Food for me is not simply the calories I consume. It is part of my identity, it is my political stance, it is the essence of my community, it is the ethics by which I live, it is a tool to build the future I envisage, it is the source of my life-energy, it is my livelihood, it is where I gain much of the pleasure of life, it is my global language.
It is all that I can communicate with words and so much more that I can’t.
Food has become a barometer of my current level of happiness. In the moments I am happy I am reaching for the foods that nourish me and in the troughs of discontent, I will be found eating the foods that are not all that good for me. This is a pattern I think is almost impossible to break on your own. The will-power needed to make the right choices will inevitably run out at some point over the day.
This is where food takes on a grander role. It becomes bigger than oneself. The only happiness to be found in food is when it is part of something bigger than yourself. It is the centre of celebrations, it is the symbol of the changing of the season and it is the habits of a community.
I realised, at some point in the last decade, that my life needs to be intertwined with food. I want to be involved all the way from the fostering of the ecosystem in which it grows, to bringing it to the community and to enjoying the bounty with the people I live among.
I want to be surrounded by nature and graze the seasons on the food she is providing us. I want to be a useful part of the ecosystem and patiently observe as it improves through my efforts.
Food needs to be a force for good that draws people towards it and encourages them to spend time together enjoying it. The language shouldn’t be reductionist about fats and carbs, we should be talking ‘the language of food’. The whole, locally sourced and seasonal ingredients that go into our meals.
The world of food should be a slow one. Meals prepared lovingly and enjoyed collectively. I envisage more community kitchens, owned and run by the communities themselves, where meals are cooked and shared together. Those with the time spend the rewarding effort preparing the feast and those without the time show their gratitude with their smiles, laughter and warm praise.
We have all experienced our Happy Food, if only for a fleeting moment. I do not mean the short term fix from a sugary treat. The real euphoria is beyond just a physical one. Our food embodies where it has come from and how it was grown. The happy surroundings produce endorphins (the happy hormone) and the people around us produces oxytocin (the love hormone). All this accumulates in your being and you feel alive.
My happy food is one where every element of your life builds in the habits and behaviours to encourage as many of these magical moments as possible.
Food is community!