What does it take to create a global Movement centred on the power of food to change the world? Passionate like-minded people, skilful facilitation, blood, sweat, tears or just a really good bunch of organic carrots…
While there may not have been blood, there were certainly carrots in Miami this spring as 70+ people gathered to listen, talk, share experiences, cook and eat together. By the end of the 3 days, Working Groups (WG) were formed with heart-felt pledges to bring about transformation on a systemic level in the name of the Social Gastronomy Movement.
What is the Social Gastronomy Movement?
The concept of Social Gastronomy has been around for a long time. Food journalist Ryan King, who participated in the Miami meeting, believes the earliest reference dates back to 1903 and “referred to the idea of different social classes dining together at the table”. This definition still rings true for many of the Miami attendees we interviewed for this blog. They see it as an inclusive vision of the relationship between kitchen and people, a way of serving others that respects the environment and reflects the culture as well as an opportunity to live in a future that is zero hunger and zero waste.
Today, thousands of projects dotted around the globe could be seen as embodying the spirit of the Social Gastronomy Movement. Joaquin Elizondo, Chief Strategist at the Insurgo Project, enthusiastically talks about the Cheese Board Collective, a worker-owned collective in Berkley, California focusing on sustainability and ethical decision-making while serving up mouth-wateringly good pizza (Crimini mushroom & Valbreso feta anyone?) and a vast array of cheeses. And there are many, many more examples to be found from local village farm stores to modern city neighbourhoods and everything in between.
The Importance of the Social Gastronomy Movement
With all these incredible projects already in place, why do we need the Social Gastronomy Movement and why do we need it now? It’s hard to read the news today and not see a story in some way connected to our food system. We’re living in a world where 1/3 of the food produced – 1.3 billion tonnes – is wasted, and most of that waste happens within the food production chain. Every single day 815 million people, that’s 1 in 9 of us, go hungry.
The human-centred Social Gastronomy Movement provides real solutions to these issues using the power of food and gastronomy to address social inequality, improve nutrition education, eliminate food waste and create local jobs. The Miami meeting in April 2018 was a second step co-creation conference – the SGM was announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2018 by David Hertz, founder of Gastromotiva, and a first meeting of counsellors took place in February in Mallorca to set the base for the SGM and define key values and vision.
Watch David Hertz’ TED talk.
Custom Facilitation that Inspires Action
Organizers were initially expecting around 25 people to attend the Miami gathering, but as the Movement gathered momentum that number started to explode, and 70+ individuals – among them leading chefs, entrepreneurs, farmers, journalists, corporate executives, ministers of education, tourism and finance – participated in a Learning Journey followed by 2 immersive days facilitated by Charles Holmes.
“Of the 1000s of meetings and gatherings I have facilitated this ranks as one of the most powerful, profound and impactful!” —Charles Holmes
Holmes carefully designed the meeting to uniquely meet the needs of the Movement, knowing that, early on, he needed to establish high levels of trust among all participants, many of whom came from very different backgrounds with seemingly different world views. Nicola Gryczka, CEO of Gastromotiva and one of the organizers of the Miami meeting, recalls planning the agenda with Charles, David [Hertz] and Leo [Toiberman]: “We wanted to create this safe space, we wanted to have everyone leave their egos at the door … within a short amount of time we created this ambiance.”
That ambiance was achieved by participants’ willingness to embrace the opportunity the Movement presents as well as by somewhat unconventional facilitation tools: accordion music played at the start of the meeting by Colombian musician Manuela Mejia was so beautiful it immediately changed the energy in the room, a Tibetan singing bowl became a (quiet) symbol of reflection & meditation, introductions were by first name only, stripping away any attachment to particular organizations or causes, and conversation groups were rotated so participants had a chance to spend time with everyone during the event.
Trust was cultivated through a heart-centred, farm-to-table Learning Journey on Day 1 of the meeting. This strongly resonated with all those participants we spoke to after the event. Starting at the Harpke Family Farm in Dania Beach, Fl., attendees planted, harvested and learned about sustainable, organic farming practices. With this fresh knowledge and produce (including those tasty carrots!) in hand, they journeyed to the Camillus House centre to cook with renowned local chefs – Carlos Garcia, Santiago Gomez and Diego Oka – and serve up a delicious meal to 240 homeless people. This experience created connection and strong emotions for all involved. Devry Boughner Vorwerk, Corporate Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs at Cargill, describes it as an important trust-building exercise that showed participants how much they have in common, especially in terms of core values.
Saman Salih, Managing Director & Head of Enterprise Solutions at FiscalNote, recalls being profoundly moved by the experience of seeing people feeling like “they belonged, they were part of something… You start to see your ability to impact social inequality just by giving people access to food. That’s a powerful thing.” One man there started to cry as he ate his meal, sharing that he hadn’t eaten this well in over 12 years, and the food was bringing back lost memories.
In many ways, the Harpke family farm and Camillus House are worlds apart and yet at their core they are both connected by a need for nourishment and sustenance. And that’s really the point of the SGM – to be a connector, to provide opportunities for people to connect with each other and with the food we all need to live and thrive.
From Farms to Tables Around the World: The Impact of the Miami Event
What is clear from the Miami event is that participants walked away with a sense of hope, empowerment and a need for action. It was an “invitation to celebrate the Movement all over the planet, and this invitation became real” said social entrepreneur Patrick Honauer after the event.
The meeting successfully sparked action by showing people how to leverage their talents, gifts, experience and networks to create desired outcomes. The design and facilitation mirrored the principles of the SGM – the farm-to-table experience, the connections between kitchen, food and people from diverse backgrounds, co-operation and problem-solving across borders and boundaries, communication of a shared passion and respect for delicious, sustainable food – so participants could quite literally see how to translate their micro experience to the macro, global level. Rafael Rincón, gastronomic entrepreneur & founder of Ñam, describes it as: “the kick off for everyone. It was the necessary starting point for the change that unites us all, the reality of a Gastronomy that can change the world.”
With 9 WGs now in place, and the combined skills and talents of an incredible global network (fuelled by those carrots & plenty more delicious meals!), the potential of the Social Gastronomy Movement is limitless.
Download a PDF version of Tailored Facilitation Helps Social Gastronomy Movement Go Global
Writer: Kim Bridgett with the voices of Devry Boughner Vorwerk, Joaquin Elizondo, Nicola Gryczka, Patrick Honauer, April Nelson, Rafael Rincón, Saman Salih, Georges Schnyder, Leonardo Toiberman and Charles Holmes. Thanks to Gastromotiva for the use of photos for this article.