This morning when my husband opened the door to catch the commuter train downtown, he found the most wonderful thing waiting on our doorstep – our first produce box of the season! This is the second year that we have participated in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, and each week from April through October we receive a box filled with fresh and local fruits and vegetables.
Receiving this first CSA box of the year makes me happy for several reasons. First, it means less trips to the grocery store (woohoo!). Second, it means that warmer weather MUST be right around the corner (even if it still feels like the middle of winter here in the Midwest). And finally, the CSA season means weekly emails from Vicki, the program’s coordinator.
Every week, Vicki sends out an email detailing the goings-on around the farm – what has been planted, the weather report, and the latest planting challenges. Vicki also gives us a preview of the treasures that we will find in our box, a description of any unusual vegetables (like this week’s celeriac), and advice about cooking techniques and favorite recipes.
The produce box also has the unintended benefit of increasing awareness about the role of food in my life. I’ll be honest, I have had sort of a love-hate relationship with food over the years. As a kid, I had the metabolism of an Energizer bunny and could eat just about anything and everything. But later – in college – things grew a bit more complicated and I developed an eating disorder, which lead to a number of issues with food and self-esteem that still rear their ugly heads from time to time.
I suspect that food is a rather “weighty” (pardon the pun) issue for many people, each with their own weaknesses and emotional attachments. And more than just nutritional sustenance, food and food-related activities are the backbone of our society, involving everything from family traditions to religious customs.
Yet despite the critical role that food plays in our health, daily routines, and culture, I tend to take it for granted or even resent its significance. Grocery shopping has become a competitive sport, as I race through the aisles in an attempt to minimize the whining and begging and wanna’s and gotahaveit’s from the kids. Dinner preparation has become a battleground, a test to get dinner on the table before someone loses their mind (usually me) or an eye as a result of Lego’s being hurled across the room (again, usually me). Lunch has become just another chore to be squeezed in amidst an already chaotic day.
But I want that to change. Food should be recognized as the blessed luxury and sacred celebration that it is, especially since there are so many people for whom food is far from the entitlement that has become for so many of us. Last weekend, my six-year-old son and I participated in a group service project at Feed our Starving Children. For two hours, our group of nearly 100 students and parents filled bags with rice, soy, vegetables, and vitamins – our own little manna packs – to be sent overseas to starving children in other countries. The experience was truly amazing in a number of ways – amazing that such tiny little hands could do so much good; amazing that so many children will be saved by a relatively small investment of time and money; amazing that in preparing food to feed other people’s bodies, I could also feed my own soul.
I want to restore the sanctity of food. I want to rid myself of my love-hate relationship with food in favor of a love-love relationship between food and spirit. I want to spend more time respecting those whose hands made my food. I want appreciate the miracle of food, rather than lament its annoyances. I want to celebrate food, rather than taking it for granted.
I want to find Grace at the bottom of a box of rice… or in a spoonful of cookie dough.
What kind of relationship do you have with food? Do you tend to take it for granted? How do you celebrate food?
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