“Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you what you are.” -Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Our diet is our life- it is the fuel that makes your days what they are. It is remarkable how few people understand this as evidenced by standing on line at any grocery store. The number of food items that are sold in mass proportion that have almost no food in them is mind boggling. Even my kids, who have been mostly brought up on real food, remark at the garbage that sustains most of their friends. In fact, studies have repeatedly shown how changing one’s diet, changes your mind.
Michael Pollen’s statement sums up the degree to which we have lost our connection to real food and how the experience of nourishment has been hijacked by the over abundance of convenience foods that fill us up but don’t feed us. “As a culture we seem to have arrived at a place where whatever native wisdom we may once have possessed about eating has been replaced by confusion and anxiety. Somehow this most elemental of activities- figuring out what to eat- has come to require a remarkable amount of expert help. How did we ever get to a point where we need investigative journalists to tell us where our food comes from and nutritionists to determine the dinner menu?”
Our confusion with our relationship to food exists on many levels. Nourishment is a community experience and few of us respect the time and ritual that is involved in preparing and eating meals together. Here again, studies inform us how a regular family dinner hour impacts everything from learning capacity to obesity tendencies. Connecting the dots between how we consume our food and sharing the gift of plenty are basic to our relationship to food. Not only does the food that we eat on the run, not satisfy us, but by removing the ritual of food sharing we lose sight of the essence of eating, which is health and wholeness.
Hippocrates said: “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.” The nutrition and vitamins that the body integrates through whole food far surpasses the encapsulated versions of vitamins and supplements that has grown into a multi- billion dollar industry. It isn’t that vitamins are bad, it is that we believe that if we take vitamins, that we won’t feel the effects of poor food choices. It isn’t true.
Beyond all the other good reasons to stop your day and nourish yourself is that there is no more profound connect we have to the world. Wendell Berry, the famous naturalist and author said it best when he wrote, ” Eating with the fullest pleasure- pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance- is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.” There is no more basic positive relationship we can make with our world than through what we consume.