It’s easy to overlook and undervalue our relationship with food. Modern methods of mass production has brought slick branding to factory made foods. What’s often sold now is the look of a product, rather than it’s qualities.
And when it comes to health a food’s quality counts a great deal. We consume it (see my blog about Chewing Well) and offer our body a chance to digest what we’ve chosen. How to choose what is just right for health, so that we thrive and get the most of our body?
In many cultures, where there isn’t an abundance of foods, the basics of grain and vegetable, supplemented with seasonal fruit and dairy, and the occasional meal of meat, is the basic (non) choice. You don’t hear about the Thai peasant diet, or the African autumn diet. There aren’t such things. They have the basics, if the season allows.
Yet, often we see cultures that have just the basics living the longest and having a high happiness (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Happiness_Report)
In modern life we have the curse of choice. Our human and impulsive natures often do us dis-service as, tired and hungry, we reach for the nearest convenience food. Often the low quality fats, high simple sugar and salt rich foods are all there are, nowadays. Yet, the key to health, as well as fresh air and clean water, is to not eat these.
How in modern life do we then thrive?
The threads of health are twined with culture, community, heredity and choice. But when you’ve driven 50 miles to work and back, banging in a ready meal to the microwave is all one has the energy for.
We have become detached from the communal aspect of food: Foods used to be grown by the community for the community. This has to be the biggest change away from health into the curse of choice. Gone are the days when we had to rely on a neighbour’s crop to exchange goods or services. No longer do we feel responsible to our neighbours as we no longer rely upon them. Nor they us.
Yet this faculty can and does breed a strong resilience amongst communal members. Pooling resources and skills is the best way to reach outcomes that favour ourselves. Modern culture teaches self-reliance as a priority. Families drift apart to work in different towns, cities, countries…and yet these family ties are a bonding of strength, unless toxic.
Eating as a family, or familiar community, is a unifying practice, if it is a healthy one. I go into what I consider to be healthy eating practices in my blog, and in my recipes. But, beyond the practical there is the connecting qualities of sharing: our days, our dreams, aspirations, failings, fears and resilience. We can find these in ourselves when we reach out to others, who may be on their own and who may not be grateful.
For those who do have a positive experience of sharing healthier home-cooked meals, I believe it’s here that strength grows and the roots of our potential suck the nourishment from the earth of our roots, metaphorically speaking.