“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are”
- Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (the original gourmet)
It’s often said that food is one of the few things that connects us all – from the skyscrapers of New York to the jungles of New Guinea.
Biology textbooks will tell you food is chemical energy and nutrients for our bodies; but our relationship with food is far more complicated than that.
Very few of us would even describe having a relationship with air, or even water, which are even more vital to our existence. Clearly food isn’t just chemical energy and nutrients; its emotional, social and cultural. The significance of food is interwoven through our societies from the top to the bottom – from state banquets to birthday parties, whether comforting home made soup for the family or microwave meals for one in a plastic tray. Jean Brillat-Savarin was right, what we eat is central to our lives, it does define who we are.
And not just individually, also as a species.
You’ve probably heard the mantra Half the world is overweight, while the other half starves.
It’s not that far from the truth.
Unfortunately all the forecasts are for both statistics to worsen – with climate change, increasing fuel costs, water scarcity and rising population, alongside poorer quality diets, decreasing levels of physical exercise and increasingly westernised ways of eating in many parts of the developing world. The hungry look set to get hungrier, and the fat fatter!
Food doesn’t just connect us – it also divides us.
The problem isn’t scarcity, but policy, politics and a lack of compassion in the system.
There’s more than enough food in the world to feed everyone, we just need to get better at sharing it.
Photo by lettorovication, via Flickr