On Food That Doesn’t Kill

Image via Diana Prichard, with permission

We had frost warnings here overnight. Spring was fashionably late, arriving a full month after we are accustomed to ushering her in. Winter is trying to show up early by the same margin. This should be illegal in an area that only gets a few short months of warm weather to begin with.

I broke out my winter chore boots a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been wearing a hooded sweatshirt for morning chores even longer. Today I pulled a Carhartt jacket over top of it before stepping out onto the back deck where I was greeted by the sparkle of a light frost. It wasn’t just a threat. Shaymus, a Tamworth boar who has a date with destiny on Monday, rose, stretched and trotted towards me as I headed down the path towards the chicken coop. He’s been extra sweet lately and if I didn’t know better I might think he were petitioning for a pardon. I stopped to scratch behind his ears and tell him good morning.

Meanwhile, the rest of the country continued on in the throes of nonsensical arguments about how best to eat without dying. And I won’t lie, I smiled a bit, smugly, knowing the futility of it all; recognizing the irony of an unorganized and behemoth bureaucracy trying to sort out the very monster they’ve created in such a way that it has become impossible to sort out at all.

I have a secret for you. I don’t share this with many people, but I know exactly how to eat without dying: simply.

Which is not to be confused with eating poorly. Quite the opposite, eating simply can be incredibly extravagant if you should be so inclined. Eating simply can be delicious. It can be affordable. It can be quick and easy and convenient. It can be both healthy and decadent; sinfully so, though not always in tandem.

Eating simply, in fact, has very little to do with the items with which you choose to fill your plate and much more to do with the method by which you procure those items. By definition, of course, some things will not be available from simple sources, but seldom is there not a satisfying alternative available.

We needn’t spend millions on red tape we’ve no way of knowing the efficacy of to keep Americans from dying by the very primal act that connects him, by a common thread, to every species on the planet. Everything must eat. We don’t need to regulate every pathogen known to man. E. Coli and Listeria and Salmonella; Oh, My! All are notoriously disrespectful of authority, anyway.

What we need, as a people, is to stop expecting someone else to be in charge of our sustenance. What we need, as a nation, is to take back our control, to take back our connection to the things that feed us, to stop and realize that industrialization of a production system that is inherently non-industrial was a bad idea. We need to admit it is unreasonable to expect any one person, even one branch of one organization, or one organization as a whole to police millions of acres of property across the country and everything that goes on therein; to expect minimum wage workers to take pride in an assembly line existence and to do their work with the care and precision of an artisan; for others to care as much as we do about what goes into our mouth, what goes into our children’s mouths.

What we need, as a people, is to refuse to consume unidentifiable foodstuffs; to demand meats and eggs and dairy products that have been derived from animals who are not so disconnected from the owners of them that those owners do not know their names — even if that name is a number — and their histories; to eat salads that were harvested from fields in which workers were not paid so poorly they could not afford to take a bathroom break; to understand that decreasing the percentage of household income spent on food at all costs is what got us in this position to begin with.

What we need, as a people, is to eat real food from simple sources; sources that have not become so complex as to be inherently out of control.

Diana Prichard wears many hats, some more passionately than others. She is the owner/operator of the small farm, Olive Hill and a freelance writer with a focus on food, agriculture and women’s issues who spends her free time shooting things — both with gun and camera — shaking her hips in belly dancing classes and striving to live realistically. She also writes the blog Cultivating the Art of Sustenance.

  • Sanbai

    How easy to say when you are part of 3% of America and live on a farm, probably inherited from parents or relatives. Say this to a fifteen year old black kid living in urban Chicago – how “helpful” is this smug little post to a kid like that? It’s nice to say “take back these things” when you already have them – come back when you can reach out to the people who have never had what you have and can *actually* make a difference in a life not as privileged as your own.

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