Re: Food Values
From: Cher Stuewe Portnoff (
Date: Sat, 4 Mar 2006 14:29:11 -0800 (PST)
This may be of no help, and you may have already been down this path, but -- what immediately comes to mind -- in our experience, when asked to propose a solution, the person or family who is feelings at odds with the majority often has something quite manageable in mind, always assuming good faith and that they do still want to be included. I've seen group after group try to design solutions FOR the person(s) on the outside, and over-react or complicate things while missing the point. But since you are a cohousing community, you are probably way past this point.

Next to religion, it seems that food values can turn into an us-them situation faster than almost anything. A real challenge to community and friendship. Best of luck today.

Cher & Gregory
Cohousing seekers

----- Original Message ----- From: "Craig Ragland" <craigragland [at]>
To: "Cohousing-L" <cohousing-l [at]>
Sent: Saturday, March 04, 2006 4:03 PM
Subject: [C-L]_ Food Values

This conversation on food labor is poignant for me as I prepare for
facilitating a sharing circle here at Songaia this evening on our values
around food. I'll be quoting from the thread, as well from Dave Wann's book
Reinventing Community; Stories from the walkways of cohousing - many of you
are contributors... thanks

Some of the values we're addressing are:

What food Songaia buys as it relates to:
- organic
- cost
- protein
- fair trade
- local

How we buy/share food
- common meal food
- pantry food (available to all families for use in private homes)
- privately purchased food

How we make the buying/sharing happen
- amounts of free labor
- types of labor
- hidden costs, e.g. gas (buyers currently pay for their own gas)

Forms of participation
- Traditional: Common meals + pantry
- Pantry-only sharing (no common meals)
- Common meal-only sharing (no pantry)
As a check-in, I'll ask people to recall and share memories of a particular
dish or food, sharing why its special for you.

Part of what is triggering this attention at Songaia is a shift in
participation as a family recently decided to withdraw from the common
meals. This is the first time since move-in (2000), that anyone living at
Songaia has chosen not to participate. The couple's concerns are twofold;
(1) the level of noise/activity (mostly kid energy) in the common house
during our meals and the poor support for their diet preferences... they
prefer meat and potatoes, while our meals have emphasized poultry/fish,
rather beef/pork and also support vegetarians. Another recent development is
that two families (both with kids) who do not live here now join us for some
of our common meals. Like many cohousing communities we support a wide
variety of diet needs, but the idea of preparing red meat dishes on a
routine basis has not attractive.

I would love to hear any insights out there on approaches toward dealing
with this disparity? We're meeting in 3 hours, but the circle is really just
take another step in growing our relationships around sharing food and
growing community.

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