Food for Thought

14 June, 2019
By Marco Levi

Miracle foods, but only on screen.

Foods to boost the immune system. Foods against aging. Fruits as long-life elixirs. Recipes against the heat, recipes against the cold. Food is the undisputed king of the internet, a near obsession of our age. At least in those parts of the world where food can be found in excess, enough for everyone to be able to pick the fruit that “looks best”— a leftover from 80’s commercials, which built the appeal of food on visual qualities rather than nutritional values.

But is good-looking, “perfect” fruit really nourishing? Could factory production of perfectly shaped tomatoes, nature bent on endlessly making them all pretty and identical looking, be classified as nourishment? Without meaning to spark fruitless (pun not intended) conspiracy theorizing, there is one basic fact that cannot be overlooked: to go on discussing the various properties of food means ignoring a major problem. The earth, reduced as it is to mere assembly line, can certainly grow marketable “shapes” that are pleasing to the eye, but perhaps not to our blood.

 

Biodiversity in exchange for mercury.

Let’s begin with a fundamental point: the earth, food’s natural mother, is in grave danger almost everywhere across its surface, in some places even on life support. And not just in the planet’s wealthier areas: everywhere there is hatred and carelessness towards our great mother. News reports on environmental holocausts in biodiverse areas seem to multiply with each day. Of these, one of the most severe has been affecting the natural reserve of Tambopata, in Peru. Between the regions of Madre de Dios and Puno, in an area teeming with life, more than 237.000 acres of woodland have been lost in the last 30 years. And the reason is gold. A rich and fruitful soil is turned into mines, in order to extract the bloody nugget. Also, not everyone may be aware that mercury is employed for its extraction, with devastating consequences. Today, thanks to growing awareness campaigns catching the attention of those in power, things are slowly starting to change. For instance, in Peru, just as in other South American countries, the army often steps in to garrison the land. But this is not enough, when in most cases the seed of damage has already been sown. And the overwhelming demand of the markets, imposing a blind and greedy system, is the heart of the matter. The supermarket shelves of “happy” countries.

 

The “ugly” nourishment of nature.

We have seen the complexity of the argument over food. And indeed, a figure like Wim Hof may be able to show a way out. Not so much the way to the best restaurant, we’ll leave that to TripAdvisor, but certainly the most humane way of awakening. To wake up is exactly the point: growing your inner soil, in order to look at every fruit, every seed, everything of this world, including our own “hunger”, coming back day in and day out, through the lens of self-listening. Conscience today is the main ingredient of any food, the only thing that allows us to understand what really is important, what really is vital. And the answer is, forever, the same: nature. Nature is both beautiful and ugly. Bright and dark. Perfect and imperfect. This seeming platitude makes all the difference between “pretty” and “good”, in terms of nutrition. A system that legally allows wasting away all imperfect fruit, unworthy of the supermarket neons, is such a system “good” or “pretty”? It takes meditating before answering the question “what is food for”? Those fruits were life, they were real nourishment. And not the usual, shiny, miracle recipes.

 


Photo by sydney Rae.