Thursday, January 31, 2013

LOVE IS IN THE FOOD

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food."  -- Genesis I.29
Food is love. Or it was. Now we call lots of things food that are created in laboratories from substances non-plant and non-animal. That type of food is not love. That type of food is at best without intent, at worst it is greed and disdain for human health and dignity.

In my life I've had two businesses related to food. The first was a bakery that specialized in whole grain breads. We bought organic wheat and ground it ourselves into flour. Every loaf was shaped by hand. When you shape a loaf of bread, you can't help think about who might eat it. If it burns or is under-cooked, you feel like you've let someone down. If it's perfect, you feel proud. People who came to the bakery would discuss the bread, ask what was in it, make special requests. This was a business that didn't do well financially but was rewarding nonetheless because it involved love and health and it smelled great. I lasted in it for three years.

Later my husband and I had a farmer's market where we sold the apple and peach crops that grew in our area as well as other produce from local farmers. We also sold pies and bread made by local bakers and we were one of the first vendors of Stoneyfield yogurt when it was just a startup.  This business also had a lot of love -- the growers loved growing and the bakers and yogurt makers loved baking and making. Everyone was so proud of what they produced. This was the 1990's, in a small town in New Hampshire. Unfortunately there weren't enough people there who cared about home-grown or home-baked or even about eating produce at all. The vast majority of residents shopped at the chain grocery stores. So after too many years of trying, that business failed.
Mujer de San Juan Mercado, 2002, oil on board
Now in the US there's regained interest in home-grown fruits and vegetables, in homemade foods of all kinds. Our small NH town has a farmer's market on summer Saturdays and I'm happy to see that it's well attended.

But these days I live most of the year in Morelia, a city in Mexico. I'm four blocks from an enormous fresh food market -- a city block filled with vendors of fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses. And here the trend seems like the US of the 90's.

I so relate to the vendors with their artistically piled produce. I know what it is to display fresh food. It's a joy. It's a joy to display it, and then as you sit and watch people pass it without noticing, your heart sinks. Really! Your heart! Because fresh food = love. You can't help but love it when you handle it. Meanwhile Walmart, Costco, and Sam's Club continue to expand around the rim of Morelia selling US processed foods and I worry about the vendors who inhabit San Juan.  I also worry about Mexicans who have started making their meals from boxes and jars, who think their souls and bodies can thrive without real food. By the time they figure out their mistake, San Juan mercado may be gone!

I now have a collection of the recent paintings I've done to illustrate and promote the loving connection I feel to food. Some of the imagery is holy, some is mystical, but all of it is supposed to be cheerful and fun.  I'm posting my foodee paintings in a new blog called Foodeeart, and exhibiting them at the Tikva Cafe in Morelia.




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