Our Connection with Food

I’ve learned something unique about food. After all of these years cooking for my family, clients and myself I have realized a simple fact that food connects us all. It is a universal language much like smiling is. Most people understand that food is a sign of love, nurturing and comfort. We get lost in food, find our expression with food. We are compulsive with food and emotional and satiated. Basically as humans we eat food to relax, enjoy, and fill our stomachs. We also eat food in excess, to ease the pain, because we are bored, anxious, sad or angry. Also in contrast, we eat very little food and starve ourselves of nutrition and the basic right of enjoying food so that we can be skinny and fit into that pair of jeans hanging in our closet. Whatever the reason, all humans eat food. The very basis of our adaptation on the planet is that we eat food. Animals eat food also, but in a much different way. Animals basically eat to survive, humans on the other hand have evolved much further. We cook our food, go to restaurants, gather with family members, plan holiday meals and eat for a million other reasons.

Of course we need to eat to survive as well, and that is at the very core of our being but we have really forgotten about survival. We have disconnected with the food we eat in so many ways. That disconnection makes us eat without notice, care or concern about what goes into our mouths. We spend little thought on how we process and eliminate what we eat. It’s such an ironic thing. One of the very basic things that food does is connects us as humans and we have lost that connection with food, with ourselves and with our families. When was the last time you really put into play in your mind what you’ve eaten for the day or for a particular meal, without all the nonsense of “dieting” or fat grams or calories. When was the last time you ate something and knew how it was grown? Where it came from? Whose hands picked the fruit or vegetable, who raised the cow or pig and how was it slaughtered, in what body of water was the fish you’re eating caught or more importantly what machine was used in the “process” and how the process came to be. How about the thought of what role the nutrients played in our bodies as we digested the food, and how we digest and eliminate the waste from food. In our everyday lives we don’t think about it. Modern science and industry has allowed us to purchase food items from a store, bring it home and cook it without ever knowing who, what, where, when, and how the food came to be. Of course some of us go to the local Saturday farm market and feel a little better about our knowledge of where our food came from. But that is it, the connection stops there.

How do we then prepare that food at home and how do we eat it and what intention do we create around the food as it enters our bodies. What intention do we put forth when we serve food to our family members or friends at the table? If we even sit at a table at all. In our modern times, and with all the latest technology that surrounds us, we still find something missing in the way we purchase food, prepare it and eat it and eliminate it. We have lost our connection with food and each other. We have lost our ability to assimilate food in a healthy way. We need to bring those ideas back into focus and back into the conversation, back to the store where we purchase food, back to our kitchens and back to the dinner table.

We are experiencing something of a revolution here in the states. Especially in my home town of Detroit, Michigan. We have had so many restaurants open in the past few years in our city. It’s really quite remarkable. Farm-to-Table is becoming a widely used phrase in the food and restaurant business.

As it is described on Wikipedia, Farm-to-table (or farm-to-fork) refers to the stages of the production of food: harvesting, storage, processing, packaging, sales and consumption. Farm-to-table also refers to a movement concerned with producing food locally and delivering that food to local consumers.

It is my hope that this article gets the conversation going. About food, eating, dieting, obesity, child obesity, diabetes, heart disease, health, exercise, being fit or too fat, too thin and generally what kind of attitude you and your family have about food.

I am a personal chef and have worked professionally as a chef for about 12 years now. I started cooking for private events (in people’s homes) and mostly in an entertaining kind of way. I started taking myself seriously as a chef because I was laid off several times between 2006 and 2008 leading up to the financial crisis our country faced. I had dabbled in the idea of being a chef and then getting laid off from my corporate job as a marketing professional forced me to look at the whole idea more seriously. Since then I have and continue to cook for a private family. Although I have cooked for many different people, it’s always interesting to me how people eat, what they like what they don’t like if they are game to try anything or picky beyond compare. I am also interested in how people react to food, how they react to taste, texture and the idea of what is on their plate. I have learned, especially with children, that if they have the idea that what they are being served is yucky to them, then there is no way on God’s planet you are going to get them to eat it, or even try it.

We as humans have so many ideas about food. We have always eaten with our senses and if something looks good or smells good, we go into this sort of frenzy about the food on our plate. I have witnessed that some people eat fast and some eat slow or others pick through their food and if they found a mushroom or a tomato or whatever they don’t like and if it found its way into their mouth it would be a disaster. Some folks just try everything and go with the flow. Whatever your idea is about food I want you to try something new.

As you read through this, I want you to try a new way of thinking when you go to the grocery store the next time or when you prepare your next meal or when you cook for your family or entertain your friends. I would like you to STOP for a moment and think about what you’re doing. Really I mean it. I want you to stop and pray. Prayer whether you’re a religious person or not, is simply allowing your mind to get quiet so you can block out all other outside thought and noise. Prayer allows you to focus. Think about what you’re doing, think about what you’re intending on doing, think about what outcome you would like to experience. Are you trying to show love, happiness, and joy? Are you helping out a friend? Are you trying to get your kid to try mushrooms? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Are you worried about your weight? Do you avoid the mirror? Are you worried about your kids or your spouse and their health and weight? Are your bills paid? Are you worried if you’ll be on time to your next meeting or appointment? Are you fearful of what you look like to others? Are you always running late? Think about it. Just stop and think. The next time you’re buying food, or cooking food or eating food, think about how you are feeling about it all. If you don’t know how you’re feeling, well therein lies the problem. It is my intention as you read along to help you help yourself. You’re reading this because obviously you are interested in a healthier idea. As a result perhaps you may find that there really are some simple solutions to all this food business and healthy eating and you really do have control. You really can be happy, fit, healthy, and satisfied. Oh and I should mention that you really can be full.

About Jackie Anderer

Jackie Anderer, a member of the Domestic Estate Managers Association, operates her own private chef business in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. After spending almost 20 years in the corporate world as a marketing professional, she began cooking in 2004. She is passionate about food and assists her clients with meal planning, shopping and preparing healthy and delicious food on a daily basis. She is also dedicated to working with the local community to understand where food comes from and is a volunteer teacher for Cooking Matters, a local food bank program that is part of the national No Kid Hungry food program.“I love what I do. Even if I had all the money in the world, I would still do what I do. I like to make a difference, even if it is one plate at a time.”

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