May 22nd, 2014 | Simcha Weinstein | Comments Off on The Love of Food
Eating has become complicated. It even gives us anxiety. There’s obesity, eating disorders, is our food healthy, safe, how was it grown, were the animals raised humanely, and are there GMO’s lurking about? There are too many questions with every bite. And it’s not as if posing these questions is unreasonable. Our food system creates more questions than there are answers. But it is important for our long-term well being to reclaim the joy of eating.
Nature has provided us with an amazing amount of food – rich in flavor, diversity, and nutrients, and with each bite we should celebrate, we should delight in what amazing sustenance we are blessed with. And most importantly, we should share this delight with others. Aside from nutrition, perhaps the greatest gift of food is community – sharing with others, breaking bread with family, friends, and loved ones. The conversation, the flow of ideas, the exchange of warm glances, the laughter, and the acknowledgement of love, are all active ingredients in our food. They don’t get tossed with the salad or heated with the casserole, but they are as important to the meal as the natural ingredients that make up every dish.
It’s easy to become attached to our dietary preferences – they’re important to us, as they should be. Striving for a healthy, balanced diet is indeed important for a happy balanced life. But whatever our eating preferences, they should be inclusive – and they should build community.
What I’ve learned from my own personal dietary journey (which at times can narrow in on a smaller range of foods than many would choose) is that when I’m breaking bread with someone and sharing a meal, I really don’t want the attention to be on what I’m willing to eat or not eat. I want my focus to be on enjoying the company I am with. To that end, I find that when I’m out to eat, I typically choose whatever looks good on the menu, and draw no attention to my meal selection. Similarly, if someone prepares a meal for me, I put no restrictions on what they should prepare. I adhere to the philosophy that when someone prepares a meal for you, the main ingredient truly is love and kindness and generosity. With this approach, our labels no longer bind us. We are not vegans, vegetarians, raw-foodists (all of which are wonderful, healthy ways to eat). What we become at the moment we share our passion and joy for the abundance of nature with another, is we become “Lifetarians”. And for Lifetarians (a made up label, by the way) a critical ingredient that must be present at every meal is love, and sharing, and joy. When someone prepares food for you, they tend to prepare what they do best and what they enjoy making. You get the very best of what they can do. If you limit their creativity and imagination by proclaiming your food preferences (allergies aside), then you have altered the entire project from something that they love, to often just another task for them, losing the wonderful benefits of having food prepared with love and joy and celebration.
Our meals are much larger than simply ingesting food as a composite of varied ingredients. Eating is about creating and enjoying an experience – an experience that carries with it the potential for far greater health and well-being than with any pure food we could ever ingest.
It really is all about the love… and joy. Try some with your next meal.