A beautiful sentiment for someone who grew up with the family motto “food is love.” Any celebrations garnered my grandmother’s shortribs, or my mom’s roast lemon chicken, her infamous salad, perhaps garlicky pasta garnished with fresh basil and roasted tomatoes from the farmer’s market…my mouth waters just thinking about it.
Tummy aches called for mashed bananas and peppermint tea with gingerale (back when it still had ginger in it), my mom put olive oil in our ears to combat earaches, and made fresh chicken soup (still the best I’ve ever tasted) when anyone had a cold or flu. We were not only comforted, but the tenderness and intention behind each lovingly prepared bite seemed to treat whatever our particular ailment was. It never struck me that we weren’t given medicine, just nourished differently, until very recently while reevaluating my eating and treatment habits.
As I’ve grown, and especially while working as a personal chef, creating meals for each of my clients and friends, I brought this same ethos to my craft. When I put love and joy into my food, it passed on to the experienced of the receiver with each mouthful.
Food is such a reciprocal sensation when you witness its consumption. I put my love and time and favorite flavors into a dish then the plate is received, presented; the visual stimulation of the colors, the taste, smell, and feel of it, the appreciation and enjoyment is a gift in return to me.
We put so much energy into sustaining our bodies, and when filled with positive vibrations we get so much pleasure and even healing from this nourishment. But today, instead of simply just the state of mind of the cook, we have to worry about the farmer, the land, and the production process of our food as well.
Things have clearly only gotten worse in the last 20 years, with 70% of our food supply containing GMO’s and 40% ending up in landfills, but I read a story from 2002 I think is important to revisit, as a testament to how bad things were even then, and how much more important it is to be aware now. This particular ordeal befell John Munsell, and I wanted to share a little bit about his experience dealing with one of the organizations that was instilled to protect our food systems, though it turns out is doing quite the opposite.
Mr. Munsell lives in Montana and had been operating his family’s meat processing plant they’d owned nearly 60 years. Prior to a 19 million pound recall of beef by the ConAgra corporation, he attempted to warn the USDA that there had been a contamination that could cause potentially life-threateningly illness from the E.Coli outbreak. This would normally be considered thoughtful, and considerate, as a concerned citizen and a responsible business owner, but Munsell was treated as quite the contrary. He responded to this corruption politely but adamantly stating,
“Due to politically motivated, self-serving and arbitrary practices by the USDA, I have been forced to list my business for sale… When I tried to report the truth of this tainted meat tragedy last summer, I learned the USDA is against the truth and for shielding the big guy from public embarrassment. The consumer and small producers like me are the losers in this game.”
Small businesses are constantly being beat out by the corporate strongholds these days. It is worse nowhere than in the food industry. The more conscious the consumer becomes the more opportunity provided for the purveyors at the farmers market, but the problem is conscious consumers are the vast minority.
John Munsell was trying to help. He spoke the truth in an attempt to save lives from potential harm, and he was punished for that. Not with a simple slap on the wrist, but the complete decommissioning of hisentire family’s livelihood.
This is why the dollars we spend at the supermarket are so important! There is a whole controversy right now about Whole Foods, and we’ll save that for another time, but even the stores we “trust” and have faith in, it turns out, are not standing up for us in the way we’d like to believe.
Farmer’s markets have become more than just the sustainable route, but imperative to maintaining health down from the cellular level. Small batches of product grown with love and positive intention taste sweeter, and feel better than anything made in a lab.
However, small-scale farms are not money making machines, and therefore not as highly favored as the cash cows pumping out poisonous, dirt-cheap food for the masses to consume.
The next time you’re getting ready to shop for dinner, I implore you to take a closer look at where your food is coming from. A lot of information can be found online about various grocery store sources, and hopefully more stores like the Daily Table will become the norm. The CEO of Trader Joes recently opened this new supermarket in a low-income area of Boston carrying food closer to its sell-by or expiration date that would otherwise be thrown out, at deeply discounted prices.
This is exactly the kind of project the world needs more of; someone taking the initiative to combat several different problems by creating one solution. Healthy food is expensive for the average American family, so Mcdonald’s is a much more accessible option. But with nearly half of the food produced in this country going to waste every day, this nonprofit is making a huge difference in the lives of that community and in the amount of resources expended when, contrary to popular delusion, there is a limited supply.
This is why farmer’s markets are the way to go. In order to fuel your body naturally, the chemicals and processing of packaged and GMO food, have to be eliminated. All that is safe to eat is fresh produce, preferably is seasonal to your area, and hopefully all organic. So much has changed since our grandparents learned to grow their own food.
Mindful eating is currently an uphill battle, but the more informed we become about what happens behind the closed doors that feed us, the more in control we are of the direction and evolution of our provisionary system.
No one else determines your diet, as adults we make all our own decisions in that regard. Sometimes I wax nostalgic for the days my mom decided what I had for breakfast and dinner and what went into my lunch for over a decade.
Your body is the vessel that carries you through space and experience. It is solely your responsibility how it is honored, and sustained. Every dollar (the paper representation of energy exchange) spent with a local farmer is one that misses getting passed through the corporate structure, and the more we show the system what matters to us, the more we will matter to the system.