There are certain books and that are just perfect for Food Studies. I am slowly making a list of ones that I think are essential for students interested in studying food. These books seem to come into my life just at the right time. My new companion, “Bringing it to the Table” by Wendell Berry, was love at first sight. After reading the first chapter “Nature as Measure”, Berry’s ideas started to connect the pieces in my life. In combination with my first garden project, it is helping me start a new relationship with Nature, education, work, mom, the women of my life.
Nature as my love
My love for productivity seems to be an addiction. Several people have told me that my lust to accomplish many things quickly and efficiently is a result of capitalistic culture. I often feel that I am behind in life and I need to study harder and experience more. I work hard just to work more. The demand for “more” is constantly going up, at the cost of quality and joy in my life and culture. As an American, I notice the effort to produce and buy more food at cheaper prices; if money controls our decisions then money is our liberty. Regardless economic wealth, I feel security in surplus, maximized time, the big stack of pancakes, a pantry filled with food, an alcohol collection (even if I don’t drink), papers published, books read… to horde, and do the things I want to do.
Nature as my Mom
Mom knows best. Her daily works are responsible, patient, plural, necessary, yet slow with difficult struggles and much hard labor. She gave us life, helped us grow, and at times causes a disaster. Treat the land like we should our mother: know it, love it, treat it well, and it will take care of you. We are family regardless if you like it or not. Without mama, the poor child will not thrive. Ask for her help and advise.
Nature as my woman
In a conversation, you might not always expect to receive the reply that you foresee or a reply that you will like. My ambition to bring her into my life has reduced and enslaved me. I understand that “inability to distinguish between a particular woman and any woman is a condition predisposing to abuse.” Yet at the same time, I feel in order to learn how to grow and know the land you must go out there and just do it. Just like my first vegetable garden, I have little experience and knowledge, but I am learning while taking care of it, growing in faith and love, for her, for me, and for life. I don’t want to rape anyone. I want to love, grow, and be loved.
I need to redefine my idea of nature. Think less of quantity, efficiency, artificiality, singularity since this will lead inevitably to recklessness, laziness, exhaustion, stress, and eventually death.
Instead I will bio-diverse, begin to ask questions, understand others, experiment new ways of life, etc. Then, I will be able to have better relationship with Nature, and bring her into my life.
How’s your relationship with her?