The Fat of the Land – Saturday 3 October, London

// 28 August 2009

fotl.gifIf you’re looking for a Harvest festival celebration this year in London, The Fat of the Land sounds good:

London’s fat queers and their pals are coming together to challenge the greed of the diet industry and body fascism within the gay community by producing a food festival that celebrates body diversity.

The Fat of the Land: A Queer Chub Harvest Festival is a DIY food fest, synthesizing interest in slow food, recession-busting, sustainable food, ‘make-and-do’ and craft culture with a fat queer sensibility. It is intended as a secular fat queerifying of a traditional harvest gathering, and the organizers positively welcome multicultural interpretations of the theme.

The Fat of the Land is child friendly and open to people of all sizes and sexualities.

It will feature:

  • Activities: crafting, traditional games, competitions for best jam, best chutney, best cake, best produce, best vegetable monster and more
  • Stalls, refreshments, and information about Health At Every Size
  • Art: Allyson Mitchell’s grotto will be open for visits
  • Evening Performance: including a group rendition of The Fat Queer Harvest Hymn, written especially for the event, and special surprise act by Chopin Gard

    Visitors are encouraged to bring along a tin of unwanted food to be donated to a prominent diet guru – the respondent will be chosen on the day.

    Co-organiser and fat queer activist Charlotte Cooper explains: “We see The Fat of the Land as a celebration of the abundance of harvest time and our connection to the rhythms of nature and creativity, albeit executed in our own idiosyncratic, outsider, warped, prankish, punk, 21st century, Wicker Man style.

    “It is a defiant celebration of abundance and plenty amidst a ‘healthy living’ agenda in the UK that is often reductionist, fatphobic and mean, and is thus health-enhancing for people of all sizes.”


    fotl2.gifThe Fat of the Land: A Queer Chub Harvest Festival

    Saturday 3 October 2009

    St Anne’s, 55 Dean Street, Soho, London.

    This is an accessible venue.

    £5/£2.50 concessions.

    2-5pm stalls and activities

    5-6pm competition judging

    6-8pm performances

    3 October 2009 is the weekend of this year’s Harvest Moon.

    We are seeking volunteers.

    The Fat of The Land is being principally organised by Charlotte Cooper, and Naz Jamal and Jason Elvis Barker of The Queer Institute. It has been made possible by a Small Projects Across the Land loan by NOLOSE, the US organisation for fat dykes and their allies.

    The Fat of the Land seeks to capitalise on the success of the Chubsters event at the 2009 London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, which witnessed a fierce outpouring of fat-queer activism in the UK and a hunger expressed by many of the participants for more events of such a nature.

  • Photo and logo by Jason Elvis Barker

    Comments From You

    saranga // Posted 28 August 2009 at 3:41 pm

    oh oh I do hope they send the food to Gillian McKeith!

    Waste not want not! // Posted 28 August 2009 at 11:34 pm

    I understand the point that the organisers are trying to make by donating surplus food to “diet gurus”, but I can’t condone the plan. It’s likely that this food will simply end up joining the several million tonnes of food that we in the UK waste annually – a figure which reveals our blasé attitude towards food privilege. Why not simply send these “diet gurus” photos of everybody enjoying the food at the festival instead?

    Alternatively, the organisers could set up a food exchange; the festival goers could bring a (non-perishable) item of food which they associate with a feeling of plenty, and these items could then be randomly re-distributed amongst those participating. I think it would be a lovely idea if it could be organised (sort of like children’s party bags) as not only would this dovetail nicely with the concept of plenty/generosity, but people would be taken out of their culinary comfort zones and introduced to a stranger’s idea of plenty.

    Personally, I’d probably bring mint humbugs. I know that it’s a strange choice but I associate them with breaking the hungry monotony of long, childhood car journeys (when they were the only sustenance available). In fact, I can’t really ever remember a time when I couldn’t reach into either my mum’s (or my own) coat pocket and draw out a fat, striped humbug, exhaling a faint mintiness through its crackling cellophane wrapper, and pop it into my waiting mouth. For me, plenty is mint humbugs, and lots of them.

    Anyone else care to share?

    Laurel Dearing // Posted 29 August 2009 at 2:21 pm

    agreed. since school, harvest festival was about donating food to poorer countries or people that couldnt afford it. in comparison it seems a bit of a waste to send it just to provoke people to make a point. TV would have just found another diet guru anyway.

    bacchus // Posted 30 August 2009 at 12:05 am

    Surely we should be reducing carbon emissions by eating less, rather than celebrating overeating and wanton bodily excess?

    aimee // Posted 30 August 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Saranga, that’s exactly what i thought! Please send it to Gillian Mckeith Ph (not quite) d.

    Kristin // Posted 1 September 2009 at 1:08 pm

    “Wicker man style”? Does that mean they’ll be burning someone alive?! Yeah, very idiosyncratic and prankish.

    Why don’t they give some food to starving people in Africa? Harvest time was about being grateful for what you’d managed to grow and gather after a hell of a lot of backbreaking work, and storing what you’d grown/produced for the coming winter months. It wasn’t about people gorging themselves in wild abandon and being ‘defiant’.

    Mimi // Posted 3 September 2009 at 12:02 am

    Where is Naomi Wolf when you need her? OK, so we have to put these 2 “minority” groups together in order to publicly promote an event. It’s not acceptable in the main stream to be queer or fat, so they have to go it together in order to be recognized as serious. It’s abnormal to be anything not looking like or aspiring to look like a Barbie Doll, eh?

    Kez // Posted 3 September 2009 at 10:18 am

    Maybe (OK, make that “probably”) I’m missing the point here, but I don’t get this “sending food to diet gurus” business. What is it supposed to achieve? I may well be missing the point but the only reason for it I can see is as a kind of “up yours, we’re fat and we don’t care” gesture, which I really can’t see having the slightest effect on Gillian McKeith and her ilk. Much as I deplore McKeith & co, I’m sure they are well aware that not everyone shares their views on nutrition and weight. If anyone can explain to me what this gesture is meant to achieve, I would appreciate it.

    To be honest I also find this whole idea of “celebrating abundance”, whether it’s in a warped and prankish way or otherwise, a bit insensitive in a world where many people, both at home and abroad, have a daily struggle to feed themselves and their families adequately.

    Jess McCabe // Posted 3 September 2009 at 11:35 am

    @Mimi, Without wanting to speak for the organisers, I think you’re kind of missing the point. It’s not that they’ve bundled together the two unrelated issues in order to increase seriousness, it’s that the event comes from an intersectional queer fat activism. If you look at the info on the event, it’s been set up to challenge “greed of the diet industry and body fascism within the gay community by producing a food festival that celebrates body diversity”.

    Mimi // Posted 3 September 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Anything for publicity. Half of what we see out there doesn’t make sense. (Kez) I agree that it’s a waste of an event when it could be used to promote something that could be beneficial for those in need. From what I see, most groups of any kind just want to be able to do what they want when they want it.

    RadFemHedonist // Posted 4 September 2009 at 10:39 am

    By the “people are starving so don’t have a food festival” logic we shouldn’t have LGBT Pride as long as there are attacks on LGBT people motivated by prejudice against them, plus there are food festivals everyday where many go and eat loads of delicious food, the only reason this one is getting picked on is because it doesn’t pretend everyone’s here for one healthy size portion. I don’t see anything wrong with celebrating having lots of food, and I’m sick of the fat-shaming comments on this thread, I eat a lot of food and that doesn’t make me a bad person, there are people who are thin who put a lot less thought into what impact the production of their food has on people, other animals and the planet. I like the idea of celebrating individual ideas of plenty that Waste not want not! suggested BTW.

    Kez // Posted 4 September 2009 at 12:03 pm

    RadFemHedonist: “By the “people are starving so don’t have a food festival” logic we shouldn’t have LGBT Pride as long as there are attacks on LGBT people motivated by prejudice against them.”

    I don’t see the logic of this comparison, can you explain further? How are the two situations comparable? The fact that LGTB people suffer from prejudice and discrimination is all the more reason to celebrate pride, but I don’t see how that translates to “other people are starving, therefore we should celebrate the fact that we personally aren’t”. Anyway, I’m not really saying there shouldn’t be a food festival. I just found the idea of “celebrating abundance” a little jarring.

    I haven’t seen fat-shaming comments on this thread, what are you referring to exactly?

    Polly // Posted 4 September 2009 at 2:23 pm

    fat shaming comments?

    How about Bacchus?

    “Surely we should be reducing carbon emissions by eating less, rather than celebrating overeating and wanton bodily excess?”

    sounds pretty fat shaming to me.

    And Kristin…

    “It wasn’t about people gorging themselves in wild abandon”

    polly // Posted 4 September 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Also re waste – the blurb above does say the event features sustainable food.

    I don’t think celebrating enjoying food (because food is nice!) is somehow an insult to those who don’t have enough food. It isn’t as if the organisers are saying “look at us we’ve got all this food, ner ner ne ner ner”. If people want to have a go at food waste how about starting with the supermarkets who throw huge amounts of perfectly edible food away?

    Kez // Posted 4 September 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Of course there’s nothing wrong with enjoying food or celebrating the enjoyment of food. I enjoy food. Sometimes I even overindulge in it, though I do tend to feel ill afterwards. I just found “It is a defiant celebration of abundance and plenty” a little bit jarring, that’s all.

    It was mainly the sending-a-tin-to-a-diet-guru stunt which I questioned. Now that does sound wasteful, and pointless, and like an ill-thought-out PR stunt.

    Jess McCabe // Posted 4 September 2009 at 3:42 pm

    I do sympathise with concerns over wasting food by sending it to diet gurus. I also sympathise with the point the organisers are trying to make, though!

    Also, Britons throw away a third of all food grown for human consumption in this country. Not a reason to add to the problem, but the diet industry has a tangible negative effect on millions of people too! It’s not a “defiant celebration of abundance” with no reason behind it, it’s meant to directly address attempts to make people (particularly women) feel guilty for eating, or attaching negative judgements to eating (if I had a penny for every time I heard a woman say she was “bad” for eating something… and we all know that has nothing to do with issues of unjust food distribution!)

    And, yes, let’s not use the food waste issue to fat shame please!

    Kez // Posted 4 September 2009 at 4:26 pm

    What point ARE they trying to make by sending food to diet gurus, though? – that’s the bit I genuinely don’t get. I don’t see what they are hoping to achieve with that. Please someone explain!

    If it’s just, hey, diet gurus, we don’t like you and your promotion of society’s obsession with what people eat and weigh and look like, and we want you to know that not everybody buys into it… well, (a) I suspect McKeith et al already do know that not everyone shares their views, and (b) how is sending them food meant to make this point, anyway? Send them a letter, or a photograph of all the people at the festival enjoying non-McKeith-endorsed food – but to ask people to donate food and then send it to her (or whoever) in a big box? Why?

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