Close your eyes and remember the first time you ate a fresh strawberry or a ripe peach.
Imagine the juices dripping down your chin as you bit into a slice of watermelon.
Think about eating a tasty, crumbly, creamy cheese.
Or perhaps you remember the aroma of a juicy steak just off the grill.
Just writing this makes me feel privileged to have had those experiences. I traveled through most of Europe, eating as I go. The memories of eating a baguette with cheese in Paris, a meat tray on a wooden platter in Austria, fresh watermelon on the beach in Croatia after snorkelling, fresh pasta in Rome while eating with friends and colleagues will never leave me..
I have also been fortunate to have grown my own food – mostly vegetables, and some soft fruit. There is nothing that can replace going into my garden on a cool dewy morning to pick full ripe blackberries or eating fresh cherry tomatoes straight off the vine. My mum used to rave about my red cabbages – because they were straight out of the ground they tasted nothing like those from a supermarket.
There should be no privilege in enjoying food. We all must have the opportunity to experience food as joy. I was going to call this blog post “Food as a Weapon” and start listing the ways in which food is used to control and oppress people. I just attended a couple of conferences and webinars where the use of food as a weapon was clearly the goal of many governments and lead to hunger and starvation in, for example, Yemen, Syria, and Venezuela. Even without direct government involvement, political decisions in the US and in Europe mean that for some people just getting any food is a hassle removing all the pleasure out of eating. People should not have to worry whether their food is safe and healthy to eat at every mouthful. I might still write that blog post one day.
Today, I want to remember the pleasures of eating good, healthy food. Let us never forget what that joy tastes like. We must appreciate and remember those moments of joy and make sure that we all have the opportunity to create them again and again. Do not take for granted the food on our plates and do not forget that joy because, if we do, we will lose it. Currently we have two different food systems: One for those who can afford fresh, organically grown, local food and the other for people who can only afford mass produced packaged food-like substances.
Share a joyful food memory in the comments and directly share the joy of food with a friend or a family member this month. Find a local food artisan and find the joy in food again. I am about to visit my Dad, where I will cook him some of our favorite dishes: hazelnut and tomato bake, cheese omelette, and rhubarb crumble with ice cream. If I am lucky I will buy food from the local farmers market and from the local grocers, knowing where my food comes from.
I know my small food businesses and food entrepreneurs don’t forget that food is joy. They create happy moments with food every day. You should do the same.