Two weeks off farm has provided a dramatic perception shift. I’ve been reflecting on how much my life has changed in the last five years, from traditional supermarket shopper to farmer and local food security supporter.
At 33, I’m still learning a sense of my own body, coming to understand what types of foods and methods of preparation work best for me. This internal, personal process has been guided by food allergies, but also by a larger sense of social change activism and my negative interaction with the criminal justice system. Each of these elements have offered me pieces to understand my current place in time, but I wish it didn’t take so long.
Forces of assimilation created by the herd/group mentality in public schools deny children a food individuality. You can extrapolate this process into what kinds of adults we are trying to create with a system that encourages boring, rote work, and semi-rigid, authoritarian control in the classroom.
If you don’t know that food can make you feel good, you don’t know that it makes you feel bad; it took me almost 30 years to figure out that simple truth. It’s not as simple as it sounds; my mom knew that I had food allergies but my desire for conformity overrode any ability to assess my food preferences. We must teach children to be different and to understand their unique body preferences, or we consign them to a food-system that offers a lifetime of bad food choices.
There are vast, systemic issues of food access; we must address food inequality if we are ever to address economic inequality. Programs like Market Match provide a dollar for dollar match program that doubles EBT capability at local farmers markets. This means that farmers receive more money for growing produce and that there is an incentive to buy fresh, quality produce.
Drying, freezing, or canning food can access quantities at lower prices during peak production times. It is important that we remake our view of “entertainment” to include “seeking out and enjoying quality foods produced in our locality.” It’s time to return to the old ways that created the essence and understanding of “comfort foods”.
A general loss of body awareness correlates with a loss of cultural and place-specific foods. When we declare that “an egg is an egg is an egg,” and that “all the apples come from Washington State”, we decimate foundational systems that would lead to body consciousness and awareness.
Without an awareness and understanding of what food does, we are helpless to understand what it does to US. We deny the potential for food allergies until the symptoms are too obvious to be ignored, and then we often cover them up with cortisone shots.
It has taken a long time to figure out a rudimentary sense of which foods my body likes and which it doesn’t. Part of this is because we Americans eat so many foods, combined in so many fashions that there is great difficulty sensing which things might make us not feel good. We’ve lost much of traditional dietary patterns that included cultured and fermented foods and local, seasonal ingredients.
Traveling has left me with a profound desire to settle back into life on the farm. I’ve become a creature of routine and method; my time on the road has been a difficult adjustment. The hardest thing for me is the purchase-consume-discard paradigm. I like to purchase things from my local grocery, but I don’t need to buy very many. Traveling, I’m cut off from my supplies and it is a strange feeling.
I’ve been reflecting on the sense of security that comes from a farm; produce waits for harvest or hangs to dry. Jars of various harvests are put up for winter. Chickens make eggs in the coop (in spring meat birds will make meat) and the freezers are stocked, run by solar power.
When I’m centered and working on farm, I eat vegetables and meat and I know where they come from. That goes right out the window when I’m traveling, and my body pays the price for it. The lesson is profound; if I expect my body to perform at highest potential, I must provide it with highest quality foods.
I also find that I spend much more money purchasing food traveling, and that much less of that money goes to farmers. I pay corporations instead of people, spending more money to purchase poorer quality food that often comes with preservatives and chemicals. Even the innocuous “citric acid” is harvested from black mold grown on GMO corn syrup substrate.
Digestion is the process by which food is broken down (decomposed or fermented) in the gut. Preservatives are designed to slow/stop decomposition from happening; in short, we put anti-digestives in our “food products”.
Sugar, caffeine, processed carbohydrates all cause a spike-crash effect in the brain, flooding it with dopamine. A carbohydrate-caffeine cycle with breakfast, continued cycles throughout the day with snacks and meals and the aftershocks of each up-down cycle reverberate through the system in cascading waves.
We’re always in the midst of a spike-crash cycle that is also an overlay of earlier consumption patterns; I have another coffee at break because I’m crashing from the caffeine-carb load at breakfast, so I have two separate cycles clanging dischord through the adrenal circuits. These cycles leave us hammering through the day tense and stressed, going up and down on multiple cycles at the same time, never at stasis.
The larger rhythms of my life have also tended to swing on cycles of health or hectic. This last year was hectic, the year before was health. I will work to accent my tendency towards health this year; it is necessary and welcome.