Here in America, the land of the plentiful –- we have an abundance of food. And a number of places to get the food: stores, restaurants, gardens, and farms. The latter, unfortunately, are the least likely places most of us get our food. Our connection to our food is severely limited. Our knowledge of our food, not much better.
When I think about all the food choices I have I feel pretty spoiled. I mean, I get to eat whenever I want and almost effortlessly. My biggest challenge usually is what am I going to eat? The choices almost make it more difficult. Sure, I have to go to the store, select, buy, and prepare the food. But, really that’s pretty easy.
I think back to the Incas. They were some pretty sophisticated thinking people, especially when it came to agriculture. They developed hand made tools to cultivate the land. They worked in systematic groups to plough the fields. They were very in tune with nature and crop seasons. Since they were so close to their food they planned their meals according to what was available at the time. They weren’t guaranteed maize or quinoa year round. It wasn’t every day they successfully hunted a Llama.
They worked hard for their food. They understood how valuable, precious food was to their survival. They didn’t take food for granted. They appreciated their food. They even chanted and sang while working for their food. Food was at the heart of everything they were.
We are a culture obsessed with food, but we don’t honor food the way the Incas honored food. Am I suggesting we return to the ways of the Incas? Well, yes and no. I’m suggesting at the very least we start honoring nature, the animals, and respect the seasons. And, perhaps we could stop complaining about a simple trip to the grocery store where we get to chose from all sorts of goods. Never mind they aren’t in season. Perhaps we could take some time and cook food from scratch at home, and enjoy a sit down meal together every now and again.
It’s a far fetched notion to return to the ways of the Incas, but at the very least let’s be more mindful and conscious of our food, and food choices. At the very, very least remember it hasn’t always been this easy.