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Karin Kloosterman Headshot

A Movable Feast for Food Activists?

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The center of my family's life has always been the kitchen. It's where our friends meet and greet, where we have family meetings, and of course eat; it's usually the place where we have the best fights. Globally, the kitchen is recognized as the heart of the family and the community, even after the electric or gas stove replaced the wood-burning hearth. I've talked to founders of start up companies from those building electric engines, to those coding new learning software that have started cooking their ideas in the kitchen. The kitchen is where I now do most of my work. So, too, have revolutions been known to have started in kitchens, and I propose a new way to make more revolutions happen in the urban environment with mobile kitchens.

Social activists from America to Lebanon see food as a means for creating social equality. Americans are crazy about the 100 Mile Diet, using the dinner plate and fork as a means to support local agriculture, and to curb greenhouse emissions caused by long-distance hauls. Americans also love the concept of urban gardens, with some like Daryl Hannah fighting for the preservation of them, when encroached upon by new urban development. As recently as last week, "guerilla" protestors -- basically any local that wants to be part of a loosely organized protest -- were asked to start picnics in any tiny green space around Beirut, as a means to protest the lock and key on the city's only major green space.

I've learned that food can be eaten, admonished, thrown on someone or boycotted in superstores as a way to protest a political, environmental, cultural or political event. Gandhi did it best.

But what's missing in a big way in all the food-related revolutions, meets, and protests is the kitchen. While tents are easy to pop up and down as a means for rest, the idea of a mobile kitchen for the everyman seems to have not progressed much since the American camping hibachi and gas barbecue. Mobile kitchens as chip stands, or burrito restaurants can be custom-made. But what about a kitchen that we take with us on picnics? Something that doesn't just cook by charring? This way we can cook healthy food on the go, invite in the communities around us on our travels to come and dine, to share new secrets and recipes, and be guerilla about picnicking or eating wherever we roam.

I went online to see what I could find. Besides needing the obvious fuel source like a diesel generator (as featured on this U.S. site) or if you are lucky a power hookup, a good mobile kitchen needs to have a sink, a water tank, some good pots and pans, storage space for spices and supplies, as well as a space for storing perishables. One that can open and unfold with seating space for friends, when camping, in the park, or at the urban garden, is best.

If you head on over to eBay you'll find some cheesy RV related mobile kitchens, or ones more suited for selling pogo sticks at an outdoor carnival.

But the more designed-inclined are looking to their latest favorite raw material, the shipping container, to create mobile kitchens that I would happily park in my back yard. Check out Steel Space as a unique venue for creating eye-catching mobile kitchens. It's an open, airy and friend-friendly space that invites users into it to sit, cook, and be part of the culinary action.

And in a way that only Europeans can invent is this roving hospitality station Mobile Gasfreundschaft for entertaining friends, followers and friendly food activists on sidewalks, at the beach or anywhere the traditional stationary kitchen won't work. I bet Jamie Oliver and food activists everywhere would be happy to power up with one of those.