Board of Contributors: How to have a love affair ... with food
T he following observations could lead you down a path of endless pleasure, joy and bliss. Life can be renewed and happiness can be recaptured.
Sound like a love affair?
I hope so! But first, let’s visit the market where most of us procure our food.
As a country and culture, we have lost our connection to what we eat.
Walk into any large supermarket and the first thing we see are bouquets of brilliantly colored flowers that are not seen in nature. There are blues and reds and pinks that look like innocent young blossoms with make-up on.
And they do not smell at all.
Next we enter the produce section. Fruits and vegetables abound.
They are artfully stacked and glisten from their constant showers. But they do not smell like food. Touch some produce and the skin feels waxy and hard. Other items cannot be touched at all because they are packaged.
Meats are equally protected and encased. My favorite is the absorbent diaper between the meat and the Styrofoam tray that takes care of any “discharge” from the product itself. No odor here either.
And then we move up and down the aisles trying to hunt and gather other food items. Most are processed and well concealed in their wraps. The real food items are around the perimeter of the store while the center is filled with too many choices of chips and beer, household items and even party favors. Convenient one-stop shopping for sure, but are we in love yet?
The food we chose to eat nourishes and sustains us. It grows our bodies and brains. It keeps all systems working and in good repair. Simply put, food is what gives us life.
When a baby is born, his or her sight limit is about 20 inches – or the distance from the nursing baby to the mother’s face. The baby is born to engage mom to feed him or her. And so the journey begins. As the child grows, the world is tasted and tried with an open mouth. Toddlers know how to eat their environment. Somehow we seem to have forgotten how to honor this urge to respond to the sensory allure of food.
Smell is what attracts us. If you have had the pleasure of shopping at an open market, the odor of fresh or even overripe food draws us in. This is not the food museum of a Whole Foods market, where I am afraid to touch the stack of apples out of fear of causing a collapse.
But pull a carrot out of the ground and wipe it on your pants. Then bite.
There’s nothing like that sweet burst of flavor. Or try peas, broccoli, cabbage and squash. If you don’t have a garden, make friends with someone who does. Bring a card table and a chair or two, and set up dinner right at the source. The love affair will begin immediately, I guarantee.
The desire to physically connect with the object of our affection is basic.
I applaud the farmers markets, CSAs and community gardens that are bringing us closer to the source. We need to open our eyes, ears and noses to that which nourishes.
The best of social times have always been celebrated with food. We eat together to share the joy of community and the pure pleasure of food.
Is this not the best of bliss?
(Susan Koerber of Dunbarton is the retired founding director of the nonprofit Woodside School in Concord.)