The meaning of life?

I have been on something of a journey of discovery over the last year.  I knew my first year at university was going to be challenging, and also that it was going to teach me many new things…but I didn’t realise it was going to take so many threads from my life and actually weave them together in a way that actually makes sense.

I’ve always had a wide range of interests; hands-on activities like cooking, and sewing, and gardening; artistic pursuits such as embroidery and writing and drawing; physical activities including horse-riding, running, cycling, weight-training and swimming; philosophical and social interests concerning organic and permaculture gardening methods, environmental issues, education,  physical fitness, health and lifestyle,  food, children and families.

Now, finally, it seems that all of these interests are not quite as divergent as I once thought them.  Of course, I didn’t come into the world with them fully developed…this has all happened over the course of my life to date.

The turning point for me this last year was a class in physiology.  We had to write a major report over the course of the semester relating to experiments on the body’s response to assorted levels of Glycaemic Index foods.  This meant learning a lot about the human digestive system, and how it processes various types of food.  This then led to even more research on my part from personal interest, about the food we eat, where it comes from, how we prepare and consume it, leading me down many diverging pathways.

Obviously, a lot of the food commonly available in westernised countries is not very clean- pesticides, herbicides, additives, the way it’s processed, GMOs, and so on – as reflected in the growing rate of food allergies and sensitivities in the general community. In the west we have also managed to develop mental illnesses in connection to food, such as bulimia and anorexia. Obesity, which leads to a whole host of degenerative diseases and early death is another escalating issue.

I don’t think it is a co-incidence that these problems are all increasing, as our relationship with food (especially it’s origins) decreases. People who cook, derive enormous personal satisfaction from the process (good for the psyche). People who then become passionate about the types and origins of the food they cook with, become much healthier in both mind and body (if a trifle obsessed at times).

Then of course, we celebrate all our occasions, small and large, with food. Different holidays have their own specific foods to accompany them. Courting – at least the early stages – is predominantly accompanied by food (e.g. dining out together). Even some more intimate stages of courting involve food…for some people, anyway.

It’s funny how, as the general population cooks less (and mostly resorts to heating up something already commercially prepared) the rise in popularity of cooking shows has soared. Jamie Oliver is on his own personal crusade to lure people back into the kitchen. I do believe that the relationship between people and food is a very primal one, and as our culture tries to alienate us from food, we yearn for it more and more.


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