I do think there is value in everyone and anyone setting specific life goals. And just like I think every adult should have a list of things to do before they die — a bucket list, some might call it — so too every child should have a parental-supported list of things to do before they leave the age of innocence and become a teenager. I decided to write that list down, and from my daughter’s fifth birthday until the day she turns thirteen we’re going to try and do them all.
41. A supermarket in another country.
A foreign supermarket? Big deal, you say? I beg to differ…
Ten years ago when we moved into our house and started the long, slow process of landscaping our yard I was only certain of one thing: I wanted a vegetable garden. It was a family tradition. My grandparents were backyard gardeners. My parents seemed to have green thumbs. And don’t even get me started on the many generations of farmers from which both my wife and I have descended.
Why a garden? Well, it may be nothing more than a personal belief, but I think that the more layers in which we wrap ourselves –technology, media, and urban society– the more disconnected we become from our food and that fundamental, intrinsic understanding that it grows… in the ground… from the Earth.
I wanted a garden so that my kid could experience a little fragment of closeness to where food comes from (and subsequently it has worked out rather well for a number of the neighbourhood kids as well.)
The supermarket thing is tangential to that motivation. It’s a connection to something in between plate and mouth: that our food gets to us by strange and complex means, that everyone eats, and that while some things are almost indistinguishable between a small city in Western Canada and a tiny little fishing hamlet in middle-of-nowhere Iceland, there are also some very obvious differences.
When we travel we try and eat locally: we sample local cuisine, avoiding fast food even moreso on vacation than we do at home. We also hit up markets and local grocery stores and buy-to-try a multitude of both the familiar and not-so-familiar.
Does it make us better travellers? I wouldn’t claim that. But there is something very humanizing about understanding where and how the locals get their food … normal food … Tuesday evening, rush-home-from-work and just-get-something-cooked type food.
Admittedly Iceland was not the most exotic of supermarkets we could have visited –and we will visit many, many more in the future, all over the world, I hope– but it was just different enough for a girl who goes on a weekly shopping trip with her parents back home, to get a taste of the oh-so-familiar but definitely-foreign experience of eating abroad.