There is something special about the food we eat. The way it smells, the way it tastes, and the memories it brings back can be so comforting. The best part? Connecting with one another over a shared meal. After all, food is a universal language that brings us all together. 

But sometimes, it seems like our relationship with food can get a little too comfortable—we keep ourselves too busy and mindlessly eat without really enjoying our food or connecting with others at mealtime. For some of us, cooking is an enjoyable pastime; for others, it can be a way to show affection for loved ones. It’s so much more than nourishment. Food is about connection and community.

START HERE 

Step into your kitchen, and the rest will follow. I promise. What makes it more enjoyable is cooking a meal with your partner or friends. The process of preparing and eating it together is a close second to nothing else. And use your hands as much as possible. Physical touch doesn’t just benefit person-to-person; it can begin a meaningful conversation between you and your ingredients too. 

If you’re anything like me and work best alone in the kitchen, no sweat! Pour your significant other a glass of wine and let him or her stand by the doorway to watch you work. I’ve had some of the best conversations with my guy this way. 

FINDING YOUR GREEN THUMB 

Watching your food grow infuses a strong appreciation into it. It also builds a connection that you don’t quite feel until you taste the food. You nurse it through its growth, whisper sweet nothings to it at least twice a day, and then honor it in the dish you prepare. Guess what happens next? It honors you back through its nourishment. That’s what I call a reciprocal relationship. 

If you’d like to get your hands dirty in the most rewarding way as a volunteer at a local garden, Square Mile Community Development is a great place to do so. They are working on quite a few special projects to create solutions for the issue of food insecurity in our city.

Contact Donna Dorman at donna@square-mile.org for more information or to volunteer at one of their two gardens. 

CONNECTION THROUGH FARMERS MARKETS

I’ve got three words for you: farm-to-table. When we connect these two things, we appreciate and respect food even more. When I know how the food I choose to eat is grown, raised, or produced, the act of eating it is no longer a quick, mindless action. It becomes a complete experience. When I eat a beet that I picked up at the farmers’ market, I can taste the earth that gave it life. I can almost smell the nutrients it provides, and I give thanks to the beet that took eight weeks to grow just for me. 

On the Saturdays in which I have nothing planned, I try to venture out to our local community markets to grab the freshest of the freshest produce. And if you’re lucky, you’ll find some gorgeous floral bundles to adorn your dining room table. So, pencil the farmers market into your Saturday errands and get to know our local growers and producers on a firstname basis. 

OTHER WAYS TO CONNECT 

  • Share your cultural heritage: Sharing food that has been passed down through generations can create a sense of pride and connection to one’s roots. Have your besties over and prepare a traditional dish that will wow them for days. 
  • Volunteer at The High Plains Food Bank: This fantastic organization provides food assistance to families in need throughout the Texas Panhandle. By volunteering with them, you can make a huge difference in the lives of those who are struggling with food insecurity—while also connecting with others who are passionate about fighting hunger. 
  • Sign up for a cooking class and learn how to make new dishes, while meeting new people who share your interest in cooking creatively. I know someone who would love to teach ya! (Wink, wink.) 

When you connect with others through food, you build relationships that last a lifetime and make a positive change in our community. So let’s continue to cook, share, give back, and let food be the delicious foundation for connection, community, and love.

Author

  • Ruthie Martinez

    Ruthie owns Black Fig Food catering and is proprietor of the online cooking platform Elevated Plant Plate. Learn more at blackfigfoodprograms.com and blackfigfood.com.