Where does your food come from?
Hello my friends! I hope today finds you comfortable and full of gratitude. I am thinking about food today. I am full of humility and gratitude as I thank God for the birds that we slaughtered today. I found myself in a spiral of thought about food. Specifically our relationship with our food. I wonder how much the world would change if people still had to slaughter their own food?
This isn’t the first time the notion has crossed my mind. It started with the garden. I started out as a whim gardener. I had lots of houseplants, I really loved growing stuff. I lived in a small rent controlled apartment and the best I could hope for when I started was a small windowsill herb garden. Each year my passion for growing food grew. It grew into an obsession. I went from buying the cheapest seeds and soil I could find, to an understanding of why I want to grow heirloom vegetables and the importance of quality soil. I discovered the variety that heirlooms offer, as well as sustainability. I discovered square foot gardening and lasagna gardening and raised bed gardening. I discovered how much better food grown in a garden tastes than the options available in our mainstreamed food system. I finally figured out why vegetables in the store taste so bland!
As I was learning about all this gardening business, I was also making a good friend with his own organic sustainable farm. Some of my favorite days are the ones we get to go to the goat farm. While there we are often blessed to be able to pick up some fresh eggs, unpasteurized milk, and butter. Delightful heavy cream butter. Some days he has so much milk that we get to bring enough home to make our own butter. A real treat! I learned how much differently my body responds to fresh food. To eggs straight from the coop, to fresh that day milk. I quickly saw and tasted the difference in all of these products, but what surprised me even more was the difference in how my body responded. No rumbling tummy from the eggs or dairy. No bloating or needing to run to the restroom after eating the eggs or drinking the milk. As a matter of fact. No fog, no bog. I actually could eat these foods and still feel good afterwards.
The best part though, is meeting the animals. Seeing the life they live. Knowing that they were raised happy and having met them, pet their heads, learned their names, I developed a relationship with my food. It is astounding how that changes you. The humility and gratitude that goes into seeing the life that provided your next meal. In knowing its name. My milk came from a cow with a name. My eggs came from the best lifestyle a chicken could hope for. That smoked goat? I knew his mom. If you have experience with having a relationship with your food, I am sure you understand this. As I talked with friends from the city today, and saw their response to the notion we were slaughtering our food, so many things occurred to me. One told me she would starve if she had to kill her own food. One told me she didn’t like cooking, it was too much work.
I have made no secret of the fact that I recently discovered that I have Celiac disease. I have done immeasurable research into gluten and of course that led me to a whole new world of trying to understand highly refined processed food. It is astounding to try to have a conversation with someone who does not have any education about highly refined foods. I remember being one of those people. The same eye rolls, and reasons why I could never eat a healthy, unrefined diet. Oh I wish I had listened sooner! The things I have learned would turn you off the grocery stores forever. Even organic vegetables run the risk of being contaminated with gluten, because it is used in organic pesticides. And if you take five minutes to do a quick perusal about gluten, you will never see food the same again. Plain and simple, it is easy information to find, the refined, mass produced food system that feeds our mainstream is toxic.
I find that the general population doesn’t want to know why watermelon doesn’t taste as good as it did twenty years ago. Why you can only buy orange carrots. Why all tomatoes are red. People don’t want to know that their boxed instant meals are killing them. People have no idea how bad bread smells once you quit eating it. Multiple people have referred to the smell of fresh baked bread. Little do they know that they are conditioned to enjoy that smell because they are addicted to the food. Break the addiction and it is actually a fairly repulsive odor. I can barely stand the bread aisle without gagging some days, and going into a fast food place that bakes their own bread is absolutely repulsive. Worse than the bread aisle. A smell I once thought I would die without, I now do everything in my power to avoid. When I first went gluten free, I tried hard to replace my breads. What I have found is that without the gluten, I actually don’t like bread, and it takes up so much space in my belly that I waste room for the good fresh foods I am trying to eat with it. I just don’t want bread anymore. Not even on my hamburgers. When I do find myself craving a little bread type product, crackers fill the need. The fluffier it is, the less I seem to enjoy it anymore.
So, what is your relationship with your food? The question presents itself in a day and age when society is struggling to find unity. A time when blessings are taken for granted and healthy food is a burdensome task. As I humbly thanked God for the lives of these birds this morning, I found myself wondering what would happen to society if we were all more connected to our food. What if we had to see the life drain out of its eyes? What if we had to count on the weather for our winter stores? What if we had to work with our neighbors to ensure that everyone in the community ate that day? What if we traded goat milk for eggs? And what if we had to barter with our neighbors for goods they produced and we didn’t? What if we had to survive a winter with meager pickings because it was a hot dry summer, or because a late season hail storm came through? What if we couldn’t just pop a frozen pizza in the oven and had to cook all of our food? What would happen to the dynamics of family, and community? Be honest, how many of you feel compelled to pray for your food each night? And how do you think that would change if you were responsible for the life that was feeding you? What if you had to give those chickens their scraps every morning, and build fences to keep the predators out while still allowing them ample play space? What if you had to go to sleep on a frigid cold night thinking about whether your animals were warm enough or not? Would this change your perspective of your food, and your neighbors? Would you take less for granted? Would you feel humility smack you in the face each day? What would it do to societies overall sense of entitlement, to not be able to turn up your nose and say “Cooking is too much work”? How would long hours in the sun weeding the garden, and long hot fall days canning vegetables and jam in the kitchen, change the way you see your food?
Somewhere deep in my heart, I have a notion that having a relationship with our food again would change everything. That we would have a whole new outlook on life, that we would choose different battles, and find ourselves with a whole new perspective. I believe it would increase our humility and gratitude. I think it would change our societies and communities, and I think we might see people get healthy again. This one simple notion, that you can, and possibly even should, have a relationship with your food, holds so many implications that I think it could change the downward spiral we are seeing in our world. I think it would change people to the core of who they are. I think it would strengthen communities and relationships. I think it would increase empathy and I think those are just a couple of the profound impacts. The health implications are huge. Food is meant to nourish you, not poison you. Imagine the breakthrough in both physical and mental health if we changed how we think about food as a whole. Finances would change, status would shift. The world would become unrecognizable compared to the world we live in today. Just imagine, what a relationship with your food could do in your heart and spirit, and then multiply it the world over. The changes we would see are remarkable to even fantasize at.
I hope I have left you thinking about food. Specifically, your relationship with food. I hope this rambling inspires you to think about what you are eating, and how it is affecting you. If you make one small change today, you will be surprised how different your diet looks in five years. baby steps. You cant change it all overnight. But one small change today will lead you to profound changes down the road. Today, I leave these words with hopes that you too want to find humility and gratitude and a healthy relationship with your nourishment. God bless, my friends! Until next time.