In fall 2012 I taught the first year course: Security, Equality and Ecology of Global Food Production at Prescott College. For at least 20 years, this class has put on a community educational event called the Global Food Dinner. 100 community members were invited to attend. The students spent a good part of the semester researching different country’s food systems in detail and gave 40 minute presentations to their colleagues in class in small groups. They then chose three meals to prepare for the dinner, each one representative of a typical dish of people living in the lower, middle and upper classes of that country. We took a weekend trip to Phoenix where we toured and shopped at a wide range of ethnic markets to prepare for the dinner, including Baiz Marketplace and Lee Lee’s International Supermarket. Students prepared the meals in their dorm kitchens (or The Village), heated them at Crossroads Cafe and then served them to guests who drew a lottery of country and economic class combinations at the door.
Participants were seated in their country groups. There was a small amount of whining from the participants assigned Afghan internally displaced refugee meals, served plain lentils, many of whom quietly jumped ship to the Italy table for left over polenta, pasta and Osso Bucco. If it were only that easy to meet your food needs in the real world! Students gave 3 minute versions of their country presentations and prepared a compilation of global food system statistics. Participants’ place mats were labelled with different color stickers and they were asked to stand to give a nice visual representation of different aspects of the current food system. I was impressed with every group’s dedication to preparing authentic meals, and particularly impressed with the Somalia and Mexico group who bought a lamb on Craigslist and butchered it themselves, the Fiji group who built a traditional oven (lovo) in their driveway and the Brazil group who prepared a faux McDonald’s meal complete with a paper bag and packaging. I look forward to hosting this event again.