Schumacher College
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Awakening our Relationship with Food

Forest Garden Salad

September 13 – 17, 2010

Edward Espe Brown, Carolyn Steel

Click here to book your place online.

This course steps back from asking what to eat and how to cook it and reflects on our relationship to food as a whole, and what it can tell us about how we relate to the natural world and our inner world. Incorporating insights from Zen philosophy as well as discussions of what a sustainable diet these days might be, this course may well change the way you think about your food for ever!

Course Detail

Cooking is not just following recipes, but “seeing with your eyes, smelling with your nose, tasting with your tongue…nothing in the universe is hidden.” Beyond rote and chore –doing what you’ve been told—is the freedom to realise the way to cook, letting the ingredients come forward to awaken and nourish, letting yourself come alive. Talks for this course will focus on essentials of Zen practice in the kitchen, and on use of the five flavours in harmony with the five elements in Chinese Medicine theory. Activities will also include baking, cutting, chopping, cleaning, careful structured tastings, and preparing food together. Food is mystery, source, and sustenance, meeting the heart of the matter in meeting the ingredients, oneself and others.

Photo by Daniel Thistlethwaite

Carolyn Steel will discuss with participants our society’s profound disconnection with food and how acknowledging its central role in our lives can help to address a wide range of social problems. We live in a world shaped by food. Our cities and hinterlands were shaped by it. Our daily routines are structured by it. Our social exchanges revolve around it. Our survival depends on it, and our sense of identity is inseparable from it. Why, then, have we in the West come to consider food as just another commodity – something to be made as cheap and convenient as possible, while we get on with the ‘more important’ things in life? Our profound disconnection with food – our most vital necessity – is a wound at the heart of society. But if we understand food’s wide-ranging influence over us and our world, we can harness it, both as a philosophical tool with which to readdress our core social values, and as a conceptual and practical design tool with which to create new dwelling models, capable of addressing challenges such as resource depletion, food security, obesity and climate change.

The course will include talks by Ed and Carolyn in the mornings and some evenings, and afternoon sessions experimenting with different techniques in the kitchen and preparing food for the whole College community.


Beginning with The Tassajara Bread Book in 1970, Edward Espe Brown has been teaching and inspiring cooks and bakers to realize their capacity to nourish themselves and others with their labors in the kitchen. Ordained as a Zen priest by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi in 1971, he has led meditation retreats and cooking classes throughout the United States, as well as Austria, Germany, Spain, and England. His work and teaching is now the subject of a documentary film How to Cook Your Life, directed by Doris Doerrie. Many of the stories in the film also appear in The Complete Tassajara Cookbook (published by Shambhala, September, 2009).

Carolyn Steel is an award-winning architect, writer and lecturer. Her work has focused on the everyday lives of cities, particularly in relation to food. Her first book, Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives, won the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction. Carolyn was featured in a special edition of BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme in 2008 and was profiled by the Ecologist magazine as a ‘21st Century Visionary’.

Photo by Daniel Thistlethwaite

Course Fees

We are offering this course to you at the special price of £495 for all teaching, workshops, food and accommodation. This is over £250 less than our normal short-course price. Click here to book your place online, now.


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We will hold the place for five working days for reservations – three weeks before a course or earlier. After five days we will automatically offer your place to someone else if we have not received your application.

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Schumacher College is part of the Dartington Hall Trust, a company limited by guarantee, registered in England and as a charity (company no. 1485560, charity no. 279756). Registered office: The Elmhirst Centre, Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EL, United Kingdom