Food Is Life

Tiramisu
Photo by Oleg Volk

I love to tease my boy that he is so stereotypically Jewish.  He loves to set people up and he loves to feed them.

Especially me 🙂

It’s a joke, but there’s truth at the bottom of it.  Food, especially when you come from a culture that has seen its fair share of bad times, means life.  If you love someone, you keep them alive.  We don’t see this a lot in America.  Yeah, we have our poor, but our poor are generally better off than the middle class in a lot of countries.  My boy’s from the USSR, he’s seen what poverty looks like.

So as Americans, we don’t always get what it means for people to feed us.  I grew up working class poor, I never went hungry, but I did spend some days between paychecks living off school lunches and peanut butter.  I appreciate being fed, but it wasn’t until a friend explained it to me that I made the connection.

Food = Love.  When you love something, you take care of it.  I had this lesson pounded into my head by my martial arts instructor.  You took care of the class, from putting away pads to washing the walls and floor, because you loved your class.

When you love your people, you take care of them.  This goes from making sure they have healthy food like veggies, fruit and lean proteins to making sure they have a treat because it’ll make them happy.  My boy keeps me stocked on fresh made fantastic salads, salmon and fruit, but he also buys me chocolate, just because he can.

To be so rich as to be able to spoil his girlfriend is huge for him, and many people I know who were born outside the U.S.  It’s something we take for granted but it’s a symbol that they’ve made it as human beings.

To be able to cook is to be able to provide for your family, it’s as manly as hunting or fighting off attackers.

It’s providing life.

This goes to the heart of how we see and treat food in this country.  Yes, we have a lot of obesity and unhealthy foods, that’s because we forgot what is at the heart of it all.  It is life.  We focus so much on fad diets and hating our bodies and can’t eat this or that, that we forget food is a good thing, it’s an essential thing.

We see it as bad and causing obesity and health problems because what we really shouldn’t be eating has taken over our shelves.  A ton of processed premade meals with crap in it our bodies don’t know how to digest, corn syrup filled sodas we guzzle on a daily basis and trans fats that have been modified so they stack together firmly in our bodies.

Food isn’t the enemy.  Even certain kinds of foods aren’t.  The stuff that’s terrible for you?  Have it in moderation.  Like your donuts?  Okay, make some yourself at home.  When you make it at home, you know what goes into it and the labor behind it gives you (in my humble opinion) more respect for it.  It takes time, which is usually the problem, because this bad for you stuff is fast, but if you think of it as spending time with your loved ones (cook together! 🙂 and doing it for them and their health, that time doesn’t seem like such an inconvenience.

Start small, cut out trans fats.  Eat the sugar and the fatty stuff that doesn’t have those.  Want the donuts?  Make them from scratch.  People were making donuts before trans fats were invented.  Take care of the people in your life and take care of yourself.

Food isn’t the enemy, food is life, it’s love.

Happy cooking and good mental health 🙂

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