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New Earth Eats’ Blogger: Sara Conrad And The Cultural Table

What we consume, how we acquire it, who prepares it, and who’s at the table is all a form of communication rich with meaning. Welcome to the cultural table!

I’m a wife and a mother, a student and a researcher. I study Tibetan culture, specifically women and children. One of my main questions is how Tibetan mothers reproduce their culture and pass it on to their children, and guess what? Food is almost always the number one way!

Midwest Ties

I was born in southern Ohio and moved around the Midwest most of my life. When I was three years old our family home burned down. We moved into a farm house with no running water. It was my job to pick Morel Mushrooms (when in season) in our back woods. Throughout my childhood I considered Morel Mushrooms “poor people food” (not very PC but that’s what we called it). Imagine my surprise when years later I picked up Morel Mushrooms for $16.00/lb! We were living the high life and didn’t even know it!

I am Obsessed With What I Eat

When I became pregnant I became obsessed! Not with picking out cute cloths or baby bedding, but what I was putting in my body. I stopped eating meat, I started taking vitamins, and all of a sudden – I felt amazing! I wish I would have started caring about my body years ago, but hey, it is never too late!

I’m giving my son a better start than I ever had—I specifically remember my mother making me a hamburger in a greasy iron skillet and then dipping the white bread in the grease before she gave it to me.

My son has never had cow milk and never eats meat (well there were a few occasions at the Tibetan Cultural Center when the monks gave it to him!). Skeptics might debate that he is missing something in his diet. Medically, he is tall for his age and the perfect weight, his iron levels are also great. I sprinkle his diet with foods from around the world—momos, tagines, couscous, garlic, plantain, qunioa, etc. And he loves it all!

Food And Culture

Food is important to every culture, every single person must eat to survive—this is something we all share. But our food also ties us to one another, sets us apart and makes us who we are.

Why do some people claim to not feel full until they eat rice while other people need meat at every meal? Since I’m interested in exploring culture through food, questions like these are fascinating to me.

What we consume, how we acquire it, who prepares it, who’s at the table, and who eats first is a form of communication that is rich with meaning. Beyond merely nourishing (and sometimes destroying) the body, what we eat and with whom we eat can inspire and strengthen the relationships between individuals, communities, and yes, even nations.

Welcome to the cultural table!

Sara Conrad

Sara is an eternal student. Currently studying Tibetan Culture at Indiana University, she loves to cook with fresh, organic, vegetarian ingredients – but also has never turned down fake mashed potatoes in a buffet line.

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