#EarthDay21: Connections to Food

  • April 22, 2021
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  • Rachel Geissinger

When I held my daughter as a baby, I had many hopes for her, wondered who she might become, and what she would love. I was, however, convinced that she would be a child who would love interesting foods and want to eat all the vegetables available to her. These particular dreams for her… they haven’t come true yet, but I’m still holding on to hope. At six, she is not a particularly adventurous eater (everything is too spicy) and there are only few vegetables that she’ll eat (in abundance if she helps grow them). Why was I convinced that she would love the same things I do? I wonder how her tastes will change as the years go by and, for this moment, I enjoy the time we spend in the garden and kitchen growing, preparing, and talking about the connection to gardens to tables to tummies.

With the first month of spring well underway and plants emerging from their winter home, my work colleagues and I have similar conversations but with more excitement at the thought of a new recipe. Our Environmental Initiative staff team has vast interest, knowledge, and expertise in growing gardens and eating food. All food, interesting food, adventurous food, you know, all the food that my child looks at and politely declines (at least she’s polite, right?)

These topics dominate the monthly Green Team meetings. Formed in the pre-pandemic days of 2020 in a place called an office where our original goal was “greening” our space, we were going to recommend green cleaning supplies, more earth-friendly toner, and research low- and no-waste lunches. We had high hopes and big plans. Then, a global pandemic and the question: What do we do now? We spent time calculating Environmental Initiative’s carbon footprint from 2019 (a time where we traveled by both car and air to meetings!) and we created a “green corner” in our weekly internal staff email. Soon our virtual meetings veered away from work and we’d spend our 30 minutes focused on favorite foods we were eating and plants we were growing.

Our love of food manifests itself in many different ways. We have some very ambitious gardeners who have turned entire lawns into fruit and vegetable plots, who keep bees, who grow vegetables on decks and balconies, and who are growing countless other plants inside (including keeping our office plants alive in their own homes.) Countless staff could talk for hours about what they will plant this year, share their favorite seed supplier, and give tips on general earth friendly lawn and garden care. Many of the “green corner” articles and tips have focused on gardening.

Besides growing food, Environmental Initiative staff also has vast knowledge and love of preparing and eating food. Many meetings start or end with a discussion on what’s for dinner tonight. Our Green Team was tasked with revamping our annual fall chili cook-off into something virtual for 2020. The result is a delicious collection of more than 20 soup recipes in volume one of our Environmental Initiative cookbook. The cookbook launch was celebrated with a virtual lunch complete with a quiz to match a recipe with a person.

For the arrival of spring, we decided it was time for Environmental Initiative’s second volume—salads. Once again, a resounding success! Taste testing and sharing will occur at our monthly virtual lunch and I am anxiously waiting for the vegetables to grow in my garden so I can try each and every one of these recipes.

I have high hopes that one day my daughter will love food the way our staff does, and I do believe she will. I hope she has the chance to have coworkers who can discuss their latest dinner, garden victory, and favorite restaurant. I feel so lucky to be a part of a team who celebrates a shared love of our planet as well as gardening and food that lead to deeper relationships with each other.