Guest Post: How I Learned Food Matters
Sam Friedman is a musician, writer, filmmaker and photographer exploring the art of happiness in Los Angeles, CA. To discover and explore his work, visit http://www.about.me/samfriedman.
At some point after I moved to Los Angeles two months ago, a switch flipped inside me. It’s hard to say when, exactly. Maybe it was at the LAMC Farmers’ Market at Barnsdall Art Park. Or while I was sticking my hands into the soil of a local vegetable garden. All I know is that as soon as the switch was flipped, my vegetarian brain became obsessed with cooking. Which is confusing, considering I was already cooking all my meals.
I didn’t start listening to cooking blogs, or take classes. In fact I still have only followed a handful of recipes in my entire life. But in the past eight weeks, I’ve experienced a personal Renaissance in the exploration of food in my kitchen. I have delighted my taste buds daily (repulsing them occasionally), spending hours preparing meals, exploring my ingredients with the diligence and fortitude of an early European explorer, and experimenting with flavors and quantities like a mad scientist. I’ve taken photos of my mint, cilantro, basil, tomatoes and sweet banana peppers with the reverence of a new parent.
Going to the farmers’ market weekly now, I spend very little time in the supermarket. I know the people who grow my food, or their children, or their friends. I know some of their stories. And at least once a week, I buy as much fresh food as I can carry. This intimate connection to my food makes me excited about eating. But more importantly, it makes me feel good about my food. I’m eating even healthier than I already was, and I’m supporting a system that has a positive effect on my environment – both socially and environmentally.
The first time I plucked leaves from my own basil plant last month, I was moved emotionally in a way that caught me off-guard. Harvesting my own food was an experience I’d never had before. It reminded me that we often forget what’s truly important. Food is unique in that it is one of the few things on this planet that we all need; it unites us at a core level. And because it is so crucial, food (along with its producers and distributors) has the ability to completely reform our landscape as humans, both literally and figuratively. This is something that the folks of in.gredients seem to understand intrinsically, which is part of what makes their venture so exciting. The joy I feel now on a daily basis I owe not just to myself for the choices I’ve made, but to people like them who provide me with a healthy, affordable way to nourish my body and mind.
When I related the story of trimming my basil to my friend Pam of Slow Food USA, she said “if only more people felt more gratitude and humility toward the food that sustains them, we’d be in a much better place.” in.gredients understands that, and it’s what will make them truly magical.