerational connections
  • Local kids getting to know each other and making friends
  • It allows people to catch up and get to know new members of the neighbourhood
  • It cultivates a sense of community and helps people feel they are part of a neighbourhood and experience a sense of belonging - a connectedness
  • It improves social cohesion - when people know and trust their neighbours there is less likelihood of conflict
  • It improves health and well-being (studies show social connection is good for your health)
  • It reduces loneliness and isolation
  • It increases feelings of happiness
  • People begin to know and trust their neighbours and therefore feel safer.  It also creates a safer place for the kids - more people looking out for them 
  • Gets people talking about local food, good food, possibly starting a community or verge garden, shared chooks or a community composting system.
However, twenty-five percent of Australians live alone and many families share only a couple of meals a week. Sharing meals still happens, but not as much as it could, or needs to. There is a lot of loneliness, isolation depression and disconnection in our communities.

Why not invite people in your neighbourhood to share a meal?

  • bring a plate to share/potluck
  • a progressive meal in your street
  • a simple BBQ
  • Where? in your home, on the verge, close the cul-de-sac, in a community hall, in a community garden or local park, at school. 
Combine activities:
  • permablitz and shared meal
  • local food picnic in the park
  • welcome refugees with a shared meal
  • invite neighbours over to share a meal with international visitors (eg: WWOOFers/Workaway volunteers)
  • ...

Once people start coming together and knowing one another, all kinds of positive ripple effects can happen. There's lots of examples of this I have experienced that I share during the segment.

Preparing our own shared meals from scratch means we can use local and seasonal produce, learn new recipes from each other, share seeds and plant cuttings, sometimes even swap garden labour.

Sharing meals is a traditional way of eating and it makes so much sense. I understand that people have busy lives and finding time for this is a challenge, but consciously making the effort to make the time will bring many rewards.

We have weekly shared meals here at Crystal Waters and up to 80 residents get together to eat, play, talk, share, dance, play music, sit around a fire ... We also get together for birthday milestones and other significant life events.

I hope you enjoy listening to this podcast and feel free to share it.

  • Do you share meals with your neighbours? 
  • How does it work for you? 
  • Where do you have them? 


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