Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Eating Well

My desire to eat well is not altogether different from my desire to be religious. I do think there is a value to both, but I do not typically have the will to truly accomplish either. The flesh, as it were, is weak. I'd like to be able to differentiate the two. That is, I'd like to fashion a religious piety that makes my weakness a strength, and thus provides me with some kind of redemption. As it is, though, I am increasingly having a hard time fathoming such a redemption without a commitment to eating well.

What does it mean to eat well? For most of us, it is just a matter of eating healthy -- of balancing the bad stuff we put in our body with good stuff; or, even better, putting in our body more good stuff than bad stuff. In this sense, "healthy" presupposes either a state of equilibrium or an appropriate ratio (of good stuff to bad) to be the ideal, the result of which being that one lives a longer and/or more (mentally & physically) productive life. In my mind, this is only one part of eating well. Or, perhaps we frame it more positively: this is the general structure of eating well. When we get more specific, though, we find that eating well, eating healthy, cannot simply be about me & mine eating well/eating healthy. Rather, in order to keep eating well, to make it a habit that allows & animates life, eating well must be extended beyond me -- to others, to every other. This is precisely because of the interconnectedness of human existence: as much as we might like to think our health & well-being is ours alone, it is in a give-and-take relationship with & through the activities of others -- and thus, their health & well-being, as well. (Not to mention the fact that the truest measure of life, that which happens after it is over, after we've died, and thus even the truest measure of the "afterlife," is what we leave behind, the results of our [the plural] eating well.) Eating well, then, is more than counting calories & carbs; it is more than avoiding nuts if you're allergic to them. It is more than making sure you get enough iron & protein. It is, in short, more than insuring you & yours have all the vitamins necessary to live long & vital lives. It is, rather, having the will to insure that others have the capacity to do (& thus to will) this as well.

If this is true, eating well is perhaps the most revolutionary, radical action possible. The most unthinkable, even, what for the ever-present first-world dominance over food cultivation & distribution. In the name of profitability, we are sold (and gladly purchase) cheaper, typically less healthy, goods, which all too often not only inject us with the poisons that kill us, the consumers, but also kill the laborers who are paid to grow & produce it, by forcing them to abandon their natural sources & markets of subsistence.

I really want to eat well, as much as I want to believe in miracles, in beginnings that never stop & that thus change the social fabric & our conception of what is possible and what is not. I really do, and yet I still do not. Where, then, to begin?