We are what we eat.
But how does that momism apply to a city?
What can we learn about ourselves from the dishes we create, the meals we share, the bread that is broken?
"Food is not just nutrition that goes in your mouth or even pleasant sensations that go with it. It connects to your whole life, and it's really a very important part of performing your culture and experiencing your culture." -Paul Rozin
Psychologist Paul Rozin, who made a name for himself studying the interplay between what we eat and our identity, had this delicious observation about our appetites: "Food is not just nutrition that goes in your mouth or even pleasant sensations that go with it," he said earlier this year in an interview on NPR. "It connects to your whole life, and it's really a very important part of performing your culture and experiencing your culture."
So on one hot Friday in July, our newsroom was given a tall order to get at that connection: tell a story for every hour of the day, each one offering food for thought on what nourishes and sustains our city.
The stories had to go well beyond the carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and vitamins being consumed. Similarly, we had to serve up more than tales of baking, boiling, braising or barbecuing.
Instead, we needed to get at what was happening around kitchen tables, late-night hangouts, crack-of-dawn bakeries, park picnics, truck stops and street parties.
We had to capture expressions of intimacy and innovation. We had to understand the intersection of faith and ritual when it comes to food. And we needed to ensure we stirred in associations of desire and delight, comfort and compassion.
"Our one-day project began at the stroke of midnight on July 13. At the top of the hour we moved to the next story. We didn’t stop until we had digested everything this city had to offer."
Our one-day project began at the stroke of midnight on July 13. At the top of the hour we moved to the next story. We didn’t stop until we had digested everything this city had to offer.
While the Free Press isn’t in the food business, the information we serve up each and every day does help feed the needs of our city.
A fine newspaper, much like a fine meal, requires the right ingredients. And a must among those ingredients is the capacity to do what others can’t, or won’t, to ensure a news diet that is well-balanced and trustworthy.
The 24-course menu we prepared required us to put 30 journalists on the street to deliver round-the-clock coverage.
Then there was a team of editors standing by to sort through the interviews and hundreds of photographs taken from the Maples to Main Street to the University of Manitoba and everywhere else in between.
Finally, our digital team was busy building an online experience worthy of the well-known adage among chefs that "you eat with your eyes first."
Our hope is that you enjoy consuming Food for Thought as much as we did in planning and preparing it for you.
Paul Samyn has been part of the Free Press newsroom for more than a quarter century, working his way up after starting as a rookie reporter in 1988.