We need a month to celebrate food? Says who? And why?
(maybe it started out as someone’s not so brilliant April Fool’s joke…and then the idea stuck?)
Oh, and it’s also Gardening Month. Good to know. NOW I’ll go out and get my gardening done. Would have never thought to do that without Gardening Month.
Aren’t food and gardening by nature (pun intended) connected? Have we become so disjointed in our view of food and sustenance that we need to recognize food and gardening separately? Of course there are the ranchers, dairy farmers (yes, you can farm milk – but not dairy products…those have to be crafted) and grain producers of the world. But it’s all still food and part of the agrarian way of life.
It’s the disconnect that causes or even allows us to continue on blissfully ignorant of the terrible things that are in some of the foods we consume. There’s been quite a bit of publicity about “pink slime” in roughly 70% of all ground beef sold in the US. Or there’s the ongoing battle over whether one type of seed is better than another. Organic or non-organic dairy products. It can be overwhelming, and the reporting can sometimes be biased…VERY biased…in either direction.
Personally I wake up almost every day hungry and ready for breakfast. If I believed everything I read without verifying it for myself, I would starve! I don’t need to be reminded to appreciate food. I enjoy each and every meal, if for no other reason than the fact that it makes me full. But I also know that full doesn’t mean satisfied. And, I like to be full and satisfied. We have the ability to be satisfied by the foods we eat in ways that go beyond the simple mechanism that tells us to stop eating.
We refer to that ability in terms of taste, texture and flavor or even flavor profile. That’s where the true enjoyment of food really comes from. The rich diversity of flavors and textures abound because there are people who still care about food; growing it, preparing it and eating it. What’s more those people are amazing, even inspiring if you let them be.
Some people would like to see the term “foodie” used less and “culinarian” used more. Maybe they are right. A culinarian is by definition someone who is “responsible for skillfully preparing meals that are as pleasing to the palate as to the eye. They are required to have a knowledge of the science of food and an understanding of diet and nutrition.” You’d never see a culinarian at your local farmer’s market asking for twinkie seeds for their garden, even if it was gardening month! More importantly you can be a culinarian without formal training. You don’t have to have “chef” in front of your name to be considered a culinarian.
Rather than celebrate National Food Month, or Gardening Month, consider this your call to action. Learn as much as you can, not just about where your food comes from, but how to prepare it in ways that look and taste delicious. Pick up a recipe book and experiment with something new. Talk to your local “culinarians” about what they look for when purchasing various items. Learn, learn, learn.
Stock your pantry with a few basics: various unrefined sea salts, some peppercorns and be ready to buy some fresh herbs or dried herbs too. The salts and peppers will create flavors you never expected! More importantly, they will help you prepare for this incredible journey, and then maybe by the end of the month you’ll be ready to start harvesting some of the goodies that are growing in that garden you planted!