Today I packed what has become my typical work lunch--spring mix, walnuts, dried cranberries, hummus and buckwheat crackers, applesauce, and an array of snacks/tea. When I arrived at work, I realized I'd managed to forget my raspberry vinaigrette, and the salad that I love to make so much kind of falls apart without it. After swimming laps yesterday, I am having one of those days where the hunger feels bottomless and gnawing, like no amount of protein and electrolytes will cut through the ache. In short, it isn't a great day to have forgotten my dressing.

The point of this post isn't to talk about my work lunch--or, rather, lack of it. It's to talk about relationships with food. How do you view food? Is it an inconvenience? Is it too much work to prepare dinner every single night? Do you find yourself comfort eating or, the reverse, starving yourself? Do you enjoy meals most when they're shared with those that you love? Do you eat in front of the TV? My relationship with food has fluctuated over the years--sometimes much more indulgent than others. Each summer though, I usually find myself drawn to the abundance of fruits and veggies available. I am also one of those weirdos who will eat soup in any weather...

A few years ago, my relationship with food changed drastically when I lived with a good friend, a sort of sister, a soulmate, who introduced me to veganism, something I'd been interested in for some time. We worked together in the Office of Sustainability at the University of South Carolina, which has a fully stocked kitchen inviting you to cook lunch in the middle of the day and a garden full of yummy eats right when you stepped outside the front door. While eating vegan, my body had never felt better; my mind had never been clearer. Prone to some bouts of angry stomach (I hold my stress in my guts), I became someone who forgot what a stomachache felt like.

However, as time passed, I fell out of the habit of eating vegan--eating instead mostly for convenience. This past year, I made drastic changes to my life, left my 9-5 in the pursuit of full-time education (PhD, MFA, and WGST Cert). This decision to live not in the box that is often prescribed for us in American society, but to take my own path has reminded me of the reason that we eat--the reason that I eat.

The only time I eat out these days is to share a meal and conversation (and maybe have a drink or two) with friends. When someone I love is open to sharing their food with me, as I am with them, or to splitting a dessert, I have an even better time because we are sharing a delightful, even sensual, experience together. Food is sexy! Food is compassion! Food is a way to communicate beyond the use of words, which is saying a lot, since I sure do love words.

Food is about connection. Connection to the earth. Connection to nature. Connection to one another. When I prepare snacks and meals now, I do so with the intention of not only filling my belly but filling my soul. I love to eat off of the land, love a richness of colors and textures on my plate. I want to feel energized, rejuvenated, alive when I finish a meal, not lethargic, stuffed, or complacent. My favorite place to eat is out in my backyard. The wildlife--lizards, hummingbirds, bees, toads, and more--are my entertainment. We are all after a meal, after something that nourishes us.

In a busy world where so much is instant, building an intense, passionate, and pleasing relationship with the dream of a meal, the gathering of ingredients, the preparation, the eating, and, if you're lucky, the sharing of that meal, can be difficult. Grocery shopping, cooking, and even the act of eating can feel like something you just can't avoid before you need to move onto the next item on your to-do list. I get it. Food can be expensive. Cooking can be time-consuming. And eating can be lonely.

Today, all I ask is that you take the time to look at your food, to really see it, to ask it what it can do for you. What does your soul (not just your belly) want you to consume? Then go eat that thing. Savor it. Let the juices run down your chin and the fibers stick in your teeth. Eat with your hands, instead of utensils. Eat under the blue sky or while laughing with someone you love. Begin to see food as an old and sacred friend. Hey, you've got to eat, right? Why not feel great about it? Then share this message with your friends. Let's all enjoy eating again.

As for me, I'm going to go party with some naked lettuce...

Sending you peace and satiety,


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