Friday, October 8, 2010

Our Burgers, Ourselves

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, Epicure and candidate for future Yummish Sainthood

Fans of the original Japanese Iron Chef (voted by the Yummish Council to be The Finest Television Show Ever) will, undoubtedly, recognize this quote from the opening sequence. Most of us are familiar with the cliché that “you are what you eat.” You may have even said something similar like “I'm not really a sushi person” or “He's a meat and potatoes kind of guy.” On one level, we seem to accept the truth of it, but if that were really the case, would we really accept foodstuffs like this?

Mechanically Separated Poultry

The act of eating is, at its essence, brutal. One expression of life, animal or vegetable, is sacrificed in order to sustain another expression of that same life-force. According to Yummish teachings, both of those expressions of life are of equal value. It just so happens that one aspect of the total value of one of those lives is its ability to sustain, through its death, the life of another. That life will, in turn, feed another and so on. (If you think that being at the “Top of the Food Chain,” means we only consume and are never the consumed, there are some bacteria in your belly and mites in your lashes right now that might beg to differ.)

The act of eating is also terribly beautiful. That which you eat becomes a part of you. Its flesh becomes your flesh, its blood, your blood – a true communion. (For more on this theme see the Roman Catholic Church and/or True Blood) Broken down into its basic components, this other life becomes the basic building blocks of your life. Your body is continually recreating itself, completely renewing itself every 7 – 10 years. These new cells are built from what you've consumed. Your skin, your hair, your eyes, your heart, your everything is made out of the apples, the steaks, the Twinkies you've eaten throughout your life.

The Twinkies?

Your heart is made out of Twinkies? Your child's heart?

Perhaps it's time to pay more than lip-service to this fundamental truth: You are literally what you eat.

There are plenty of folks much more eloquent and far less lazy than the Yummish Council who can tell you how far off track our food culture has gone. We recommend the writer Michael Pollan, the films Food, Inc. and King Corn, the book Fast Food Nation, and the future Yummish Saint Alice Waters.

Or you can simply start by asking yourself why we're irrigating the California desert in order to grow the majority of our food supply while the nearly perfect farm lands of Indiana and Kansas produce little but corn and strip malls.

Today's exercise:
Call or write your state and federal representatives and tell them to create and support farm subsidies that benefit family farms and promote public health over the profits of corporations like Monsanto and Yum Foods, Inc. (see above link), two wholly un-Yummish organizations. Shop at your local farmers markets and farm stands. Grow your own food, even in a small way, like a tomato plant or pot of basil. Learn to shop the “perimeter” of the grocery store and avoid the processed and prepackaged as much as possible. Read labels. Get picky. Get angry. Get healthy.

Next: El Dia de Los Muertos

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