Turning an Everyday Meal into a ‘Feast for the Future’

It is easy to picture a ‘feast for the future’ as being a grand affair – but why not try and tweak the kind of meals we hold everyday so as to let some of the utopian light in? Using what was going to be the same old breakfast, lunch or dinner as a way of bringing a better future into momentary being – suddenly there alongside us, around the kitchen table, or campfire, or picnic blanket, or public square, or wherever …

At its most basic this might simply involve paying a little more attention to an apparently simple thing – how we eat and drink together – and thinking through how this can immediately be made ‘better’: more ethical, more sustainable. You might adopt a simple rule for the meal, turning it into a game that engages with these issues. For instance:

1) as many as ingredients as possible to be grown/produced within a 20 mile radius
2) no plastics involved in acquiring any of the components of the meal
3) everything to be sourced from local independents

But even such apparently simple threads can quickly pay out into knottier extensions. Will this everyday-utopian meal also be more healthy? (and how?). Will it be more fun? (and how? and why!). And what is actually entailed by a meal being more ethical, more sustainable? For instance, what would relying only on locally produced ingredients do to coffee producers in Ethiopia or banana producers in the Caribbean? Exploring these questions should be part of the process, a pleasurable returning of attention to what we do each day almost without thinking about it – and while it might not ever see us arrive at a ‘right’ answer, the chances are that we’ll probably find ourselves a little further down the road towards one.

And then, why not pair this attention to what we might do now with some conversation that takes us off down wilder paths … So, what would an everyday meal look like in a utopian, ideal future? With all the questions that brings with it: who is at the table, where do you live, what do you do each day, why … Remembering as well that just in having that conversation, and being at a meal with friends (or strangers), you’re already showing how the idea that ‘There Is No Alternative’ is a lie: in that people exist and co-operate together all the time, right now, in ways that do not depend on, and are not interested in, the logic of the market, which is a parasite on our world but pretends to be its skeleton.

And then, how might you bring the energy gathered round your table into contact with the better futures you’ve just talked about?

Turning an everyday meal into a ‘Feast for the Future’ can be as simple as just deciding to do it, and then working it out on the fly, as you go, and seeing where you end up. But for those who are interested, over the next few months we’re going to be gathering here a collection of short pieces from people with a wide variety of expertise, which might be of interest to anyone setting out to add a salting of utopia to their daily bread. The pieces won’t be anything as standard or straightforward as a set of recipes to be followed mechanically; but rather, a series of fresh ingredients to be stirred into the mix, as anyone wishes, and if they see fit.