And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart:
Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons.”
Food holds a special place in my heart (and stomach). To me, a meal can be an almost holy experience. I especially feel this way when I prepare the food myself. There’s something about the process of selecting the main players and then incorporating seasonings and textures and colors to produce the finished product that I can’t get enough of. I also truly believe that fresh, local, and organic foods taste better. They just do. They even look better – grab a tomato from your local bargain grocery store, then grab an in-season local heirloom tomato, cut them both in half and tell me which one you would rather eat.
I’m often surprised by how casually some people approach food, and how much junk they’re willing to put into their bodies. Eating well is not as hard as we’re led to believe, especially considering the explosion of literature produced on the topic over the last few years. From Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma to Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food by Wendell Berry, authors from all over are espousing real food over processed foods.
The sad part is that no one should have had to tell us that real food is better than processed food. Yes, butter > margarine, sugar > aspartame, and fresh > freeze-dried. This should be clear to anyone paying attention to what’s going into their mouth. Humans are lucky to have an incredible senses of taste. Some can pick out the vintage of a wine or the origin of a coffee bean just by tasting them, and if the rest of us tapped into these talents, we would know that real lemonade tastes better than Minute Maid, and that a Filet-O-Fish pales in comparison to a properly cooked and seasoned homemade filet.
There are those of you who are nodding your heads – you already know this. You’re already on the bandwagon. Lately a newer, and some would say even more extreme, group of foodies have emerged. These people not only tell you to get local organic food, they tell you to prepare it yourself, and harvest it yourself. Why? What’s the point? Well, if you have ever gone on a camping trip and caught a fish only to cook it over the campfire, or if you have ever collected berries along a trail side as a welcome snack, or even if you have grown your own vegetables in a garden, then you know that there is no sweeter treat than one you have provided for yourself.
When you pick a tomato from your garden, grab an egg from under a chicken, find a stand of wild apple trees, or pluck your own muscles from the salty shoals, you are participating in the ecosystem. You become part of the food-chain, and it feels better than you would think. There is a great sense of satiation and pride associated with finding your own meal. Also, these foods are often some of the healthiest things you can put in your body, and as fresh as you could hope for.
Over the next year I hope to garner as much of my food from natural and wild sources as I can. It might not be much at first, but at least I’ll start to learn new skills and eat healthier than I would otherwise. The food I can’t provide for myself will be as fresh and local and organic as I can manage. Through gardening, foraging, fishing, hunting, and bartering, I’ll see how much food I can take care of myself.