Archive for the ‘tradition’ tag
Meandering through the farmer’s market on a lazy Saturday morning this past week, I stumbled upon a rare and always exciting find: peaches. Early in the summer they are difficult to find, so by August I had almost forgotten about them. But to see something again that you know is so good-in this case juicy and perfectly ripe peaches- you begin to wonder how you ever lived without it. I bought a ton of them, exclaiming their greatness to everyone around me as I paid, and continued on my way with a delightful snack in hand. As I continued to look around, I noticed many foods that I haven’t seen at the markets lately. The new abundance of squash, beets, and other new produce could only mean one thing- the harvest season has begun.
To many of us, autumn means school or breaking out our winter jackets, but there is a long tradition of harvest all around the world that we might not often think about. For example, in ancient Israel special offerings were made at Temples three times a year: first when seeds were planted, then when farmers reaped the first crops, and finally when the harvest was in full swing. Who knew that holidays such as Passover had some association with the harvest season? And while it seems logical to think of the sun when we think of crops (the sun does help produce grow, after all), long standing Chinese traditions rejoice in the harvest moon instead. Harvest moon celebrations occur in mid-August, when the moon is said to be at its brightest, for it is s symbol of abundance. There are so many different ways to think about the harvest season. How do we celebrate harvest in our own community, here in Fort Collins?
We are certainly fortunate in this city, where fresh produce is farmed nearby and delicious peaches are available as soon as they are picked. But the idea of harvest seems to go way beyond food. A great example of this is a Fort Collins based company called the Northern Colorado Food Incubator. The name suggests something very technical, and also very food-centered. However, browsing their website, I surprised at all the Food Incubator does for our community. They are dedicated to a “Living Economy,” which means that they “support independent community- and land-based businesses and advocate for a whole, resilient community and bio-region.” This mission statement says little about farmers specifically, but rather emphasizes encouraging independent and entrepreneurial local endeavors. I was also excited to see how much of their website was dedicated to local events and community building projects. I found out about that Lyric Cinema Cafe, a local independent movie theatre, is showing a series of films that highlight food and sustainability, and that author and food activist Gary Nabhan will be giving a free lecture at the Lincoln Center next week. In supporting local food-bases businesses, the Northern Colorado Food Incubator helps boost the Fort Collins economy, while at the same time engaging the public in fun and interesting ways. What first appeared to be a food-only business is actually affecting the entire community.
The Northern Colorado Food Incubator shows us what an impact the harvest has on our lives here in Fort Collins. When you think about it, this is true for all cultures as well. The offerings at harvest time, or the celebration of the wondrous moon, are all activities that bring people together.
So as the harvest season comes to our city, think about how our community celebrates and what that celebration really means to you. At Beet Street, we want to help commemorate not just the harvest but its effects on Fort Collins. Beginning September 25th, Beet Street is bringing Homegrown Fort Collins to our community. Homegrown Fort Collins celebrates the harvest season and its contribution to community and local culture. Beet Street will be featuring events ranging from Downtown Tasting Tours, to VIP chef’s tours of the local farmers’ markets, to cooking competitions and demos (all using local produce). Bringing people together is a cornerstone of the Fort Collins lifestyle. Enjoying good food with friends and family while engaging in the unique elements of our community is one of the things that make living in northern Colorado so special.
What does “home” mean to you? Does home mean a building, or somewhere that you feel comfortable? What tastes or smells like home? Collard greens, tortillas, steaming rice or noodles–green bean casserole? How long has your family called Fort Collins, or Colorado, or the United States your home? If you are Native American, the Americas have always been your ancestral home, if not it’s likely that someone in your family’s past journeyed from somewhere else–to what today we call the United States. Some of our ancestors were forced to cross the Atlantic, others made epic journeys and stayed, while many others did not. (According to Irving Howe, for example, one-third of European immigrants who came to North America between 1908 and 1924 returned home).
Since U.S. schools have traditionally framed themselves as agents of assimilation, we have been taught that immigrants who assimilated were successful, although researcher Richard Rothstein shows that during the immigration period from 1880 to 1915, very few Americans did well in school–immigrants of all backgrounds did poorly. The myth of “first generation” immigrants making it in their new home is not supported by research; indeed, it shows that only successive generations achieved more academically! The process of finding home is often tough and traumatic.
For generations, many Americans imagined themselves thrown into the melting pot, or in the case of African Americans they constructed culture while they were denied the opportunity to jump in. Not all Americans are the descendants of immigrants, and today, few people find the concept of a melting pot of culture appealing–the high temperature of the metaphor evokes the actual pain of assimilation! We prefer to imagine ourselves as a patchwork, a nation that is more like a quilt with different cultural traditions and contributions forming the pattern. Our eclectic foodways, as mentioned earlier for example, reflect the contributions of family dinners from around the globe, and should serve to remind us that finding home takes different ingredients.
Early immigrants are celebrated for laying the foundations of U.S. culture and economy, while new neighbors are often blamed for the inequity they face in our society. On one hand, we celebrate and mythologize European immigrants of the past, and on the other, we often stereotype or even fear people currently trying to find their way home.
Guillermo Gómez-Peňa visited Fort Collins last year–check out his Strange Democracy performance to get his take on anti-immigration hysteria. What part do you and your family play in this still unfolding story? Between April 2 and May 3, Beet Street‘s Finding Home Series celebrates our collective past–everyday our histories and lives make Fort Collins lively and vibrant. How will you participate? How will you celebrate your story? How will you celebrate your home?
These are important material questions. One half of the world’s population, for example, approximately 3 billion people on six continents, lives or works in buildings constructed of earth. Between 1927 and 1935, New Mexico immigrants John and Inez Rivera Romero built a four-room adobe house in Fort Collins’ Andersonville district. Members of the Romero family called that house “home” until the Poudre Landmarks Foundation purchased it in 2001. The Romero House stands as a monument to many immigrants who worked skillfully to create an inexpensive, yet sound, home in a short period of time. Finding home meant making adobe bricks–sand and clay mixed with water and straw, then drying them in the open air. The Romero House (renovated into the Museo de las Tres Colonias) serves as an interpretative center to celebrate the contributions of the Hispanic community in northern Colorado. Find out what’s planned for April in our home town and come and celebrate with us!
Thanks for the mouth watering photo by 水泳男!