During my grad school symposium, I catered and hosted lunch. I am a food snob, yes, but more importantly, I find magic in food. Food is central to our survival. It is also a medium to build community as well as health. Food can either be beautiful magic or dreadful sickness. The choice is ultimately yours. How do you view the food you consume? Do you even think about it, or do you just inhale it?
For me food is more than just sustenance. It is a means of transcendence. I love to create new things with limited resources. I am probably the most creative in the kitchen. I love to discover new foods, and to share them with friends and neighbors makes me happy. I love spending time chopping and cooking, but I really love trying to figure out what to do with some foreign food item. I just had amaranth for the first time last weekend. It was superb and filling. This week it is adzuki beans.
For me the magic happens during the process, for others it may happen when they take their first bite. I know for certain that eating with friends makes it better, but also learning to shut off the television and turn down the music makes it almost meditative. Do you ever sit in silence and think about where the food came from? Do you wonder how the farms that produced your food actually farmed it? Do you think about how much your forkprint is? (Forkprint: from TogoWare: how much carbon is used by your food preparation and consumption.) I think about these things everytime I eat. I am hyperaware of these ideals.
I am so aware that I went to Grad School to understand our food system and how it can be reinvented. What I truly believe will change the system, is if every single American thought about their food at least once a day. Many people meditate during yoga or during some point of the day, but not many meditate over their food. If you refuse to buy clothing from a sweatshop, then why would you buy cheap food where the farmers and farm workers are not paid an appropriate compensation for their labors? If you feel that illegal immigration is destroying our country, then why would you support a food system that forces those immigrants to seek work on our side of the border? The whole system is screwed up. We as consumers have the ability to recreate it, but we first have to understand why and how it got to the messy state it is currently in.
If we are not willing to think about our food and pay a fair market price, then we really do not care about the health of our land, animals, farmers or even ourselves. We have a huge obesity problem right now. We can all stand back and point fingers at those that are currently obese and blame them, but four fingers are pointing back at us. It is because we the consumers have allowed our government to subsidize cheap commodity foods. These foods are then processed to the point our bodies cannot even recognize them, and chemically reorganized and put on the shelves in pretty boxes and bags. In the end we allow for processed food to be purchased by families on food stamps. If the government were to subsidize say, local farmer’s markets and fresh produce, the prices would likely come down to affordable and then poor families could buy and make real food.
Until, we the people, demand this from our government, the health crisis in this nation and other blossoming nations will continue on the road of demise. Our healthcare system looks at band-aiding the symptoms rather than solving the causes. For many with type two diabetes, a strict and controlled diet along with moderate exercise could ultimately reverse the symptoms and possibly cure the cause. We do not focus on this, because there is no money to be had in reversing diseases. As long as millions of people are dependent on pharmaceuticals, there will be no cure, not even research into a cure.
I see this as my mission. If we are ever to change the system we must speak up and we must consider our food and the sources of our food. As a vegetarian, I am probably more aware simply because I do not want to consume unwanted meat. As a human we all should be super aware. Do we want the food we consume to destroy the world, or do we want it to nourish it? It can be changed, it should be changed and we are the ones that can change it, the choice is yours. So the next time you eat, sit down and ask yourself, where did this come from, how did it get to my table, and did the people who farmed/processed it do so from a perspective of health or profit?