why food matters.

lately, i appreciate how impossible it is to do things alone.  the idea that it takes a village?  truer words were never spoken.  our world needs so much love.  more than ever, we must take care of ourselves, of one another, of our earth.  there are maybe a billion ways in which we can do this.  and the amazing thing is that we all have different strengths that allow us to contribute.  (so exciting!)

if i could, i would stand on a rooftop and yell about my love for breath, body, food, and nature - because those are the pillars that fuel my fire.  it's barely an understatement to say that my whole life has been a journey to rediscover what I've always known: that these four elements are the building blocks to my life.  and that part of my life purpose is to connect others back to themselves through tapping into each element in a way that feels authentic.  in my opinion, only once we discover ourselves can we begin to change the world. 

so, when i encounter someone who's passion is for art or medicine or design, i don't think - if only they shared my passion.  if only they cared more about MY elements.  that's crazy!!  the world needs people who have come alive in their own way.  the same way i want to help people connect with themselves through what i believe, i want others to connect me to myself through what they believe.

breath, body, food, nature

anyone who knows me knows about my love *ahem* obsession with food.  it wasn't always like this.  i distinctly remember a conversation maybe seven years ago in which a roommate of mine pointed out that maybe my entire diet should consist of more than pasta and frozen meals.  i was extremely dismissive of her comment.  at the time, pasta and lean cuisines were my staples.  i ate fruits and vegetables as well, but processed foods were my go to.

i drank diet coke, chewed sugar-free gum, and used four packets of Splenda in each coffee.  i had debilitating panic attacks and horrendous OCD but those things weren't seemingly related.  (ha!)  i actually don't think it even occurred to me that my diet and mental health COULD be related.

turns out (of course), they are.  when my body began to reject wheat, dairy, and soy - all within 6 months of each other - it was a (slow) wake up call.  i'm always amazed at what the body knows before the mind has time to process, this being a perfect example. 

i plan to write more at a later date about HOW my diet plays into my mental health.  for now, i want to point out that we are what we eat.  and that having worked with various SES populations throughout my professional life, i recognize that not everyone gets to choose what they eat. 

in new Orleans?  food deserts.  in seattle?  parents both working full-time jobs to make ends meet feed their kids (my students) frappacinos and subway because they don't have time to shop for and cook whole foods.  in new York?  everyone is so damn busy in an endless rat race that forking over cash for prepared food is the norm.  in asia?  complicated: good because of the growing environment, bad because of the introduction of processed foods and the lack of education (in some countries) about the potential consequences.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the ways in which we can change this culture.  i dream of a baseline in which a) people are educated around the importance of whole foods b) people have access to affordable nutrition and c) people aren't so susceptible to the BS marketing around health food these days (organic doritos are STILL doritos, guys!).  i also hope for farmers to be compensated in a way that's actually fair and for everyone to understand that flaming hot Cheetos (my once in a blue moon vice) can be an every so often snack... not what we should feed our children as food.

i remember deconstructing the nutrition label on Cheetos with my garden students a year and a half ago.  they could barely understand what each ingredient was... and yet they understood that what was in the bag wasn't recently in the ground.  i remember doing blind taste tests with kiddos around a conventionally grown apple from the grocery store and an apple i bought from a local orchard.  they loved how much the latter tasted like candy and all "ewww-ed" the grocery store apple by comparison.  

for me, this education has to begin with children.  the more we get kids excited about growing food (which isn't hard, just let them harvest purple potatoes once or twice and they're ALL in), the greater our chance of changing our food culture.  it's about feeding us well, yes, but it's just as much about looking out for our one precious earth and making sure she's taken care of.

that's my food for thought of the day.  so grateful to have the privilege to ponder the world this way. 

Hannah Smith