I’m convinced that food connects us to a place. It’s something we do at least two or three times a day given our time and resources. Or, if you’re still in school, Taco Bell at two in the morning may or may not count. But that’s for another time.
I do know that food has recently, in the past few years, become important for me to understand. There are huge benefits in knowing where your food comes from. Not only for peace of mind, but for the sake of our food culture. Your meat should not be cheap. And while we’re on the subject, let’s talk about the fact that we eat too much of it. Well, let’s just say as Americans, we consume a lot of meat. I am not a vegetarian, vegan or pescetarian (which I just learned is a person who eats seafood, but no other animal), but I do try to keep a minimal approach at eating meat.
People often say Portland, Oregon is a foodie town. I thought I loved food until I came to live here and realized that these people really love to eat. We have an amazing climate that allows our farmers to grow beautiful ingredients. My heart beats faster knowing that Spring and Summer are coming, as are gorgeous veggies and local artisan products. Local farmers are our rock stars. Sometimes I get nervous talking to them because in my mind, they are truly doing sacred work.
Here in the Pacific Northwest food has led me to become an activist of sorts. I have my own foodie blog. I’ve spent the majority of the past year learning how to cook better…baking bread on the weekends and curing bacon in the vegetable drawer. My wife and I are learning how to choose to invest in our food. Our American mentality has convinced us that food should be as cheap as possible. It is after all, such a seemingly short-lived product, as compared to a car or a house or an RV. The reality, though, is that long after that house has returned to dirt and that car is well… still rusted metal sitting in a scrap yard, the choices that we’ve made about what to eat have shaped both our landscapes and have likely forcibly shaped the landscapes and indigenous food cultures of people around the world.
We’re lucky to have such a good food culture that provides us with the means to buy more local. If a Wal-Mart is all you have, try connecting with local farmers or co-ops. I’m sure they would love to show you their hard work, and in return, pay them for the labor it takes to raise our food sustainably and humanely.
Lastly, I want to recognize that the ability to enter a discussion about choosing what to eat is a reflection of privilege. Many do not have access to the food they need or the resources to obtain it. It is necessary to recognize that this conversation exists because we are a food culture of both excess and also nutritional lack. You don’t have to be rich or pompous to enjoy good food. We all need it, so we might as well start learning how to buy and eat better — for our sakes and for the future of our food.