When I was watching the news a few days ago a feel good story came up that took place in Camden, NJ. Basically, a five year old boy living in Camden opted to save his allowance so that he could buy the local police officers Subway sandwiches for lunch, because he wanted them to eat healthy.
So in return for the kindness, the officers surprised the little boy with a mini drive-able cop car and uniform so that he could patrol around town. A video was posted of the officers surprising him. He was so happy.
For those of you interested I’ve linked to the story here:
So now you may wonder why I bring this up. This story really reminded me of something that a classmate said to me in my class. We were talking about love and caring for people and how cooking is an act of love.
To nourish someone is to show love…
This concept was foreign to me and I think i said something like, “Oh I never thought of it that way!” And my classmate said… “FOOD IS LOVE.”
And that was when I got it! Food really is love. Cultures and humans across the globe through time have all used food to signify togetherness, support, fortification and yes LOVE.
Naturally, this conversation took a turn toward how we associate foods that signify love as those old school junk comfort foods that our grandparents made or a treat we really liked since childhood.
The fact that junk food could be love was foreign to me beyond any capacity.
Actually food as a signal of love was a completely foreign concept to me. I had always associated food with negative connotations. Given my eating disordered background I looked at food as failure, weakness, and lack of control.
Then later as my body was going through its cycle of illness I looked at food as a source of confusion, pain, symptoms, and an endless source of apprehension and guilt since I didn’t understand what foods were doing to me and how they were effecting my health and body.
So eating was just a game of anxiety for me. Almost never in my first 19 years of life would I have ever even once associated food with love in my living memory. I promise there is a point to this.
As I became healthier and started to learn about nutrition, cleansing, eating, etc. and how to use food as my friend to heal my body there was a shift in my outlook on food. It may not have been love, but at least I could enjoy it finally. Through my years of detoxification I had to learn to cook so that I could simply feed myself on a basic level. Eating disorder and a love of processed foods kept me out of the kitchen previously.
That curiosity and exploration started turning into an unconscious love of food. So after years of feeling better when I decided to go to culinary school it was more for the usefulness of the skill than my love of tastes.
Everyone else around me in school seemed to really love food. To them food was love! It was so interesting to see how that translated to their love for cooking and creation. It really inspired me. And I would say that was the first time I was ever convinced on a conscious level that food is love.
That cooking is nourishing and to nourish someone, to keep them alive, whether in a commercial setting, as a chef or nutritionist, or as a mother or family member feeding family, is an act of kindness and yes that word again… Love.
But further than that I want to challenge what the definition of food as love really is. Is a Big Mac or a Subway sandwich love? To me no. Feeding oneself and those around us naturally health supportive foods is the truest act of love there is.
To love oneself with life regenerating foods is the biggest act of self love and love of our families that we can possibly give! It isn’t simply the act of feeding someone that is to love, but that helping heal the body through food and to respect ourselves enough to take the care to do so, is the ultimate act of love.
So eating and cooking healthy food is love. Which brings me back to that five year old. In his mind Subway is healthy because that is what the marketing says. So to him it’s simple. He wanted to express love and so he did it through feeding those he loves healthily… which is the truest love of all.
The fact that it can be easily recognized and developed by a child reminds me that this is a very carnal and naturalistic part of our species development. And therefore should be honored and respected.
So love yourself and love others through one of the simplest necessities of life… Eating and Feeding one another healthy food.