Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Nourishment doesn't have to cost a lot

It’s Blog Action Day today. That means that thousands of bloggers around the world will discuss a single issue to use the power of the web to “raise awareness, initiate action and to shake the web.” This year’s topic is: poverty.

I think about poverty a lot. Growing up, our family didn’t have a lot of money. But my parents found ways to make the situation seem less dire. We always had a big garden, so we had plenty to eat in the summer months. And it was so exciting as a little girl to watch those cucumbers grow before my very eyes into something that was nourishing and tasted good. We didn’t always have the latest fad toys our friends had, but we did have soaring imaginations and so instead of playing with dolls, we built forts and moss fairy houses in the woods. One luxury we did have was the wide-open landscape of Vermont and Coastal Maine. So much exploring to do! Another luxury we had was our parents' unwavering love. We always ate dinner together, no matter what was on the table. That's a luxury I will never take for granted.

Now that I work in the foodie world, I think a lot about nourishment and how it relates to money. The fact is, good food costs a lot of money. But I don't think lack of money should ever be an excuse for living a life without nourishment. Here I'll tell you why. I found this piece that I wrote last year. I like it because though we didn’t have much growing up, it never felt like we were ever in need of nourishment. With a little imagination and resourcefulness, we were the richest and best-fed kids around:

What does real nourishment taste like?

Does it taste like an expensive meal? Does it taste of discovery or love or nutrients? Does it taste like a childhood story?

There was a crucial moment a few years back when I learned that nourishment has many manifestations. Nourishment for the body, for instance, tastes and satisfies in a very different way than nourishment for the soul. A meal that fills the tummy can in other ways leave you feeling very empty.

During that particular time in my life, I was eating very, very well. I was in good company. I was in a constant mode of discovery. But emotionally speaking, I did not feel nourished. And for that reason, my stomach was in constant turmoil.

Nourishment for the soul and nourishment for the body go hand in hand.

Nourishment does not necessarily mean an expensive full-course meal at a nice restaurant. On the contrary, the best and most memorable meals are the ones you scrape together with what you already have in your fridge and your garden (if you’re lucky). Perhaps because there’s an even greater summit to reach, the taste is that much sweeter.

Growing up, we never had much money, so we had to be very resourceful. If I wanted cookies or cake, I would make them from scratch. That’s how I learned to bake. It’s also how I learned to be experimental in the kitchen—mixing unusual flavors and ingredients to make something tasty.
I’ll never forget running out to the garden patch and plucking a cucumber from the vine. We would eat them skin and all—still warm from the sun—dipped in vinegar and salt. A poor man’s salad to be sure. But nourishing to the core.

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