Building Community through Food

Think about how important food is in our culture. We court over food. We donate food to those in need. Food factors into gift-giving and takes a special role during holidays and gatherings. We gather as a family over a common dinner table. (In my house growing up, the TV went off during dinner and we didn’t answer the phone.) We teach our children an elaborate set of rules and mannerisms that govern the world of food. As we learned in school, food, shelter and clothing are the three basic human needs of pure physical survival.

©Darwin Wiggett - Yummy!

©Darwin Wiggett – Yummy! 

What does food have to do with photography? Here at oopoomoo, we donate every year to a charity or non-profit to support the efforts of these organizations in creating a healthy, sustainable and diverse planet. This past year, we donated our photography services to the Cochrane Cookhouse in recognition of the incredible work that this organization performs for the community. While we could just have handed over cash, it seemed a good opportunity to meet and engage with Cookhouse staff and volunteers by offering our photography and editorial services. The experience was awesome! We’d already attended some of the excellent classes offered by the Cookhouse, such as learning how to can and preserve, make your own cheese and yogurt, and cook up a mean (and healthy) ethnic meal. But by donating our time and skill, we got to learn more about the talented and hard-working people who bring such fun and educational programs to our town.

©Darwin Wiggett - Craig Westhaver of

©Darwin Wiggett – Craig Westhaver of

Let’s face it: food security and the quality of our food and water are going to be (some would argue they already are) defining issues in Canada in coming years. Certainly the plentiful bounty we experience, and the copious food waste we produce, are already trends pointing to an unsustainable food production cycle that will be reset, whether we plan for it and manage it or it just happens to us. That’s why entities like the Cochrane Cookhouse are so important: not only do they offer opportunities to learn the lost art of producing and storing your own healthy food, but they also provide opportunities to connect with your neighbours. In a political climate of short-sighted economic policy and ‘business as usual’ backroom deals, it’s even more important for citizens to directly engage with such grass-roots groups. If you’re lucky enough to have one in your community, support it, share information about it and above all treasure it.

©Darwin Wiggett - Sam on dish duty at the Cookhouse

©Darwin Wiggett – Sam on dish duty at the Cookhouse

About the Author

Photographing the incredible beauty of natural things, filming quirky videos, trying new foods with unpronounceable names, curling up with a good book, sharing ideas on how to live lighter on the Earth...these are a few of my favourite things!

1 Comment

  1. Jane Chesebrough
    January 19, 2014

    I was talking with friends yesterday about WECAN food basket society in Alberta, where people buy food as a group and it is divided into portions for singles and families. It costs $5 yearly to join and purchases of up to $20 go toward buying servings of meat and/or vegetables. Alberta Food Banks also list community kitchens (up to 200) that are in churches , community halls where people gather in a group to make food then take it home. Menus are planned by participants.I only learned recently that many of the school lunch programs get their food from the food banks Advise people to look up WECAN or Alberta Association of Food Banks.Lastly, the thought of Peach Saskatoon berry cobbler had my mouth watering. Liked the variety of courses that the Cochrane Cookhouse has to offer.


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