I am ashamed to admit the number of times of I have cleaned out my fridge, tossing a bunch of rotting produce that I failed to use up. ‘Oooh the waste!’ I lament.
But as ashamed as I may be, I am not alone, this is common and it speaks to our disconnection from food. Our chubby little culture doesn’t have much of a relationship to food beyond it being something we pick up in a store (or, *gasp* the drive-thru) and shove in our faces. Even for those of us who claim to value food, our heath, this planet; who love to cook and commune around food, our actual connection to it is often minimal.
So when a bunch of us dug up my back yard to put in a community garden, I was stoked that our relationships were about to deepen; relationships to our food, with each other and to what’s important. There has been a mix of excitement and sadness among us.
We’re excited to be experimenting and watching food grow, to be reclaiming our right to participate directly with our food supply in a sacred and honourable way. What has been repeatedly striking is the impact that the industrial food system has had on our generation; that food growing out of dirt feels like magic is a little bit sad. That a yellow, round cucumber can’t be a cucumber because it’s not long and green and familiar is fascinating.
It is sad how quickly a culture can become disconnected from something that is literally part of our bodies; that we have been intimate with for the history of our existence. That we have turned it over to industry as though that industry has been doing us a favour is nothing short of heartbreaking.
The whole garden is flourishing; everything is doing so well that I either attribute it to being God’s nod of approval or some really great beginner’s luck. There is some seriously Sacred Cauliflower out there. The reactions to it have been amazing. Looking into these giant leaves to see this gorgeous head of white flower actually presses deeply into the spirit. People gasp, step back, squeal…It’s like Little Shop of Horrors or The Cabbage Patch Kids. Something happens when you look at that thing that makes you go ‘shit…that is alive’. And its aliveness sustains our aliveness.
The directly cyclical nature of this relationship feels profound. Food is not just here to sustain us, but we are here to sustain it. Perhaps obvious in concept, but for most of us, rarely is it so in practice. If I don’t water, they wilt. If I don’t thin the beats, they don’t reach their potential. If I look at the carrots the wrong way, they get angry. And so we find ourselves in service of our food.
Nothing rots in my fridge now. Heck, most of it doesn’t even make it to my fridge, just goes straight on the plate. I am finding ways to use each bit of what we’re growing. Not because it’s scarce (shit you should see how much lettuce we have…come get some. Seriously.)
But because it’s Sacred.
Feet in the dirt, hands tenderly guiding the peas up through the string, snap one off and savor its sweetness.
Serving and being served. This is worship.