A few years ago, I had dinner with a friend and fellow parent who had recently moved to the US from China. That night, she was cooking a simple, fragrant meal with finely minced ginger and plenty of vegetables. We chatted over a glass of wine in the kitchen, while we watched the garlic and ginger sizzle in the hot oil that lined her enormous wok. As gorgeous smells filled that kitchen, she said something that I couldn’t stop thinking about: “Chinese people have a very different relationship with food than Americans,” she said. “In China, we love food. It’s a big part of everyday life and a huge part of every celebration. It’s strange, but I’ve noticed that here in America, people seem to think: ‘Food is bad. Food will make me fat.’”
It dawned on me that our growing mistrust of the food we eat might actually be eating us up in return. We used to trust our food. We knew where it came from and what it was made of. These days, I don’t recognize many of the ingredients I read on a typical supermarket food label. Sometimes, it seems like the tongue-twisting components of our packaged, processed foods might actually have their own agenda. It’s hard to blindly trust in the goodness (or at least the non-toxicity) of an ingredient that sounds like: polyglycerolomol lecithininimic acid. When exactly did the substrates from my college chemistry lab find their way into my food anyway? Could it be that all of our innovations in food processing have left us holding a ticking time bomb?
What if we spent a bit more quality time with our food on a regular basis? What if we cooked and ate it together with our families, maybe even growing it or buying it from the person who did! What if we reallocated just a little bit of our time to food? We might regain the trust we once had for the things that nourish us and we might actually find ourselves loving the right food again. Now that would be worth celebrating!