There is nothing to eat,
seek it where you will,
but the body of the Lord.
The blessed plants
and the sea, yield it
to the imaginationintact.–William Carlos Williams
But finding pleasure in our food need not be a hedonistic exercise. We have talked together for the past few weeks about cultivating a life of simplicity and generosity within the crumbling structures of an economy that urges us to fix it by buying more stuff. And we have seen that only leads to more restlessness and dissatisfaction. Finding pleasure in our food, like finding pleasure in our earnings, has to do with avoiding the trap of mindlessness participation.
The recent movie, Food, Inc, works on the premise that most of us know nothing about the food industrial complex upon which we depend. It works because when we find out what it is really like, we are shocked by the brutality, overwhelmed by the size and scope of the industry, and dismayed by our cog-in-the-wheel mentality towards it.
Like handling our money, we can find pleasure in our food by following a few simple guidelines, and we don’t even have to be farmers.
First — let us be mindful. Let us remember, as Sir Albert Howard put it in his classic on farming, The Soil and Health, that we cannot talk about health of body, without talking about the health of soil, plant and animal, as “one great subject.” We escape the trap of unhealthy, unpleasurable food that is foisted upon us in the food industrial complex when we simply remember that we are but a part in the great chain of life, and that our eating, because we eat of the “Lord’s body,” is a moment of worship.
Second — learn about the origins of the food you eat.
Third — prepare your own food. This may mean learning new skills or re-kindling old ones. Eating out is a delight, but the average American eats 4.2 commercially prepared meals per week, according to Meal Consumption Behavior – 2000, a recent report by the National Restaurant Association. It’s bad for our bodies, it builds stress, and separates you from a time or rest and reconnection. To prepare your own food will slow you down and reconnect you with your food and the with whom you people you share it.
Finally, do things that connect you with the soil and ground out of which our food comes. If you can’t have a little garden to grow a few basic vegetables, perhaps you could compost. See this website for information on a new business in town which will help you compost.
Above all, enjoy eating! Or, as the psalmist says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good!”
May your holiday be filled with the pleasures of good food and good company!