We All Eat Food! - a manifesto and permission to explore
We all eat food. This is a basic concept that many do not think about on a daily basis. Whether or not you do consider it can be based on individual circumstances. Scarcity, culture, how you are raised all affect the dynamic you have with food. But fact still stands that we all eat food, with free access.
This may end at this statement, but what fascinates me, as a culinarian, a chef, and an educator, is the complexity of this idea. WE ALL EAT FOOD. Temporarily setting aside for a moment the lack of food resources in many places in the world, which can be a whole conversation in and of itself, for the purpose of understanding, let’s talk about what this means.
For starters, if you are a financially secure individual and are fulfilling your basic needs, you are eating 2- 3 meals, sometimes 4-5 meals per day (snacks included). This means that you are actively ingesting food on a regular basis. While a good percentage of people don’t think about it more than just filling their stomachs, there has been a pattern of growth in people who pay attention to what they eat. Some focus on changing their consumption for health concerns, others for health optimization, and still others for weight loss or prevention. To these people that do pay attention to what they eat, you may be curious about this intriguing topic.
Eating to eat is common, it is a physical need in all situations. Some simply don’t care how they eat, how the food tastes, and what it does for their bodies or for the environment. But I know more and more people are becoming mindful of the foods they eat in one, if not many, of these aspects of eating. I truly believe that it is a good thing. I also believe that many times when people don’t care, it is because they are not necessarily aware of how food can affect everything. One of my many goals in life is to shine a light on these aspects, so people can come from a place of knowing and understanding and be more willing to make conscious choices in what and how they eat.
Food is such a basic need for life; all living things need food. We consume to function and keep fueling our bodies. Food also has a greater level of necessity; it helps our mental clarity, our emotional regulation, and how easily we can get sick or recover. Food is the funnel to movement and how we move physically and mentally through our lives. It can affect decisions we make which have a huge impact on every aspect of our lives.
We may be eating based on preference of taste as well. We eat what we like the taste of. Picky eaters stick to things that fit their comforts, while adventurous eaters thrive on the exploration of new flavors and textures. We enjoy foods because they bring us comfort. Food can make us feel safe, soothed from pain, and help us forge connections to other people or evoke memories. All of this is connected to the taste and how each type of food makes us feel when we eat.
These tastes and preferences are also markers of culture. You eat what is a part of your community’s shared traditions and your unique cultural background. The typical American family eats fast food because it is plentiful - it is an integral part of the culture: fast, simple, uncomplicated flavors, grab and go, moving on with the rest of the fast-paced life. In Spain, on the other hand, the ‘siesta’ is based around taking two hours for lunch and resting halfway through the day. Everything is closed, and if you want food, you eat at home! Most Spanish foods focus on many small plates with varied flavors and textures. These are just two examples of how culture goes in tandem with the foods we consume and what tastes and preferences we choose in our foods.
Although culture may cause some people to see or even create a division with the differences in specific preferences, we all still eat food! Food can unite us if we are open to it. Sharing a meal seated at a table is an opportunity for connection among people from many walks of life, within a family or with friends and neighbors. Shared meals are connections that open our hearts and allow us the time and space to have conversation, and hopefully bring us closer. As we chew each bite, we are allowed to be mindful of others and listen to others’ opinions. It opens the door to understanding. We may have our cultural backgrounds, but we have a global connection - we all eat food!
My final point on this subject comes back to the analysis. “We all eat food”, binds all living things, is a universal need, an emotional conductor, a cultural exploration, and a global connector. Food makes us who we are inside and out. Hopefully this exploration of the subject gives you the permission to be more mindful of its effects on you and others. I hope that this will allow you to explore the role it has in your life!