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Pleasure versus nutrients

As I mentioned in my last blog, I attended the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim last month. A highlight for me was a talk by Alice Waters, one of my heroes, who spoke on food as "spiritual sustenance" rather than simply fuel. "Food that's truly good is such a rarity in our country," she lamented. "There's a widely shared and commonly understood assumption that food is only about its nutrients; pleasure and socializing don't figure." Alice mentioned a bumper sticker that nicely, but disturbingly, sums up our culture's culinary approach: "If I am what I eat, then I'm fast, cheap, and easy." Her heartfelt hope is for a rediscovery of the joy of simple, honest food—putting what we eat back into the context of a culture, a celebration of beautiful, glorious food and our great good fortune in being the recipients of those gifts. At the risk of sounding hopelessly sappy, I'd say she was talking about love—love for the Earth, which grows and offers up such amazing things, love for the people who nurture its harvests, and love for our families and friends, for whom we prepare food and with whom we share it day after day.

Her talk made me think really hard—how often do I rush through making dinner for my family with the intent of just getting it done? How can I, as a food editor, encourage a mindset of food as joy AND sustenance, rather than overfocusing on food simply as a nutrition tool? (For a discourse on the rise of "nutritionism," see Michael Pollen's article.)

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

To listen to a podcast from Elisa's trip to Expo West, click here.

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