Making the Best of It: Dandelion
Potlucks at The Good Acre, 2017
Core Collaborators: Valentine Cadieux, Sarah Libertus
with Jim Bovino/Topos, Courtney Tchida, Tracey Deutsch
Commissioned by Northern and presented as part of Northern Spark, Climate Chaos | Climate Rising, 2016-2017, with the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Knight Foundation
Documentation from potlucks at The Good Acre, 2017
Click on images to enlarge.

All images courtesy Dan Marshall.

Many potlucks occurred over the course of the 2016-17 year at a variety of scales and venues. The final two meals were co-hosted by food scholar Tracey Deutsch (University of Minnesota), and took place at The Good Acre, a community food hub and teaching kitchen.
The invitation:
These Dandelion potlucks provide a community meal space to gather, share food, and explore key questions connecting food and climate change. They're a more informal chance to add to the meal story sharing toolkit that Making the Best of It has been cultivating.
We're invited to participate, bringing food or conversations that help us eat in the face of climate.
Along with their poster child of climate foods, the Dandelion (taraxacum officinale), artist-scholars Valentine Cadieux (Hamline) and Marina Zurkow (NYU) curate the courses and the event, working with us to combine questions or concepts or foods we suggest or bring into a meal. These ideas and foods get enacted in the form of a "course" of a meal (it could be an activity, a conversation, a toast . . .)
The connecting theme is how to "make the best of it" in an era of climate change and social dislocation. We will think expansively, imaginatively but also purposefully and materially, about food and climate change.

As a group we collected dandelions from the expansive fields adjacent to the University of Minnesota's agricultural study areas. We collectively cooked a variety of foods that addressed issues of global vs local food supply and focused on neglected and easily-found food resources. The core team offered several preparations of dandelions—notably as a pesto (leaves), a pickled gratin sauce (roots), and a fermented kvass (flowers).

The evenings were subtly framed as being hosted by dandelions, not humans. We suggested that this meal was a form of wake, or memorial for the human species. We gave structure to the evening by workshopping a group exercise: Each participant had a non-human role written on their placemat, We spent a few minutes to each write a brief toast to the human species from this non-human perspective.  These were then read aloud, and toasted with a sip of dandelion kvass.


From A Tornado

I wish to take this moment to extend
my sincere apologies for the role I
have played in your demise.
It was not my intention to destroy you
and your dwellings the times that I
did. I just get so upset; can’t
stop swirling. I’m stronger
than I wish sometimes.

I only exist in response to my relatives
in the atmosphere and the oceans --
I did not intend
to become more frequent nor more

If only you’d built more steady
If only you’d listened to your own
sonic warnings.
– Sarah Peters
From A silver carp
Well, I feel awkward
to have it imagined that
I should be speaking here
without my school.

So I want you to know
I swim with my sisters–many fishes,
many carps, including those common carp
Minnesotans were so excited about.
Do you know they welcomed some
in the reflecting pool at their Capitol monument
while they built electric coil dams
to keep others of us from immigrating?
So on this occasion of humans
shuffling off their mortal coil,
it seems like perhaps a good moment
to unthink fears of invasion.
– Valentine Cadieux
From An ear of corn
You left me roasting in the oven at 350º today
for too long, and today I left you roasting at
a temperature of an-additional-2º per-year on average.
Ears are the only “variety” left– there is no more nose, eye, or chin left alive, and even my toothy kernels are beginning to fall out.
You used to make paper dolls out of my husk, and now that’s all your skeleton is good for either–I hope to get out the old sewing machine to dress you for a memorial puppet show.
– Naomi Klionsky
From A House Cat
I can’t speak to all humans, but at least to the ones around me,
brood parasite -- cared for my kind more than other humans who looked different or lived far away
Had plenty, but never relaxed, and rarely shared -- Now
I’m not the sharing kind of cat, but I would relax more.
Poor kids, never got out.
Life won’t be that easy for me now.
– Siddharth Iyengar
From A lawn
This was always a dysfunctional relationship. I was needy, demanding.
Humans were fickle; one minute careful curators, another minute irresponsible vacationers, who left me unprotected.
I tried to leave many times.
No other place would have me.
New, of course, that’s over.
I miss the humans in spite of their failings.
And I welcome all of you.
Especially, at last, the dandelions.
From a Nematode
Dear humans, since before you were born I
inhabited the world beneath your feet. I have
infested and digested what you left behind,
and will continue to do so now that you are gone.
– Emily Stover


- Co-create intimate conversational space to discuss climate change in creative and playful ways

- Use familiar experiences (such as eating, meal-making, toasts) as platforms for unconventional approaches to understanding one's role in climate change

- Highlight neglected food sources that, in modest amounts, are freely available

- Use food sources such as dandelions to discuss connections between humans and other species, insides and outsides bodies (micro/macrobiomes)

- Connect participants to the way food systems work, and their possible problems in unstable or shifting climates