This blog piece is part of a series that explores the relationship between food, well-being and inclusion in the field. It focuses on 7 actual main meals that can be cooked in basic field conditions, as well as sides dishes and desserts. The key thing about these meals is that they are all vegan and gluten-free and Type2-friendly, and can be cooked in challenging conditions such as on a Dig. In other words, the Dig Cook doesn't have to be cooking lots of separate meals. It's a broad brush overview of what can be achieved, on a budget, to make sure that something that every participant in fieldwork has to do several times a day - eat - is not only physically sustaining them but also supporting their sense of well-being and belonging. It's also about making a rainbow of inclusive food that looks like you want to eat it and will be satisfied by it in a fieldwork setting.Read More
So the pre-Dig registration questionnaires are back. Someone in the supervisory team is collating the 'dietary needs' section. They've gone quiet; finally they mutter, 'So we've got thirty meats, five vegetarians, four vegans, three gluten-frees, someone's diabetic, and Alice on Small Finds says if we ever feed her beetroot again she won't be responsible for her actions'. The Dig Cook's thinking 'We're gonna need a bigger kitchen'. The Director's thinking, 'We just can't cater for that range of needs'. The bigger kitchen is rarely possible; and the latter is really sad, and it really happens.
But it is actually possible to perform a neat trick and to make decent meals on a dig or in a fieldwork setting that are vegetarian and vegan and gluten-free and compatible with eating plans recommended for people with Type 2 diabetes. And I think it is increasingly worth knowing how do this, as an inclusive response to that pre-Dig gathering of information through the registration process. In fact, it's food that everyone can enjoy and benefit from.Read More
I've never yet been on a dig where there wasn't at least one vegetarian or vegan. And there's always been a tedious ass-hat trying to wind them up - and that really needs to bite the dust. Volunteers and staff members on excavations are increasingly requesting vegetarian food, or vegan food, or - for medical reasons - food that is gluten-free, or lactose-free, or low in sugar. And good on them. People who choose to try to care for the planet in this way and look after their own health should be welcomed in my book, not excluded or derided.Read More
Dig food is dig fuel - never underestimate its importance for powering an excavation. If you're gesticulating at a massive Iron Age bank that you want to be quickly sectioned, and your workers aren't getting fed properly because they're supposedly 'fussy eaters' (e.g. vegetarian), that's not a dig - it's a shambles.
Of course conditions for cooking on digs can be difficult and cramped, with limited facilities and storage space - but it can be done, and done well. Everything pictured here was cooked in basic conditions, without food processing gadgets and measuring scales - and if you like the look of anything in a photo, the recipes are at the end of the page or they'll appear in my next blog post next week.Read More
Food is essential, food is emotional and food is political. I think that the dig director who doesn’t ‘get’ this is seriously missing a trick. It’s especially puzzling to me that there are archaeologists who can’t apparently see the connection between food, bodily autonomy and corporeality once they’re directing a dig. Food and cooking, and sharing in that process and caring about the results, are things that can bring people together – and very often a difficult fieldwork day can be made bearable through eating well and being in good company. It can be a therapeutic process. Food preparation can and should be about inclusion and not about ‘difficulty’. If well managed, food and cooking on digs can help to strip away the inaccessibility of the world (and attitudes) for many potential participants. It really isn’t that hard to do.Read More