The theme for this year’s Festival of Faiths, which concluded on Saturday, was years in the making, but event organizer Sarah Reed Harris said the timing could not have been better given the recent focus on the treatment of women.
“We have been thinking about a feminine wisdom festival for several years, before the #MeToo movement, before the women’s marches, before the election. It was already kind of bubbling up that we wanted to have this conversation and then the timing was just perfect,” Reed Harris said.
“What we really wanted to do is offer that conversation through a lens that is more sacred,” she added. “It’s not an anthropological or political view of gender, but really it is about the psyche and the soul, and culturally, do we access our feminine side in proportion to the masculine side?”
Throughout the festival, Reed Harris said, attendees learned and talked about ways people should be tapping into the feminine side to be healthier and more whole humans.
Whether or not someone identifies with a particular religion, “We like to think that people still want to know what’s sacred in life and what is meaningful in life, and what we try to do is unpack these treasures from all of our faith traditions and represent them in a way that is more relevant, more contextual and more alive,” Reed Harris said.
As part of the emphasis on the feminine, the Festival of Faiths this year started hosting cocktail receptions and after-hours events that celebrated accomplished women.
“Culturally, society has stopped seeing and valuing the contributions of the feminine, and it’s not that the contributions aren’t there; it’s that we don’t recognize it, we don’t honor it, we don’t value it,” Reed Harris said. “That is what we are trying to do.”
On Friday, the cocktail reception highlighted the food of the chef Loreal Gavin, aka the Butcher Babe, who said feminine traits helped create a better kitchen environment.
“I feel like it’s more of a feminine trait to be caring and motherly, and I feel like when you bring those motherly traits into a kitchen, not only are you a graceful leader but you also can be empathetic towards your crew that you have,” she said.
Gavin told the crowd at the Festival of Faiths’ reception that her next cookbook would not only provide recipes but also look at the metaphysical aspects of food.
“I think metaphysically that I can take my love and my passion and inspiration through amazing organic vegetables, whole foods and I can actually create an experience for you, for your eyes to your heart to your stomach to your soul,” Gavin said, adding that the future is in the holistic arts.
Serotonin is mainly produced in the digestive tract, she noted, and eating the right foods can help that.
“It’s really easy to make things taste good with bacon and butter and bourbon, and I love all those things, but they definitely should be treated in moderations,” Gavin said. “A plant-based diet is the most healthy form of diet in my opinion and is better for the environment.”
Although she preaches the benefits of consuming a mostly plant-based diet — a dichotomy for someone who’s called the Butcher Babe — Gavin, who describes herself as Julia Child meets Peggy Bundy, said that moniker still fits.
“I can butcher people’s expectations,” Gavin said, adding: “I think it’s unrealistic to suggest that we live in a world where no one eats meat, I’m not suggesting that. I’m saying that it should be done in moderation and with sensitivity, meaning that you should take the time to invest whatever amount of time it takes to find sources of meat that have been sustainably and ethically raised and not to moan and complain about why it costs twice as much.”