Grace Cathedral is the eponymous "cathedral on a hill" in San Francisco. It's located on Nob Hill, and many of us have been there to see the beautiful Keith Haring altar at the AIDS Chapel, or to walk the labyrinth inside the church.
What I didn't know until recently is that Grace Cathedral hosts a Forum program each week before the Sunday service, and that the program is often focused on current news makers or people of interest.
The Forum, which is available in a podcast archive, often focuses on food issues and I have enjoyed the past season of speakers for that reason. It's a worthwhile podcast to subscribe to even if you pick and choose which speakers pertain to your interests.
In October, I went to Grace Cathedral to hear Dr. Jane Goodall speak. While Goodall is known foremost as a champion of animals and a teacher of the ways of primates, she is also an advocate for conscious eating and published a book called Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating. At the Forum, Dr. Goodall spoke to the importance of food choices in the overall health of the planet, and I found her message challenging and inspiring at the same time. Dr. Goodall implored the audience to become vegetarian or at least eat free-range meat, saying "It's not widely known the extent to which the intensive farming of animals is damaging the environment. People don't want to know about the suffering and the cruelty that goes on within the intensive farms. "
A month or two later, Mollie Katzen visited the Forum. Katzen is the author of the Moosewood Cookbook and one of the founders of the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York. She writes about vegetarian cooking and is credited with helping make vegetarianism a mainstream eating practice. Her interview was compelling due to her ties to the Bay Area, and the fact that she's a great speaker. Surprisingly, Katzen is not a strict vegetarian. She eats some meat, but her cooking is inspired by a fierce love for all things vegetable.
Last week, Michael Pollan visited The Forum. He is currently on book tour for his new book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. This was an informative hour, and it serves as an excellent overview of his book and his outlook on eating.
As an aside, my friend and colleague Bonnie Powell of Ethicurean will be interviewing Michael Pollan in a Slow Food event in Vacaville on February 7. You can find more information on the Ethicurean site.
The Grace Cathedral Forum schedule can be found on the cathedral website. You can attend the forum sessions in person for free on Sundays or can download them from the Internet. You can also listen over the Internet in real-time and email your questions to the moderator.