This is the house that Jack built. Do you remember that nursery rhyme? At first you just saw the house in your mind's eye, but then the story took you deep inside, so that you could see how the house was linked to people and creatures, in ways unexpected. This is analogous to my relationship with food. How did I become so passionate about food, its origin, and its effects on the body? Look at my journey and you'll see that I wasn't born with an organic BPA-free spoon in my mouth. This is the story of how I became a foodie quite by accident.
If there's one word that summarizes my journey, it's this: relationship. Some years ago, a friend invited me to hear America's "most famous farmer" Joel Salatin speak. (He wasn't that famous back then, by the way, but he certainly is now! You may have even seen the article that came out just last week in the Food section of The Washington Post entitled "Joel Salatin's growing on us.") Anyway, I went to his presentation primarily because of my friend's insistence.
At the end of the night, honestly, I didn't know what to make of Joel. I thought he spoke too quickly and too passionately. (If you know my speaking style at all, this should make you smile!) He was asking the audience to reconsider their relationship to food, to the land it grows on (or grazes on) and to the one who grows it. His ideas seemed radical and strange. Nonetheless, I was intrigued enough to buy his book "Holy Cows and Hog Heaven: The Food Buyers' Guide to Farm Friendly Food." I even got Joel to autograph it for me. The inscription was puzzling, though. "Hilda: Welcome to the team! Joel" What did he mean by "Welcome to the team"? What team?
Joel knew then what I only came to realize later: I was on the brink of being drawn into an amazing group of passionate, vibrant people---a team that was sparking a food revolution of sorts. They were making different choices: planting gardens, getting local food, avoiding overly- processed foods and commercial retailers. I had no idea who I was getting mixed up with!
Up to this point, my relationship to food had been utilitarian. I was hungry, so I ate. I just needed enough to quiet my stomach and fill my belly. Once I had children, a shift occurred. I wanted them not only to be full, but to be nourished. I wanted them to be healthy and well. I set out to identify the most nourishing foods I could, to serve them to my family. My relationship with food was morphing: from utilitarian to intentional and purposeful.
The "team" I was joining had purpose in spades, so I learned from them. I joined a group that received food deliveries from a farm in Pennsylvania. We got milk, eggs, meat, produce. I loved the food and was pleased to know the farmer who was providing it. He even had a name: Jake! I started digging deeper (no farming pun intended). I found books--"Nourishing traditions", Joel's aforementioned book, "Good calories, bad calories," ---blogs--- "100 days of real food", and "Food renegade"---and faith-based guides like "Treasures of healthy living"! Suddenly, I was looking at food very differently. I began to see it as miraculous and beautiful, life-sustaining and delicious!
Talk about a transformed relationship, huh? And I'm not through learning. Not by a long shot. I did get certified as a health coach by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, so that I could share the wealth of resources and discoveries I'd made. I also became a DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), an organization committed to helping people find nutrient-dense foods. (I'm happy to answer questions about either of these groups, by the way.)
Where are you on your journey? How closely have you looked at the food on your plate and where it came from? If you are just starting to make different choices, congrats! And brace yourself. You may start out just wanting to put good milk, meat, and eggs on your table, but you just may end up as part of a team that you joined, quite by accident!