With Thanksgiving approaching and my trips to the grocery store increasing, I’ve been thinking about how connected we are (or aren’t) to our food.
In my Facebook feed I have friends from many different stages of my life, and those people form an interesting patchwork. Some are highly educated, others are not, some are quite politically conservative, others are extremely liberal. I have friends of different faiths, and friends who don’t indentify themselves as any faith at all. There are young and old and in between, gay and straight and who knows what else, and a variety of ethnicities represented in my daily feed, and I respect and care about all of them. They are my community. They are my tribe.
In a group that diverse, it’s no surprise that there are differing points of view on just about everything, right down to the way we nourish our bodies. After all, isn’t that what food boils down to? Simply put, it’s our fuel.
I heard a random statistic on the radio that stated that 91% of Americans will eat turkey on Thanksgiving. Naturally that means that 9% won’t. Immediately I thought about vegetarians, and figured they were most of the 9%, but then I rethought it. I’m sure there are those with health issues that prevent them from eating turkey, and I’m also sure that there are plenty of people without the means to provide a turkey. My conception of the 9% expanded greatly with just a moment’s reflection.
Then, as I thought more about Thanksgiving dinner, I considered the various food related posts I see everyday on Facebook. I have friends who are masterful chefs (including those who are actually paid for that talent) and others who rely on fast food more than anyone really ought to. There are those who shop in gourmet markets, and those who grow some or most of their own produce. And of course, there are the lucky ones who have the privilege of shopping at Wegman’s, but that’s a post for another day.
I wondered if there were reasons why some people seem to be so intimately linked to the foods they eat and others seem to have so much distance from them. I mean, if I hunted my own meat I would be extremely aware of where it came from, but if I buy it at the grocery store I don’t give it as much thought, and if it comes served to me in a restaurant I’ve even more disconnected from the source. I think that each step away from the source that we take, the more tenuous our connection becomes to our food.
I also think that if I were in charge of providing my own food I wouldn’t eat so much or be so taste driven. If I had to grow or kill everything I put in my mouth I would pause before eating my whole supply. I would have been one skinny pilgrim. I would also choke down foods that I currently dislike, rather than go hungry. Like my Weight Watchers leader says, if a can of green beans will fix it, you’re truly hungry. I would be munching on kale and cabbage, nibbling cauliflower and cucumbers. Veggies would be my friends.
As things stand, I have to remind myself to eat fresh produce, and I have to battle the urge to fill my mouth and belly with processed foods that I know hold no nutritional value for me. I’m trying to simplify my life, and I think I need to start with my food.