Food, real food, should be a right and not a privilege.
I have spent a lot of time recently steeped in the world of cookbooks and food writing. There is so much passion that goes into this work. A love of food and place. It’s inspiring.
But at times, it can also feel very insular. An insider world where reality doesn’t come to play into the picture. A niche where artistic creation is more important than substance, and the status quo rarely gets challenged.
No matter where you are on the food spectrum, an obsessed foodie or someone who eats simply for sustenance, one thing is certain: our food system needs to change. Honestly, the fact that most of us aren’t kicking and screaming at the current state of food affairs is appalling. We should be arming ourselves for a food fight.
Everyone should have access to real food. But access should also be defined by what is sustainable and not by our cravings.
While most of the rest of the world is restricted in terms of their daily intake – some people really only do have rice to live on – in the privileged world, we often scoff at restriction. We roll our eyes at a market that only offers seasonal produce. We wonder whether the restaurant serving a two-item menu shouldn’t be trying to be a bit more creative. Trust me, I’ve heard people say that. But should it really be your right to be able to go to a grocery store or a restaurant and get absolutely everything that your little heart desires?
Restriction and constraint after all, are fuel for creativity, and while there are many people in the world who need to have more access to real food, there are many of us who need to reduce our ideas of abundance and choice.
We should be restricted. We should be restricted by the seasons, distance and environment. But we are not, and so we continue to eat in a way that is unsustainable.
If you are a food lover, then you have an obligation to think about what you’re eating. You have an obligation to know where your food comes from, and you have an obligation to know how the broken food system is negatively affecting so much of the population. We have to start to learn how to turn passion for food into a passion for improving the food system, taking the pleasure that we get from eating and transforming it into advocating for real food, not only for the privileged, but for everyone.
And maybe that starts with a little restriction. Restricting what we allow ourselves to order or to purchase. Cut out the processed, order in season and not respond to our body’s ever single craving.
If we are privileged enough to be able to make conscious decisions about what we eat, then we should be doing so. Every time. Because it is only in restricting ourselves that we will begin to make real food an option for everyone. And that is the least that we can do as conscientious humans.