Tracy Lee Karner
The Way I Was

F is for Food, glorious food! living well, despite everything

Tracy Lee Karner
Food, glorious food!

Food,” says Rosetta, owner of Rosetta’s Kitchen in Asheville, NC, “is the physical embodiment of prayer.”**

** in Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual memoir of Food and Faith by Fred Bahnson

Food nourishes us; it facilitates healing and creates community. All five of our senses are involved in the enjoyment of food.

So how did food become such a problem in our society? How did disordered and unhealthy eating become practically the norm?

  • An unhealthy lust for convenience has changed the developed world into industrial eaters, people who (as Wendell Berry says) no longer know the connection between their food and the earth.

  • Industrial eaters, those who eat a diet of primarily factory-processed and institutionally-prepared food, are unconscious eaters.

Don’t you think we ought to be conscious about that which is essential for living?

Those who don’t know how to grow, prepare and preserve food have relinquished their most important liberty–the freedom to make healthy food choices.

  • Industrial eating happens when people choose to value convenience, quantity and low price more than they value quality, health and good stewardship.  

  • In order to remedy food-related problems (such as the obesity epidemic, disordered eating, unhealthy environmental practices, and widespread hunger)  we need to be aware of what we’re eating.

How to eat consciously:

  •  when we know where our food comes from and when we have relationships with the producers,

  • when we know how our food is harvested, processed, transported and prepared,

  • and especially when we participate in growing food and cooking it,

  • then we gain comprehensive knowledge about our food,

  • and this empowers us to make health-wise choices.

When we participate in the production, the preparation and the preservation of our food, the consumption of our daily bread remains what it was meant to be–

  • food as a blessed fountain of wellness,

  • partaken with friends and family, at a table which nurtures communal bonds.

How important to you is the growing, preparation and/or preservation of wholesome food, as a means to living well?

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39 thoughts on “F is for Food, glorious food! living well, despite everything”

  1. Love the quote by Rosetta, my NC neighbor. I think too many people use food to fill a void rather than to sustain the body. We should eat when we’re hungry, not when our emotions are in disarray.
    Great post, Tracy!

    1. I wondered how close you were… I’d definitely love to get to North Carolina, asap. There appears to be something special going on down there. (You’re there, which confirms my assessment, in my mind!) 🙂

        1. Who knows what’s in store…

          A month ago I would have said, not likely. But there’s so much going on here (in our lives), that I have to say… it could happen. I do know that I’d love it to happen, God willing.

          1. That’s what makes life so exciting, we never know what’s in store. God will direct our path and I trust him to guide my steps each day.
            Thank you for the kind, handwritten message in your book. xo

  2. Very important! I love whole foods! I made a conscious decision about 10 years ago to be done with processed food. I love cooking now. I love the taste of food now. I love shopping as locally as possible for food. and I’m not convinced it is more expensive. I stay full longer with real food. ❤ I love food now.
    Diana xo

    1. I’m with you, Diana–people say it’s more expensive, but it’s really not more expensive, because when we’re satisfied (when we eat real, whole foods), we tend to eat less volume.

      Gee, I can’t wait until we meet in real life. We have so much in common!

  3. “Food, Glorious Food” is the perfect title for this post, Tracy, and food truly is the is “the physical embodiment of prayer.” We are becoming a nation/world made up of industrial eaters, much to the detriment of our moods, energy, creative, and the health of our bodies and souls. Excellent post.

    1. I’m meeting more and more people who are deliberately choosing to be conscious eaters. That’s an encouragement I greatly need, because the reality of what has happened tends to depress me.

      The good news is, we still have the power of choice.

    1. Yes–that’s why I sought you out after I read a review of your book. I need to know as many people as I can, who share my passion for REAL food, because I get so discouraged about what’s happening to our bodily and environmental health, the result of wholesale apathy and lethargy.

      I do know that a person has no right to complain, if she isn’t actively doing something to change the problem. I’m working on eating consciously and surrounding myself with like-minded people. I’m glad to get to know you!

    1. I have tended to break down during times of extreme stress, eating whatever is readily available, which is usually junk. It takes a lot of focussed energy to eat well. It’s only recently (the past couple of years) that my habits are strong enough that stress doesn’t entirely unseat them.

      I think the best advice I got (and can’t remember where I got it from), was not to try to change everything all at once, but to work on developing one simple habit at a time, for example, making sure to eat a nutritious breakfast every day.

  4. How true it is that too often we are incredibly disconnected from our food. The experience of shopping in the grocery store does little to inform us of where our food is actually coming from!

    A couple of years ago my dad and I actually went to a friends farm and helped with the slaughtering of the turkeys right before thanksgiving. It was an eye opening experience for me. I found that I had a completely different appreciation for the meat knowing exactly how it had ended up on our table.

    1. That’s how it happened for me, too. I grew up near my grandparents’ farm, so I did have some appreciation of how food gets to our table (they slaughtered and processed pork, chicken and beef, as well as grew much of their food, including apples–and they kept bees!) But I got a renewed appreciation for the life & death that supports our living, when I began hunting/fishing with my husband.

  5. As my family gets older it becomes increasingly difficult to get together for family meals. There are still ways, though, and we still manage to pull it off at least for the evening meal often enough. I will tell you that one of my favorite times is the time spent on Sunday afternoon getting ready the evening meal.

    1. I think it’s impressive when family’s are committed to finding a way to eat together. It definitely is difficult to get everyone together for a meal. It’s almost become counter-cultural to make it happen! We have friends whose children are all grown and married, with children of their own. They still manage to pull the whole family together for a Sunday dinner once a month.

  6. I’m an emotional eater, so know that disconnection from food. But as I get older, I learn more and more about where my food comes from and have a real appreciation of the work that goes into it’s production. That doesn’t mean that I’ve overcome the emotional eating, but it does make me more conscious.

    1. Does anyone ever really totally overcome emotional eating? I wonder whether we’re not all emotional eaters at times–doesn’t everyone, at times, respond to food emotionally. I’ve used food to comfort myself. But my bigger problem is that when I get really, really stressed (bereaved or anxious), I can’t stomach food at all and I start losing way to much weight rapidly. Definitely not healthy. I don’t think there are any easy answers to any of our most pressing problems. But I do think that awareness (consciousness) helps us make better decisions more often.

  7. I love this post! I just had a conversation tonight with my parents about how differently my generation eats compared to their’s. My mom mentioned how her mom used to bake all their food from scratch when she was growing up. That concept almost seems foreign by today’s standards and that’s just sad.

    1. It is sad…. but it’s simply impossible for households with two full-time employed workers to do all the cooking / baking that was done in previous generations.

      We do bake everything from scratch–all our breads, cakes, pizza crusts, even crackers…

      but my husband is retired and does most of the baking, and I work part-time, from home. AND, baking is something that is overwhelming unless someone who is a habitual baker teaches you the tricks that make it simpler.

      Sometimes I think we ought to set up a school…. you wouldn’t believe how much money we save on food cost by baking at home. We spend less than a third of what the average family our size spends on food, and we eat really, really well.

      1. I find the time commitment required for cooking at home, especially trying new things, to be the greatest obstacle. So much time and effort goes into the planning even before the actual cooking. But, slowly I am getting better at it and broadening the number of dishes I am comfortable preparing.

        1. Slowly is the only way we get better, and more comfortable, doing anything.

          Someday when things settle down for me (after I’m not so caught up in my book launch), I’d be really interested in hearing about your journey into broadening the number of dishes you’re comfortable preparing.

  8. I think we are getting obsessed about food too much. No junk food, everything must be organic, we have to buy locally etc. etc. The past generations lived the food dimension much better. I don’t think that a burger or a bag of nachos at the movie theater once in a while will kill me. Everything with moderation is the key for me.

    1. That’s exactly my motto, too., Francesca. (and I ate a burger yesterday! with french fries!) We can’t buy everything locally (there isn’t any wheat grown in New England, and the beef from here is either poor quality or outrageously expensive). We buy what we can from local producers, and many of those cannot afford to be certified organic.

      To me, this new obsession with food is like a new religion that promises excessively longer life if you follow its moral code. I don’t believe it.

  9. We consciously or subconsciously stick to just meal times – no unnecessary snacking unless an absolute treat. Although cooking isn’t my thing I always prepare fresh vegetables to go with what ever we are eating and dessert is invariably fruit based. Organic veg definitely taste better and while I will buy them if I can, I am not a stickler to this code. However, as a family, we are a pretty healthy bunch and our preference is for fish and lean meat and salads. I cannot bear heat up meals – they even smell horrible!

    1. Sounds very healthy to me.

      And you’re an example of what I was talking about when I said, if we are in the habit of eating real food, the we can smell/taste the unreal stuff from a mile away (and don’t need to read labels to know it’s full of weird chemicals/preservatives/fillers).

  10. Eating a healthy balanced diet is important to me but I do sometimes veer off the healthy piste for a culinary ‘treat’: cake, french fries … Still, it’s only once in a while so I don’t stress about it.

    I think it’s sad that so much of what’s eaten today is industrially produced, because I don’t believe that bodes well for the future health of the next generations. 😉

  11. When I was in my teens, we did eat healthier because we raised some of our own food. I got away from that for a long while. We don’t raise our own crops, but we are buying healthier foods – fruits and vegetables – and cooking more home-cooked meals. Those choices and being conscious of what we’re consuming have helped us shed pounds and be healthier. Good post, Tracy.

    1. I hope we can get back to the time when we can trust that the food we get anywhere is good for us–real food.

      But I do think that being in touch with where our food comes from, having a hand in its growing or harvesting and preparation, is something of which we should never let entirely go. Knowledge is power, right?

  12. Tracy, I love this post for so many reasons, not least of all because this is what you are all about – living authentically in every possible way. I will never forget my food & nutrition teacher in high school teaching us that ‘you are what you eat’. I was 16 and I never forgot it. My mum also cooked everything from scratch, we never ate convenience meals but then in the 70s we didn’t really have them here in the UK. I tried to bring my children up the same way even though we did cheat. But the one thing I insist on is every Sunday we sit round the table together and eat our roast dinner. My boys eat really healthily but my daughter struggles with what she calls her ‘junk food addiction’. We have recently sought help for her to lose weight safely and healthily and as a result I am in process of transforming the way we all eat, hubby included! (He is a fish & chip addict!!). It means I’m doing more cooking and I’m trying to involve my daughter as she was before when she used to help cook and prepare the meals so it is a commitment on all our parts but it is so worth it. Everything you share here is how we should be eating and it is sad that for so many this just isn’t happening. Industrial is the word for it. Thank you for reminding us again of what is really important in this life we have been blessed with, every single day of it 🙂

    1. 3 cheers for you, Sherri–especially for seeking help. It’s dangerous and counter-productive to try to lose weight any other way than safely and healthfully.

      I’m glad that you see it’s a process. Let me remind you to be patient–it takes time transform. We succeeded because we went little by little, one thing at a time. And we didn’t beat ourselves up when we made the inevitable slips.

      Wishing you, and especially your daughter all the full benefits that go along with rejecting the industrial food model. You should all feel more energy, have better moods, increased strength and endurance, and be able to enjoy the blessings of being alive more fully.

      It’s a lot of work, though! Celebrate your accomplishments every day, and let the growth unfold in its own time. Don’t yank at the petals of the new growth thinking you can make the little flower bloom more quickly. 😉

      1. Thanks so much Tracy for this excellent advice and encouragement. You are a very wise lady who speaks with experience and I hold great store by that! I can already see the difference in my daughter. She is young, so when she puts her mind to it she can lose weight easily. The joys of youth, eh? 😉

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