A Note About This Feature: Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about. Currently, the focus is on food, cooking, and eating.
I have a lot to say about food and I am looking forward to doing so in the next several weeks in this particular series of Why Wednesdays. I thought it would be best to start by discussing why I think so much about food and why I feel it is such an important topic to explore (beyond the simple fact that I just love to eat, that is).
Food is fraught with implications and contradictions. Food can be political or personal. Utilitarian or indulgent. Hot or cold. Filling or meager. Shared or eaten in solitude. Bland or flavorful. Nutritious or harmful. You see what I mean?
Food is an enormously complex issue, but all too often that complexity is not given the consideration that it’s due. What we eat and how we eat it has deep impacts on health, economics and the environment. Plus, food is intricately connected to social status and political ideology.
But so very often we cook and eat without thinking about any of this. We eat unconsciously – in front of the television, at our desks, in our cars, running out the door, standing in the kitchen, etcetera. You’ve done this, right? I know I’ve certainly had my moments years of doing this. You get so busy you can’t remember if you ate lunch or you finish off a box of Cheez-Its while in front your computer screen, not even noticing the flavor, the crunch, the point at which you reach fullness.
Even when we sit down to eat an honest to goodness planned meal at a table, it is still unconscious in many ways. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that it’s probably pretty uncommon for people to consider how their food was prepared, how it is impacting their bodies, where it came from, if chemicals are on it or not, how it fits in to their budget, and so on.
Now, before you protest and begin to tell me how exhausting all that would be to consider all the time and that you just don’t have the time or that it doesn’t really make much of a difference anyway or whatever other arguments spring to your lips, just wait a minute, please. Take note that I am not going to say you must know the answers to each and every one of these questions in great detail every time you take a bite of food. But I will say that adopting a more conscious approach to these things in general will change the way you eat, the way you look at food, and will have huge impacts on your life (both short and long term).
I’m willing to bet that at some point or another, you’ve complained about your weight, lamented about the rising costs of groceries, been a bit confused about what it really means to be GMO or non-GMO, wondered why you didn’t feel full after eating a large meal, or been outraged when you’ve read an article about slave-like conditions of produce pickers.
These are just some of the issues that affect us all day in and day out. And, we can understand them more fully and we can make changes to them to better our bodies, our health, our communities, our environment, and our lives in general. We absolutely can.
But it takes thought. It takes consideration. It takes some education and some willingness to make some tough decisions about what and how you consume.
It also isn’t as difficult and time consuming as you may first think. Once you start to consider these issues, do a bit of research, and keep your eyes open, you’ll start to develop a base of knowledge and understanding that easily informs your food choices. You’ll know which stores you can (mostly) trust and which ones you can’t. You’ll have brands that you can feel good about buying and others you’ll steer clear of. You’ll know what foods nourish your body accordingly and which ones, well, just simply add to its volume.
I will write more specifically about these individual topics in the weeks to come, but to start, I am encouraging others to cook and eat with some thought and consideration. Ask questions (even if it’s just to yourself or to Google) about the food you eat and the way it’s grown or prepared. Ponder the flavors and feelings it gives you, rather than just consuming it, distracted by the goings on of life. Talk about food (and recipes and food production and nutrition and grocery inflation and all of it) with others.
In fact, I propose this: treat it like those classic tenets of journalism. Consider the who, what, when, where, why, and how of it. Get conscious in your food choices and really experience the act of eating. Try to consider it a little experiment. And, if it helps, go ahead and practice this experiment on cookies.
Cookies make research better.
To read the previous series in this column, select the ‘Why Wednesdays’ tag in the right side column. Prior series in this column include ‘Why I Run’ and ‘Why Creativity Counts’.