Disabled South Kilburn volunteer cook made 'sustainable and ethical food' ambassador for the UK
PUBLISHED: 18:53 14 October 2016 | UPDATED: 19:09 14 October 2016
A disabled kitchen volunteer in South Kilburn has been made a UK Ambassador for Slow Food - which promotes sustainable and ethical produce.
Dee Woods, 50, is one of the founders and a volunteer cook at the Granville Community Kitchen in Carlton Vale, which feeds some of the most vulnerable residents in the borough.
The Slow Food London Awards, from Slow Food UK (SFUK) is now in their fourth year and highlights the most sustainable, ethical and butchers, bakers, greengrocers and eateries within the M25.
The mum-of-two said: “That one was a shock, it still is, I didn’t expect that at all. It’s amazing for an ordinary person to be doing that. As an ambassador I can help preserve food cultures, not something processed. It’s about education, making good food accessible and support people who are food insecure, with dignity.”
Ms Woods has neurological problems which she says has no cure, and a damaged femoral nerve in her leg sustained when she tripped over a broom and fell, twisting her hip “which was funny at the time”.
Other memories include meeting Prince Charles at his home Highgrove House in Gloucestershire. She said: “He was funny, relaxed, it was good to see garden was shit, with weeds etc. You expect perfection but it was really that that endeared me. His kitchen garden was really, really good.”
Ms Woods was born in Ladbroke Grove but returned to Trinidad and Tobago with her parents in her teens. It was through them her formative experiences with food.
She said: “In England my parents used to make Caribbean meals with local ingredients. It was about telling stories, sharing stories. You spend a lot of time with elders and you hear them.”
She home-educated both her children, now 15 and 20, and two years ago set up the Granville Community Kitchen with her friend and fellow homeschooler Leslie Barson.
She is passionate about how food can empower people, particularly those who are disadvantaged and every Friday invites the community to eat her locally sourced meals at the Granville Road kitchen.
She said: “I like to tell people I’m an actionist, not an activist. I don’t sit and think the money will come, the resources will come, the people will come, I just do it. Life’s too short not to do anything.”
Shane Holland, chief executive of SFUK, said: “Dee is a long time Slow Food member, but encapsulates everything Slow Food is about in our motto of Good, Clean & Fair. She not only fights and campaigns for good food for all, she demonstrates how that can happen in a hands on way in her community. There could be no other contender for this award this year.