Saturday, December 27, 2008

final musings

I've been putting off writing this post. I expected an epiphany, some sort of life changing realization, but nothing quite so remarkable happened and despite my waiting for it to happen, has still not dawned on me. I expected to fail and to then have a platform to write a nasty, political diatribe. Except I didn't exactly fail or at least didn't fail in exactly the way I expected.

I thought I would reconsider my food spending. I expected to notice that lettuce is available for $1.00 a head instead of $3.49 and be struck by my wastefulness, but instead, I am now more committed to the value of beautiful sustainable produce - the value of knee-melting butter lettuces, the farmland and farmers that the purchase supports, and the taste, and what taste codes for, the nutrition of food that knows its terroir.

We ate all the vegetables that we were expected to eat, and yet, did not feel nourished. S. wondered if our over-eating, the constant return to the nutritionally empty white bread, was an age-old, evolutionary trick to keep us eating, keep us searching for the nutrients we were missing. A commercially grown carrot is reared in dead soil and supplemented with simplified fertilizers. While we technically ate the servings we needed, those servings are not identical to a carrot pulled from your backyard or the well-managed soil of your local small farmer. Our bodies knew the difference. More than anything, the week gave us a new understanding of the tight coupling of poverty and obesity and an empathy for those who must choose between a societal command to eat less and their body's constant yearning for more food, for real food, for nutrition that simply cannot be satisfied with factory food.

So I leave the challenge feeling deeply thankful. Thankful that I have the resources to reach for milk from grass-fed cows and apples from a local orchard. Thankful to pay the difference and feel the difference in my body. Thankful for the farmers who must work so much harder to keep their soil alive, and by doing so, the vegetables, fruit, milk, and animals rich with the earth and the resources it carries.

I also leave feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about food security, and in that way, I think the week proved its worth. It seems when I know the answer, when I am judgmental and see the solution as clear and self-evident, then I have not understood. It is when the question becomes amorphous, when multiple answers seem plausible, and when each path sparks uncertainty rather than increased clarity, then maybe, I am getting warmer. As a country, we have come unglued from food. We don't know where our food was plucked from the ground or who pulled it up. We don't know how to cook it and allow others to decide for us how our food is prepared. We don't know what the animals, who we eat, ate. What we do know is how much it cost, and because we know so little else, we have come to use that quantifier as the sole marker by which to choose. I spent the week putting things into my body based on a single qualification - that they be worth little. And my body protested. When I am in a crowd now, I see how all of our bodies are protesting. I suppose by spending a week during which food could not be valued, I have come to value it more.

Be well. Eat well. Share.


Ms Hen said...

I've been eating mainly Organic the last 6 weeks or so.

I then had a lot of food that is not organic since I have to clear out my pantry and regular size Freezer.

I felt more YUCKY the last couple of it my imagination??

After reading this post..... I feel that maybe what you are saying is right; the nutrition is just not the same in non-organic food.

I do not also eat enough veggies/fruits.. but I'm forcing myself to do so a bit more now.

I'm more into the yummy organic rices and beans; and cheese products. I'm trying to drink my organic juice and add veggies to my diet more and more....

Thanks for this post.. thank you for doing this blog.. it is so helpful.

Tracey said...

>we have come unglued from food

I couldn't agree more. Food is really the basis of life, and to become so separated from that is to become separated from life. I feel that disjoint is responsible or greatly worsens many of the neuroses we see around us. To me, that's the biggest tragedy of factory farming.

However, I feel hopeful that this economic recession, as bad as it is, could actually positively influence people to grow their own food, and perhaps reprioritize. Even though quality food costs, I feel like people are moving away from conspicuous displays of wealth and towards something more meaningful.