I’ve blogged before about ethical issues concerning food, but this Blog Action Day, I’d just like to say a few words about how delightful food is. There are such a wonderful variety of tastes to choose from: earthy-sweet carrots, rich cream (or, for me, goat’s milk), nectar-like honey, warming chai. I’ve gotten to enjoy an even wider range of tastes since I’ve become a fan of tea and, more recently, a student of herbalism. Any day can be made better by a cup of tung ting, an oolong that tastes like spring, or the oceany gyokuro. Herbs might taste super-sweet like licorice, refreshing like lemon balm, or harshly bitter like hops, but they’re always interesting. Herbalist Guido Masé described Rhodiola as that herb that “tastes like roses and then sucks all the water out of your mouth.” I doubt you could fail to identify the taste of Rhodiola after that description!
Food is fun to taste and smell, but it’s also fun to chop and blend and knead – and buy. When I lived in Philadelphia, my favorite day of the week was Saturday. My boyfriend and I would walk up to the Headhouse Square farmer’s market. I’d buy basic veggies from the Amish farmer there, and heirloom tomatoes and other delightful things from the organic farm stand. Saturday’s market wasn’t as big as Sunday’s, but there was more opportunity to chat with the farmers, and maybe find out what could be done with that strange vegetable I didn’t know the name of. As a Vermonter, visiting the farmer’s market felt like a little bit of home. I’d always impulse-buy something that I hadn’t planned on – often kale, which I knew I didn’t like (at the time), but which is so gorgeously richly green I could rarely resist.
We’d tote our goods back home and I would usually spend the day cooking: Perhaps making a chili-inspired stew with fresh tomatoes and peppers, and maybe some sweet potatoes and kale. I might make some brown bread or stove-top pizza, too. Saturdays always seemed so satisfying, and I felt a lift in low-level anxiety that I always had in the city.
I think it was because of all of that basic, nourishing sensory stimulation. This week I read a blog entry over at Three Highlights that said, “Machinating is what we do when we let the mind spin with little more intention, flexibility, or creative openness other than to ‘get things done.’ It’s not the same as thinking. Or musing. Or imagining. Or creating. Or experiencing.” Since I spent a lot of time on the computer – and was missing my accustomed natural, low-concrete landscape – this was a real danger for me. But getting and making good food always lifted that cloud and got me back into experiencing and musing and creating.
So, I guess that’s another reason why I like to buy local, from the grower, and to buy whole food that takes a bit of preparation: I’m getting even more for my money. I’m not just getting calories, I’m getting nutrients, and tastes, and smells, and textures, and even conversations and friendships. I’m getting food for the body – and food for the soul.