Let’s take a trip
Think back in your past. What is the best food that you have eaten in your life? What stands out in your memory?
For me, my favorite meals have always been made with food that I had a connection with. That could mean I grew the vegetables, hunted or raised the animal, picked the fruit or berries for the dessert or personally knew the person who did these things. What about you? Have you ever eaten a sweeter carrot or tomato than one that you picked from your very own garden?
I have eaten many meals in restaurants in my life that were delicious. Some have even been better tasting than my favorite meals. But I don’t remember them the way that I remember my favorites. The meals at restaurants were impersonal. What they lacked was a personal connection, a story that was attached to the food itself.
Why is this?
It may seem an insignificant thing, but where your food comes from really matters. When you have that connection to the food you’re eating, you know the effort it took to prepare, the care involved in producing or harvesting it. It becomes important to you, instead of something to simply fill your stomach until you have to eat again. It also feels shameful if any gets wasted because you know what it took to put that food in front of you.
When’s the last time you felt that way about food from the grocery store? That bag of carrots that went bad in the back of your fridge? Or the chicken that got freezer burnt? It definitely annoyed you that you wasted your money, but if you are like most people, you didn’t give any thought to the wasted energy of those who produced the food or the wasted life of the chicken.
That doesn’t prove that we are bad or guilty people. It proves that we are disconnected from our food, therefore it doesn’t matter much to us. We can always buy more.
If I’m so disconnected, what’s really happening with food production?
Many companies try to reproduce this connection with their marketing. Pictures are displayed of idyllic farms on their packaging and labeled with words that are supposed to invoke feelings of nature and wholesomeness or memories of a better time. They use words like “free run”, “free range”, “cruelty free”, “no added hormones”, and a person is led to believe that the animals in question are living good lives.
Are they? Are these happy animals? Do you know this? I don’t. I really don’t know. I have my opinions, my beliefs based on information I have read, been told, or videos I have been shown. My belief is that the system of food production today is unnatural, unhealthy, and at times downright unethical. But that is just conjecture.
What I cannot tell you is that I know first hand about the treatment of any animals in the conventional food system. I’ve never been inside a commercial chicken house or commercial pig operation. I’ve never been on the kill floor of a slaughterhouse. And that is precisely the point I am trying to make.
Unless you have been actively involved in the production of your food, or are personally connected to those that produce it for you, you don’t fully understand what it took for you to eat. You may know intellectually, but not intrinsically. The only way for you to truly appreciate your food is to know the story behind it. And not just the words of the story. You need the experience.
So grow something yourself, even if it’s just a tomato plant in a pot on your balcony. Go to a local farm and buy from the farmer! Reclaim your connection to food.