Respect the food!
There is a popular modern slogan that was in part birthed by the slow food crowd. “Farm to Table.” It comes close in describing how we should view food and nutrition. For such an important part of our lives and health, we “farm out” much of the process and products to strangers.
We should be advocates for knowing where our food comes from. If not our own gardens (even herb gardens on the kitchen window sill), then community gardens, farmer’s markets, or community supported agriculture (CSA) ventures. You say that those things don’t exist close to you? And yet we’ll drive thirty miles to the mall for a special purchase or as entertainment. The reason they don’t exist in great numbers is because we haven’t asked for them.
I’m all for small and slow solutions, and since these types of services take time to implement, let’s start asking for them now. It may even be a business opportunity for you; learning the skills now that will allow you to buy land and tools and begin building a clientele.
Something else that we have lost, or are in the process of losing, is the meal time rituals that have been a part of our cultures since time immemorial. The act of planning a meal, getting the ingredients, preparing them, cooking, sharing the food around a table with family and friends is something to be celebrated, not despised. I’m sure that some of your fondest memories are of dinner table conversations. I know some of mine are.
The same people who say that they don’t have time to cook are the same people who sit for an hour with a buzzer in their hand, waiting for a restaurant table. We’re like that when we’re on auto-pilot. One needent slow cook a pot roast for every meal. There are many simple meals with whole food ingredients that can be prepared and served in half an hour completely from scratch. I urge you to give it a try. In doing so, you could also be teaching yourself and even your children and friends a valuable life skill. There are many teens who don’t know a single simple recipe beyond boiling ramen and microwaving pre-packaged faux-food.
Getting into the dinner routine is a simple act of the will, where it isn’t one person’s responsibility to set the table, prepare food, cook, and do dishes. When everyone pitches in and spends time together throughout the process, everything gets done quickly. This is an opportunity for everyone to interact, laugh and talk.
Later, we’ll get into ways that you can get involved locally to promote a more regional food economy, but for now, consider the above. At the least, at every meal, do your best to recreate the food ritual. Meals aren’t only for nutrition, they’re a social act and we should do our part to keep that alive. Don’t eat alone if you can help it, always try to have a healthy meal with friends and conversation.