I used to cook for a living (before kids), and although I learned many basics, it occurred to me that while being taught, the focus on food preparation wasn't at all about our connection to it. I had no idea until I started growing broccoli and cauliflowers at home that they were actually an immature flower head! Looking at them later of course it made so much sense. Why weren't we taught this? Or that there are 50,000 (ok, slight exaggeration) different types of tomatoes, all beautifully coloured and tasting! Or that green beans are a summer loving vegetable and that carrots also come in all sorts of different colours and taste SO much better when grown at home. I would never have bought non-free range eggs and chicken all that time ago, had I known the awful lives these birds endured. Why didn't anyone teach me these things, and why did it take me so long to find out on my own??
Why aren't we more connected with the foods we eat?
The tv is flooded with competitive style cooking shows where contestants are ridiculed in front of their peers if they produce a sub-standard dish. I can't bring myself to watch these shows..shouldn't cooking be all about the love that goes into it and to those you are serving? Why are we being offered this kind of entertainment at someone elses expense and embarrassment? (Maybe you can help shed some light for me...I really don't watch them...just see the ads occassionally which is enough to turn me off..or rather, me turn it off).
If we're going to talk tv though, there are a few food shows that I absolutely love... River Cottage, Food Safari, and Rick Stein's Food Odyssey just to name a few. These shows connect with food in a way the appeals to me. I am inspired by them to learn more and create. These shows show me the love in food that I'm looking for.
Our supermarkets are stocked full of packaged foods. Ready made meals to heat up, so many 'instant' products and sauces to just add hot water to (come on, really. How hard is it to make a cheese sauce?!). And while I think these packaged items are ok for emergency use, a treat or an unexpected moment, by using them regularly and coming to depend on them, aren't we stripping ourselves of valuable cooking (life?), skills? What's going to happen when we can't make soup from scratch anymore or provide a simple, healthy meal for our family because we suddenly have lost the skills and 'don't know how'?
One may wonder when reading some of my recent posts 'why exactly does she make her own yoghurt when it's so much easier to buy? Or why on earth is she traipsing through forests seeking out suspicious looking fungi when it's so much safer to get them from the shop?'. To me it's simple and I'll tell you why. It's about connecting with my food. Seeing where it comes from, where it likes to grow to be happy, how it's made and what processes make it change from start to finish. It's about knowing these things and then sitting back and watching as this food nourishes my family. The associated low prices are a bonus, along with the low food miles.
I realise that I'm lucky to have the space to play with vegetable growing. If I was a city dweller perhaps I'd be haunting the local farmers markets looking for locally grown produce, or finding a small farm on the outskirts of town that offered products that interested me. Organic veggie boxes are a fantastic idea for those that can't grow their own, offering weekly deliveries of seasonal produce with minimal hassle. I've found that forming relationships with small retail food sellers are another way of becoming more connected to our food. They are wonderful for help and advice (and placing orders!).
This is my Food Connection. It's a path I feel I have found my way on to and one which I'm really looking forward to travelling down further and seeing where it takes me. Travel along with me, if you like!
How do you connect with your food?