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Farming and Faithfulness, part 5: You Are What You Eat

 Recently I heard someone quip that if you are what you eat, most Americans are fast, easy, and cheap. But scarier than what we put into our mouths is what we put into our minds .— Marcellino D’Ambrosio

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. — Isaiah 55:2

I came to sustainable farming because of concerns for justice, sustainability and health. I knew that my body was formed by what I ate, and I preferred not to form myself out of ingredients that were genetically modified, tainted with toxic chemicals, nourished mainly by fossil fuels instead of organic matter, or produced by the labor of people working in near-slavery conditions or by the destruction of topsoil. I wanted to eat in a way that allowed my body and my society to be healthy. As food recalls increase and pollution becomes more evident, more people share this concern.

I wanted, also, to eat food that left me feeling satisfied rather than wanting more and more and more—food to delight in, not to stuff myself with. I and others have found slow food more satisfying in this way.

The stories we consume form our minds in the same way that food forms our bodies. The consumer society produces stories—explicit commercials, supposed works of art and so-called news—that appeal to our emotions just as packaged food appeals to our taste buds, packing in adrenaline and vicarious pleasure the way fast food packs in salt and sugar. But if we care about the health of our minds and the health of our society we must look closely at the basic ingredients of these stories. I try to avoid those that build paranoia about people who are not like me, or endless dissatisfaction with my life, my loved ones and my possessions, or a commodified view of sex, because I don’t want those attitudes circulating in my mind and spirit.

I try, also, not to get most of my mental energy from empty calories—to base my diet of stories on those that are substantial and well-crafted enough to leave me thoughtful, grateful or wondering rather than clamoring for more distraction.

This isn’t a matter of reluctant dieting, of constantly denying myself pleasure and plenty. It’s a matter of slowing down enough to find and savor what truly satisfies.

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