What does food mean to you?
Contrary to the heading, I’m really not trying to get super philosophical, complicated, or over the top, but it is really interesting to me how we decide to sustain ourselves, and I think it’s worth talking about. Everything we eat and drink is a vote for how we see the world. Food means so many different things to everyone on earth. From my perspective, as a culture, we’re mostly concerned with food as fuel and if it’s delicious, which are both real and valid reasons to consume the things we do.
But there’s so much more to it than that. Food is community. Food is family. Food is personal. Food is emotional. Food is a journey. Food is culture. Food is tradition, values, and beliefs. Food is health. Food is history. Food is the present and the future. Food is work. Food is economy. Food is politics.
Take, for instance, where you shop for groceries. Do you source most of your food from the local farmers market every weekend without fail or do you frequent the Sam’s Club downtown? Maybe you do both. But every time you make a purchase, you are supporting a system. And it may not even be what you really WANT to do, but it’s the basic fact of what you can afford, which is also something to consider. This is not the first time someone has pointed out the correlation of less expensive food comprising a less than an ideal diet, and it certainly won’t be the last. Organic and sustainable are buzz words that often come with a higher price. Either in currency or time spent growing your own.
Now, how do you decide what you eat? Maybe your mom used to make some totally ah-mazing pasta and sauce every Saturday afternoon and you’re really craving it. “Who isn’t in the mood for some ravioli?” you ask yourself as you ring your Mama on the way to the store. She sends you a photo of a “recipe” scribbled on an index card that your great-grandmother gave her 25 years ago. Do you make your ravioli from scratch and let years of Italian tradition flow through your bones as you roll out those pasta rounds? Or do you pick up a package of pre-made pasta and a jar of sauce by the same brand in the refrigerated section of the most convenient grocery store on your route home from work? Or are you just too tired to cook AT ALL and order delivery from the closest chain pizza shop?
All of these decisions say SO much about why we eat what we do, even though cliché examples are abundant here. I have a series of posts coming together about the different ways that food reflects who we are and the future we are driving with our choices.