My name is Hannah Berman and I am a Human Development student at Prescott College. I am, as of recently, in Hawaii and working on developing my own independent study over the next couple months. My competence (major) is currently under the title “holistic health” and I am trying to really focus on food and nutrition. I have become very passionate about food justice, public health, and herbal medicine. These interests, as well as a love for farming, gardening, cooking, being outdoors, and working with kids have led me to become extremely motivated to get involved with a farm to school or school garden program. This became a main goal of mine when I decided to come to Hawaii. Now that I am in Maui, I have been reading this book titled Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan and it is totally changing the way I think about food. Not only that, but the author had a medical practice in Hawaii, which is what inspired her to write the book! Too coincidental…
So, this book talks about the importance of traditional food and how food actually changes our genes. Our ancestors’ lives revolved around collecting and concentrating nutrition and this allowed them to experience undeniable health and beauty. To so many of us in modern society, food is merely fuel. However, in parts of the world where people are still connected to their culinary origins, food is so much more. It is part of their religion and identity. In the book, Shanahan actually uses Hawaii as an example of a place where traditions of self-sufficiency are still ALIVE and culinary wisdom is still passed down from generation to generation. Hawaii also has the longest life expectancy of any state in the US. After reading and thinking about this concept, I have realized how disconnected I am. I was not raised exposed to any real traditional nutritional knowledge and I do not feel connected to any sort of culinary origins.
This has led to a few questions:
1) How do I reconnect with my ancestors’ culinary traditions and nutritional wisdom in order to supply my genes with traditional food?
2) How have the Hawaiian people preserved their genetic wealth through food?
3) What role does food play in sense of place?
4) What is my family history in relation to food and therefore genetic wealth?
I have come up with a few intentions which I feel will help me answers these questions and more:
– immerse myself in Hawaiian culture in order to learn the secrets of genetic wealth from healthy people
– learn Hawaiian traditional culinary techniques
– experience food-gathering, cooking and storing practices that our ancestors used
– draw connections between food and beauty/genes and health
– learn the foods that made us HUMAN
– establish a personal relationship between myself, the land, and the plants and animals that make up my diet
– start talking about the most important aspect of food: it’s SOURCE
I realize this is a lot and I think that the more I read and think about this stuff, the more concentrated it will become and it will continue to evolve and take new forms. I am excited to see where this journey takes me…