We talk and laugh as we make several hundred egg rolls. Washing, chopping, and steaming vegetables actually goes too fast so we’re glad when wrapping and frying each roll slows us down. That’s because we didn’t just get together to make and freeze appetizers for the holiday season. We also wanted to hang out. Being productive at the same time seems like a perk.
These friends and I have gotten together to do large-scale projects for years. Usually six of us manage to show up when it’s time to turn bushels of apples into jars of applesauce or make sushi for a fund-raiser.
I’m all about saving time and money, especially if there’s fun involved. Shared food prep is one way. Another is a food buying cooperative. I would never have been able to afford organic foods and holistic personal care items if I didn’t belong to a co-op. I wouldn’t have met some wonderful people either.
That’s why I find myself nodding as I read Andrea Belcham’s new book Food and Fellowship: Projects and Recipes to Feed a Community. Fresh from Natural Life Books, a publisher committed to sustainable practices, this volume is about more than frugal dining. It’s about enhancing health, building skills, and creating bonds with neighbors. The book stemmed from the author’s desire to serve her family quality foods. But, like many of us, she found herself without an abundance of time or money. She solved the problem by combining her resources with others in her community to make food buying and preparation a shared activity.
The book provides guidelines for developing a food buying club, with detailed information about managing members and storing food. And it gives plenty of ideas for batch cooking groups. These range from large gatherings in rented kitchen space to smaller group set-ups. Some of my favorite shared food suggestions include meal swap groups, dining co-ops, using food to establish a local bartering economy, and a CSA-style program of packed school lunches.
Belcham fills out this guide with 100 vegan recipes, easily tweakable in quantites and ingredients, plus an appendix of useful information. She has inspired me to seek out more ways to share food buying and preparation. Come to think of it, I’m out of those home made egg rolls.
Complimentary copy of the book was provided for this review.