Food – Thankvember Twentieth
America is the wealthiest nation in the world. We have ample resources to feed all our citizens – and yet,every day, we are told, 1 in 6 people will go hungry.
Clearly, something has gone wrong.
There was a time when most people grew their own food, or traded services or materials for what they could not grow.
Before that, there was a long history of hunting and gathering what was needed to feed oneself and one’s family.
It seems to me that there is a powerlessness that comes from not being able to produce any of one’s own food. And I wonder if there is a power grab being made in the unavailability of fresh fruits and vegetables, and other healthy foods, in many inner city areas, and in the cheapness of mass-manufactured food products.
I’m not fond of conspiracy theories, but it does seem that, as food becomes more and more the purview of huge conglomerations concerned more with profits and market shares than they do the nutritional or chemical content of the items they market.
It reminds me of what was done to Native Americans who were forced off ancestral lands they lived upon in harmony with nature. The reservations were unfailingly on poor lands that could scarcely support anyone, and strong and proud nations were controlled by the expedient of being robbed of the resources they would need to live healthy and balanced lives.
In both cases the resulting imbalance is generally summarily pawned off on those with little power and no real hope of change. And, in both cases, someone is benefiting from the necessities of life that are being denied.
In my own life, food was a source of great conflict for the majority of my life. I’ve always been a grazer who took my time eating anything, and didn’t want very much at a sitting. I would have preferred to eat small amounts every hour or two.
This was in direct opposition to what my parents required: that I eat two or three meals a day, with no snacks, and that I clean my plate in what they felt was a reasonable amount of time. Their attempts at making me comply included requiring me to stay at the table until finished, or, if I would not finish, serving the cold remains at the next meal, and then the next. Threats, punishments, yelling, and even being spanked with a stick were a part of their strategy to reform my “bad behavior” around food.
I began my own parenting with a milder version of the same concepts. I didn’t force my children to eat all of what I served, but I served what I chose to, and chivvied them to eat. I also allowed my parents and a sibling to use food as a means of controlling my children, even though I knew how it felt to be controlled in that way.
I am grateful, today, that I am healing my relationship with food. Now, I see it as pleasure, and as fuel, and as a way of tending kindly to myself and my health. I eat without guilt, generally, and, more and more often, without compulsion. I eat consciously, attending to what my body and soul need.
And I have released my children to do the same. Watching them choose their own diets, and seeing the shifts that happen when they are in growth or plateau phases is enlightening. Children, when unpoisoned by parental assumptions about food, can be very wise about it. It is not uncommon, here, to see my 8 year old assess her choices for protein content, because she knows she often feels grumpier and more volatile when she doesn’t eat some fairly regularly.
There is an ease in what we eat, a willingness to consider alternative foods and diverse ways of procuring food, to grow some of our own food, and to eat as we wish, for goals of our own. If there is power in choices about food, we are learning to use it, for our own benefit, and to share it, which benefits us all.
- Mindful Eating for the Holidays (benourished.typepad.com)
- Food costs: ‘When four bars of chocolate are £1, you end up on junk’ (guardian.co.uk)
- The Art of Food Seduction (theflyingfugu.com)
- Real Food in the Real World: Stephanie Small (unmistakablyfood.com)