Food – we eat it to stay alive. That logically means we should be putting things into our bodies that promote health. Our relationship with food should be transactional in nature: we eat in exchange for the right amount the calories, proteins, carbohydrates, nutrients, vitamins, and whatever else we derive from our food to sustain ourselves. Heck, it seems like scientists could simplify the whole process into a pill. What if we just had to take a pill to stay alive and it would keep us fit and healthy? Imagine the resources this would free up – more time and money to devote elsewhere and less overall impact on the environment.
But what fun is there in taking a pill? Indeed, eating is far more than a mere action we do to stay alive. It touches on art, emotions, culture, and just about every other aspect of life. Maybe since we have to do it, we have decided to make it interesting so it never gets monotonous! How else can you explain trends like using liquid nitrogen to cook or, rather, un-cook food? It’s gotten so crazy that eating certain things or at certain restaurants is now a sign of stature and class. Have you eaten at Alinea? No? Oh, you poor heathen! Food is no longer about survival, it’s social capital separating the cool from the not cool, the have’s from the have not’s.
Food with all of its gluttonous activities and addictions has become wildly perverse. How did eating – this act of sustaining life – get so full of itself? The food we eat should not be causing harm – not by adversely affecting our own health, not by damaging and polluting the environment, and certainly not by creating divides in our society. My hope is that the growing trend of eating local and tracing food back its roots on a nearby farm is a step toward a more egalitarian society. It is about wholesome food that nourishes us and promotes a link to the environment and to community. And promoting the well-being of people and the planet is far more interesting – and sustainable – than bragging about the hot, new restaurant you went to last night.