Why does dinner have to be so complicated?

It used to be you opened the fridge. pulled out some potatoes and meat and vegetables (or opened a can, box or freezer bag), did some stove hocus-pocus and there it was: dinner.

Now the choices boggle the mind. First, there’s food labels. Someone like me might look for words like natural, real, whole, fresh and local, while someone else goes for creamy, sweet,¬†melt-in-your-mouth. We’re both buying concepts though. These words have no agreed upon meaning. We depend on the feel of them because few of us grow any of our own food.

Then there’s justice issues. Most of our food comes from elsewhere, produced by people we don’t know. How are the workers treated? What is the gap in wages between the company owner and the people on the factory line? and those in the fields? Do the farmworkers have a place to sleep. Decent sanitation? Following that line of thinking can lead to despair, anger and a realization that our food is cheap because someone, somewhere, isn’t being treated with full respect and honor.

On top of that, we find we need to care about how the soil is being treated. And the air and water. Whether today’s snack is creating tomorrow’s cancer or climate change. Talk about ruining dinner

And then there are the food allergies. These days you invite someone for dinner and you have to find out if they are allergic to: wheat, peanuts, nuts in general, gluten in general. And you need to know where they land on the scale of animal, vegetable, mineral. Do they eat raw, vegan, vegetarian, meat as a treat, only fish and chicken, omnivore. Do they burp with raw onions. Fart with beans. Break out in hives with strawberries.

I hope I can – as I speak and write – help people relax a bit around this dilemma. Develop a personal set of criteria and a personal set of strategies for meeting those criteria. Simplify the process.

I also hope to inspire many people to bring their eating closer to home, thereby knowing directly where that food comes from, who grows it, how, where their farmer’s kids go to school, and how we as eaters can partner with our “feeders” so there is a “wholeness” and “realness” to our food because we are in relationship with the plants, animals, fields, soils, air, water and human community. Food as where we are from, not just what we buy. As who we are and what we care about, not just what we like and who else likes it on Facebook.

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