The Mangia! Mangia! Manifesto

1. Food tradition is central to culture, identity and meaning.

This is why immigrants the world over hold on to their food traditions and create their own community in their adopted country. It’s all about identity, familiarity and cultural expression of which food is a key tool.

2. Food traditions link us to the past, present and future.

We all need to feel a part of something greater than ourselves so as to be settled in the present and confident about the future. Food traditions, passed on from generation to generation provide a sense of history, belonging and participation.

3. It’s all about relationships.

Sitting around a dinner table sharing a meal, no matter how humble, satisfies a basic human need to connect with people. This important cultural ritual nurtures the soul as well as the taste buds. This is the reason why it is often difficult to motivate oneself to cook dinner for one.

4. To learn is to be empowered.

Real food, how to cook it, serve it and grow it was not intended to be a mystery. Cookbooks have not been around for that long but cooking has. It’s simple and rewarding. Start with baby steps, talk to older experienced relatives and friends, share ideas and allow yourself to be creative.

5. Control over one’s food leads to control over one’s self.

Involve the children.It is no coincidence that socially alienated characters portrayed in movies invariably survive on junk food and are never seen walking through a market marvelling at the fresh fruit and vegetables. Choose your food and you choose your life.

6. Share and share some more.

Food becomes memorable when it is shared. It’s funny how we always remember the moments when a friend or relative shared something as simple as a cut lunch on that long bus trip. No matter how small or humble the offering the exchange is joyous and good for you.

7. Be led by the seasons and you will never feel alone.

Walk with the seasons and you will always be in good company. You plant, it grows and you reap its rewards. You nurture and it thanks you with joy and satisfaction.

8. Involve the children.

Real food is too important to be left to adults only. Food literacy begins at home, in the kitchen as well as the garden. It’s cheaper than a video game and prepares them for life.

9. Access to real food is a human right.

You can judge a society by what it feeds its most vulnerable citizens. Good public policy is important in ensuring people in nursing homes; hospitals, prisons and other institutions are fed good tasty food with dignity and cultural sensitivity.

10. Respect for nature and animals.

Our parents and grandparents (and generations before them) were ‘greenies’ well before the term came into existence. Their relationship with the land and its bounty is one of reverence and insight. The reverence extends to animals. Yes cows, pigs and chickens were slaughtered however the process was highly ritualized and no part of the animal was wasted. This approach acknowledges the sacrifice of a life and humble gratitude.