I admit that I am tired after a 12 hour flight and three days of talks, workshops, and preaching. I’m sitting here in the Fort Meyers airport waiting the first leg of my flight home. For the past hour I’ve been trying to find something to eat that remotely resembled actual food. I settled on a Bar and Grille, and waited fifteen minutes for a table. I perused the menu and by default ordered a clubhouse—15 bucks. It arrived. “There you go, sweetheart”, as the harried waitress looked right past me and dropped the plate unceremoniously in front of me. The contents were clearly dead. No evidence of life anywhere on the plate. Processed turkey. Processed cheese. Processed bread that was stale. Wilted lettuce. I looked at it in astonishment.
And then felt offended.
How can we treat each other like this as human beings? How could a chef (or even a short order cook) plate that mess and release it for consumption? Where is the self-respect? How could a waitress pick it up under the heat lamp and serve it to another member of the same species. In truth, if I owned a dog, I wouldn’t feed it to him.
I had this fantasy that all the employees of the food industry simply refused to serve food that wasn’t real. (It’s a fantasy. Indulge me.) That wasn’t pesticide free. What if an employee of the hothouse industry tasted one of those revolting tomatoes, and discovered that it tasted like sawdust and refused to package it? Imagine a Starbuck’s barrista refused to use water that tasted like chlorine? Or a meat plant employee just walked off the job when s/he discovered that the animal was filled full of hormones and treated with no dignity. I’m seeing a food revolution, comrades!
Then it dawned on me that it’s not going to happen, for a simple reason. There have been enough generations raised on fake, toxic food who don’t actually know what a real tomato tastes like, or what clean water tastes like, or what humanely treated, grass fed beef feels like in the body. Whole generations don’t actually know the difference. There is no capacity to shudder in disgust or terror at what passes for food because the vast majority of humans in “developed” nations are suffering from food amnesia.
I found myself looking around at my fellow airport travellers, wrapping their eager mouths around the airport fare, and seriously wondered how we are still upright. How is it that we are not all zombies? We are what we eat, the old adage goes. Hmmm…. It makes me realize that a core practice of evolutionary spirituality is learning about the metabolic needs of our bodies. There is no way we can function with maximum “zest for life” or amplify the evolutionary impulse when the cells of our bodies and brains are starved for nutrition. We need to be growing real food, eating real food, and supporting the real food industry.
When the waitress returned for the obligatory check-in to see how I was enjoying my meal, she could see that I hadn’t touched it. I looked at it, and then back at her and told her I couldn’t eat it, and refused to pay for the “food”. No argument. By the time I finished this post, my anger shifted into compassion for the cook and the waitress who were slogging it out for minimum wage. I’m still angry at the owner for treating his customers with such disdain.
And there is a place for taking offence at a food industry that has no thought for the evolutionary needs of our species to be properly nourished.