By Waltraud Beckmann
[Note: While I was at the Taste of Greenmarket in New York City last week, I asked a couple of guest bloggers to cover Hope College’s Critical Issues Symposium, “Good Food for the Common Good.” Waltraud Beckmann is one of them, and she checked in with Bryant Terry to hear his keynote address on October 5. The following blog post is her account.]
Hope College’s Dimnent Chapel was filled the evening of October 5 with about 1,000 people–students from the college and many people from the community–to hear Bryant Terry, food justice activist and author, who kicked off the Critical Issues Symposium as keynote speaker by talking about good food and food rituals, preparing food, cooking food, and serving it to many of the attending Hope college students.
One does not go to hear Bryant Terry; one goes to experience him. He is not a lecturer, he engages. (No wonder the daughter of a friend of mine asked me to pick up a copy of his book and get it autographed since she is in Alaska. “He is one of my heroes,” she said.)
What a wonderful thing to be: a food hero. How important and necessary to impress changes of thinking about, using, and eating food. Like a lot of young people (and older people), Bryant Terry began to drift over to the teenage mode of embracing processed food and fast food from an upbringing of healthy eating and positive attitudes toward food with his grandparents until, one day, he heard the song “Beef,” which stopped him in his tracks and determined his future and current direction of interest and activism.
Bryant Terry shared the various stages he went through to get to where he is now–more than an activist, a promoter of healthy food. As he said, “Good Food for Common Good”, is a very appropriate symposium title. It represents what he shared as being important to live fully–including rituals (sharing libations and ancestral memories), symbolisms, reflections, and singing (such as the song his grandmother would sing while cooking).
And he did cook for us, right there in the chapel.
It was a very special and meaningful experience, seeing him prepare, cut, cook, and serve a simple vegan dish. And the students ate it all up.