I pulled a can of diced tomatoes from the grocery shelf and tossed it in my cart. These are fine, right?
Yes. No? Uh…maybe?
You see, my family has a long history of canning tomatoes. Every September, we round up bushels of Romas and gather at my grandma’s. We quarter them with dull knives and a precision that would make a pro chef cringe. As juice runs over the table, we chat about school, work, and books we’re reading. By midday, the scent of simmering tomatoes has seeped into the walls, bound to this home for yet another year.
We employ techniques, and even tangible artifacts, left to us from previous generations who taught us how to turn heaps of pasty tomatoes into Sunday sauce. We bump up against each other—physically, generationally, politically—while working toward one shared purpose.
Once the final jar is sealed and tops begin to ‘pop,’ we sink into our chairs, bodies spent in that good kind of way, and twirl spaghetti coated in sauce that we made ourselves.
Do you ever feel like something’s missing?
Have you ever…
Gotten swept up in the fast-ness of life and skipped a beloved food tradition?
Felt paralyzed by the political, environmental, and social implications of your every food choice?
Yearned to make more tangible stuff with your own hands? (Bonus points if this yearning occurred while you were scrolling on a screen.)
Found yourself in an inspiration rut, despite the kitchen being your happy place?
You’re in good company.
These are symptoms of a great gastronomic disconnect – from the people, places and practices that nourish us.
Each time we break the lineage of wisdom about how to cook or eat, we lose a little about how to live. We carry this quiet burden of sadness, not noticing at first, but over time, an emptiness grows.* We still eat—abundantly and adventurously—yet we are less full, less richly connected. We run the risk of becoming rootless.
Heirloom Food Project was born to feed our need to be rooted. To collectively remember what would be devastating to forget.
I’m Gina, and I’m a food illustrator, storyteller, teacher. I inspire and equip home cooks like you to cultivate and pass down a resilient food culture – a precious family heirloom (pronounced ‘air-loom’) – onto the next generation.
Here’s what I serve up:
Ruminations on Big Food Questions: Eat in or out? To meat, or not to meat? Local or organic or biodynamic? (Hint: the answer often is that you already know how to nourish yourself.)
Practical tips and wisdom on the art of everyday home-cooking, so you can integrate more good food in your day-to-day life.
Custom illustrated recipes to help families carry on their food legacies.
These offerings can become a trickle of inspiration that grounds you, takes root in your kitchen rhythms. The tiny, unremarkable, imperfect steps you take will slowly strengthen the through-line along which culture travels.
It will sneak up on you. Before you realize, you can step back and take stock and feel more whole; the emptiness has filled. You feel a little more nourished, a little more connected. You are reaching for a glass jar of homemade tomato puree instead of that grocery story can. You are shepherding on a food culture – slowly, surely, steadily, lastingly. A legacy.
I very much hope you’ll join me.
Feedback from fellow food culture stewards:
“You've created something that leaves me curious, questioning, intrigued, and challenged, continually!”
“[You have the] unique ability to break down concepts into accessible tools.”
“[You have] an enthusiasm about…food culture, and the optimism that there is a way to create something as a collective that we are proud of.”
“Gina cares. It runs deep. There was passion there and it made me dig deeper into my relationship with food.”
P.S. Each month I send a Creative Food Inspiration email with a little art and a nugget of wisdom. I know our inboxes are disaster zones (at least, that’s how I lovingly refer to mine), so I try to write emails that make you say, “This is one of the few newsletters I actually read.” Add the inspiration to your food life using the button below.
*This concept comes from the work of Victor Lee Lewis in The Color of Fear.