One of the things I've definitely noticed since I came back has been a change in my attitude to food. This is very strange because I was a pretty health (give a take a brownie or 4) conscious before left. I think I've always had a thing for gardeners, farmers and people who know a thing or two about food. I still remember my fascination with the live chickens at my grandmothers house in Liberia and how one minute I could be feeding them and the next they could be feeding me. I also remember a trip to a local farmer in Spain, milking a cow and then having that fresh milk as part of breakfast (adds a completely new meaning to 'whole milk')!
This appreciation for the people that grow food and take care of animals, and just generally giving more of a damn where my food comes from grew a lot stronger while living in Sudan. I haven't eaten red meat or pork in over ten years, but I certainly was not tempted when I actually got to see slaughter houses in Sudan. While this wasn't going to change my diet, listening to herders and butchers talk about their days, stresses about the market, and even the process of slaughtering and how to make it a clean and safe practice really opened my eyes. Of course, seeing a chicken being chased by Somehow in the morning, a random sharp cry (dying) while I was working, and then seeing a nice drumstick in the pot for dinner definitely made this point stick home for me.
I also loved the cyclical nature of everything. There, you can't eat mangos unless it's mango season and then you are eating mangos until the last one falls out of the last fruit-bearing tree. There are no strawberries (or a gazillion other fruits) because they just don't grow in that part of the world so you just live without them. And when it's any other time than harvest, you totally feel like you'd give a $1,000 bucks just to even SMELL a fresh green vegetable! If some of you remember my Planting Trees post, you will know how much even the simple act of planting tiny little seeds really fascinated me! For all my western gained knowledge, I can promise you that the Sudanese certainly have me completely defeated when it comes to actually having a clue about how to provide food for oneself!
So anyway, earlier this summer, while driving up to MA, I was listening to an interview on NPR with Barbara Kingsolver (think Poisonwood Bible) who was talking about her recent book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She spent a year basically only eating what she could grow or buy from the local farmers. The interview had me so drawn in that I actually sat outside my friend's (one i hadn't seen in over a year) apartment waiting for the interview to end. While I had no crazy fantasies that I could do the same, it definitely influenced me to pay more attention. So for several weeks this summer, I got to know the local farmer's near my aunts (where I stayed a lot) and got to try new fruits and vegetables, and literally eating the best nectarines and peaches I've ever had. I even went gaga over heirloom tomatoes which basically add a WHOLE NEW MEANING to tomato!!!
Last night I started reading B. Kingsolver's book and besides reminding me of good food experiences in Sudan (which 99% of time DID NOT HAPPEN), just furthers my resolve to be a bit more conscious of what is going in and where exactly it's coming from! Besides the fact that Kingsolver is an AMAZING AMAZING writer, this book is really really good, but if you do have the time to read it, you can at least get a quick taste by listening to this interview.
Anyway - that's my mini ramble about food!