We Think Janet Hamilton is a Big Deal

There are a lot of people doing a lot of good work in the food movement in the Greater Moncton Area. Why do we have a big picture of Janet Hamilton for the first issue or our Food Movement Beat? It’s because she is all about teaching that most basic and powerful skill of cooking, a skill that if learned, it could go a long way to fixing a dozen or more of the world’s problems. Anyone familiar with the shortcomings of our food system knows this is not exaggeration.

We became students of the food movement after our Community Food Mentor programs with Alya Nouasri and Janet, Elaine in June and Archie in January. Once we started to talk about the issues and the food system and all its effects on health, culture, behaviour, the economy and on and on, we started to realize how food really is something people can organize around in myriad ways and make a difference.

The paralyzing question is: Where to start? Food is an astonishingly big topic. But after nearly a year of meeting many of the people who make up the movement — because Moncton Beats is about people who make up the heart of the community — we keep coming back to that one powerful activity that makes everyone — including children — experts on the food system and that’s cooking.

Once you start cooking, then you start appreciating food and then you start looking for good food, maybe buying from farmers markets, talking to farmers, maybe growing your own vegetables or keeping a couple of chickens, and then wondering how in the world all that food got into the grocery stores from who knows where and what’s the true cost of it being so cheap, and on and on.

Whether it’s a one-pot meal for single people living on low income, or a baked potato for children who don’t know where potatoes come from, many start the journey with Janet in her teaching kitchen.

There are other teaching kitchens, other people teaching cooking, but whenever there is a meeting about food in the Greater Moncton Area, be it about policy or pickles, you’ll probably find Janet there putting in her two cents, and taking home the peelings to make soup stock.