Bringing Food Home
Food has been a life-changer for me. The first big shift was not a result of eating a particular food, but from reading a book about food, namely Diet For a Small Planet, by Frances Moore Lappé. The second time when food sent me on a new course was gulping down two helpings of bland, pale scrambled eggs at my mother’s house, which mysteriously triggered a food addiction that lasted several years and launched me on a quest to free myself from addiction. That search became a journey to find my true self and God. (Read Bicycling Home, My Journey to Find God for the recounting of my quest and the happy ending.)
The topic of food seems to fall into three areas of exploration: the politics of food, food for the spirit and sensual food. Here is a brief look at each.
THE POLITICS OF FOOD
I read Diet For a Small Planet in 1975 when I was 26. The book shines light on all aspects of food, but what was a startling eye-opener was about how our food is produced. Lappé described and documented the enormous inefficiency, waste and ecological destruction of the meat-based Western diet, a diet that many other cultures now aspire to. The most striking of many facts is that it takes 16 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef. This diet is now untenable, unsustainable, and even bordering on criminal because of its waste of land, water and energy, destruction of natural habitat, and contribution to food scarcity, poverty and global warming. Climate change demands that we also look at where our food comes from: is it locally grown or has it been shipped thousands of miles from its source? I try to buy locally but I have to confess that one of my favorite of all foods is Atlantic Salmon—from Norway. I imagine nearby catfish and trout will be the future fish in my diet.
Lappé and Joseph Collins have just published a definitive work on world hunger entitled World Hunger: 10 Myths. For example, Myth #1 is “Too Little Food, Too Many People:” Myth #6, “The Free Market Can End Hunger.” These books, and many others, give us all we need to change to a more plant-based diet, and enjoy it too.
FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT
We feed our minds and spirits every bit as much as we feed our bodies. Are the thoughts, the information and images we take in all day long nourishing for us? Are they toxic or cause us indigestion? Apparently, neuroscience can now demonstrate the brain has a negative bias; it prefers to constellate around negative, fearful or problematic situations. I have to say that’s true for me, though I do my best to fill my mental plate with positive food. It’s almost impossible to watch network news without getting depressed. That’s why we need to get a balanced diet of information, and especially take in a generous helping of positive news, which is one reason I subscribe to The Optimist Daily and YES! magazine. I want to know what’s going on in the world but I want to give my energy to people who are upbeat and who are working on positive solutions rather than dwelling on bad news and what doesn’t work.
Lent is now with us and people are encouraged to give up something for Lent to emulate the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting and sparring with the Devil. I find it far easier to give up a particular food, like chocolate, than to give up a particular habit. For the record, this Lent I am giving up inner whining and complaining about what doesn’t suit or please me, or what’s inconvenient. But as I said, it’s easier to give up chocolate; I gave up the same complaining bit last year for Lent.
Now let’s get on to the topic of tasty, wonderful, savory food we love. I’ve had fun asking friends what they would order for a last meal. My farrier would have Elk Wellington (tenderloin of elk wrapped in puff pastry). One friend would have “tacos, tacos, tacos!” stuffed with black beans and veggies. Another would fast to keep his mind clear. Makes sense, but I would strive for a clear mind and also unquestionably order that favorite Norwegian Salmon and maybe Tiramisu for dessert. Or how about Cornish Game Hens with traditional stuffing followed by apple pie?
Whatever your favorite dish, I offer our favorite cookie recipe for dessert:
The 129-Calorie Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookie.
Please enjoy, and just think, two cookies are only 258 calories!
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