Earlier today, while meandering around on Facebook, I ran across a question posted on DanielleLaPorte.com that instantly intrigued me: what do you want to revolutionize?
It’s actually something I’ve thought about a lot. For a very long time.
In high school, I went away to study. Questions, others’ opinions on topics I’d never thought about before, and new experiences swirled about in my adolescent head – sometimes conflicting, but mostly creating a fuller and more-nuanced picture of the complex world we live in.
I came back a bit more cautious, a bit more critical, and a lot more interested in doing something – anything – to make a difference.
Back then, I’d say my concept of revolution was one of making change for its own sake.
Today, I have a much clearer concept of the revolution I want to be a part of and my role in it.
I want to revolutionize the relationship that we have with food. And I hope to do this through my writing, teaching, and the food tours that I lead, as well as my work with food-centered organizations. I am motivated by the following ideas:
Understanding where our food comes from can be life-changing. I once worked with kids from the city that believed their food came in boxes, bags, and cans from the grocery store. Period. Full-stop. They had no understanding of the concept of fresh, of how food grows, or of any of the steps that led up to their food making its way to the store where their parents bought it. So when they grew vegetables and tried them for the first time, everything suddenly changed. Food was no longer just a thing from a can, it was a ripe cherry tomato that they had grown with their own tiny hands and which tasted of sunshine and love. I only hope it had a lasting impression and that each of us has such opportunities to understand source – whether growing something in a pot in the kitchen window or meeting our meat, so to speak, by visiting a local farm.
Foods create sensory experiences unlike anything else. I love to watch the wind blow through the corn fields, to eat sweet cherries that turn my tongue purple, to slice into a head of red cabbage and see the maze of color it hides inside, to hear the sound of a bean pod pop when opened, and to smell a lovingly prepared meal cooking. From taste and smell to color and appearance, nature’s bounty offers an amazing palette. And, putting these ingredients together is kitchen artistry that we can enjoy whether we have the ability of a finger painter or of a master painter.
Local foods and globally-inspired flavors give us access to unique flavors, history, culture, and landscapes. Whether you eat foods grown in your own community or foods from or inspired by foreign lands, what you eat is influenced by that place’s growing conditions – its hills and dells, sun and rain; the unique spices and foods of the area; and the food traditions that are part of the local culture. For me, making these connections makes the food I eat all the richer and more delicious, and it gives me great respect for the places it comes from. And, when we cannot travel, we can still venture widely without leaving the kitchen.
Empowering ourselves to eat well is a challenging task. By learning, cooking, exploring new tastes, understanding what makes us feel strong and good, and by seeking out gorgeous, nutrient-rich foods, we can begin to eat healthily, abundantly, and in a way that supports a lifetime of wellness.
Our food system is made up of a complex mix of economic, political, and production interests;often times, these interests are at odds with our ability to eat healthily at a price we can all afford. It shouldn’t be an either/or proposition. Good, healthy food should be treated with respect, and its producers valued, but it should not be a luxury reserved for the few that can afford it.
These are the principles that guide my personal food revolution. What are yours?