I’ve decided to do a weekly post about food! I’m so fascinated with food and eating well (if you couldn’t have guessed already). From the seed to the table, each step it takes to bring each bite of food to my lips is gratifying in its own way. I think it might be a good practice to share my experiences with you all- as a way of documenting my progress (and my failures…), and also in the hopes that one of you might catch the foodie bug like I have and have some fun with it yourself. I figure some weeks I’ll focus on what we’re eating or what I’m working on, and some weeks it’ll be more "food theory". It’s amazing how philosophical one can become when thinking about what’s for dinner!
Jeff is reading this book right now called "Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work". We talked about it a bit the other day, and his description of it really resonated with me. I think once he’s done I might have to read it. Basically the book seemed to be about how we’ve lost the art of our trades, and as a result we’ve lost some of our connection to physical reality. In losing connection with physical reality, we damage our spiritual ties to certain aspects of the real world. I could illustrate this in a number of ways, but I think food is a great example of the truth of this theory.
It wasn’t that long ago that each of us had a connection to what we ate. We knew when food was in season, what conditions it took to grow it properly, how to keep healthy animals, how to rotate crops for soil health, how to save and store seeds for the next year, etc. We knew how to preserve food for the winter, how to prepare our meals from scratch, how to ration food when it was scarce, and how to appreciate the wealth of food that was only available during certain times of year. As silly as this sounds- there’s a spiritual connection there. I started a small garden a few years ago only to wake up one day and find that the hands-on dirty work of it all had transformed me. The closer I got to my food, the more of a relationship it forged. The more of a relationship I had with it, the more I cared about every piece of the puzzle- where the food comes from, its quality, the quality of my health, all of it. It just made sense to respect it. Whether or not companies like Monsanto are doing away with seed diversity matters to me now. If something is convenient but rooted in cruelty (and not even good for me), why would I choose it? Now I see the ways in which our mindless eating has really hurt us. Sometimes I’ll hear a comment about the work involved in dealing with food in this way. I struggle to gracefully deal with comments like this, because it’s clear to me that I now have a fundamentally different perspective than most people I know. It’s not all about my benefit anymore. I’m in a relationship. So this way of eating takes a little work and thought… so what? That’s what it takes. Losing our relationship to the things that help to sustain us- losing our view of the process of it all… well, it really does damage. We don’t care about what we can’t relate to, and if we can’t relate to the things that we need, where does that leave us?
I’ll always remember the story of my brother- the pickiest eater in the family. He would routinely whine and complain and refuse to eat what was served, and it drove us all crazy. He would especially protest when it came to vegetables or fish. One year my mom dug up a small portion of our yard and split it into four sections, one for each kid. We each chose what to plant and helped to care for the little garden, and we all had fun. One day at dinner, my mom announced that some vegetable (I wish I remembered which one, but it was one that my brother HATED) came from his garden. He gobbled it up like it was his favorite thing in the world. We were all sort of annoyed by him, but that image has been burned in my brain as a result. Now it makes sense to me. He had forged that sacred bond- the bond that tied him to what sustained him. Regardless of whether or not he actually liked the taste didn’t really matter in that moment. He was grateful for the food, and proud of it, and that was enough for him (one of the stubbornest people I know) to enjoy it.
I want many things for the future. One of the things I want the most is for people to have the experience that my brother did that day, on a larger scale. I want us to reconnect with our physical world, and get to know ourselves a little better in the process.