Every bite counts
At the most basic level, the purpose of food is to provide us with life-sustaining nourishment. But it’s much, much more than that.
It brings us together. Whether it’s time spent cooking or enjoying a meal around the dinner table with the ones we love, food often serves as a catalyst that deepens our relationships with others. Some of the best conversations happen over a good meal, and some of the best recipes are passed down following an afternoon spent with grandma in the kitchen, learning about techniques and family history.
It teaches us about the world. Whether it’s enjoying a conversation with Aoy from Rice Paddy while waiting for your to-go Thai order, cooking from a new cookbook (my husband and I are currently exploring Israeli cuisine thanks to Michael Solomonov’s book, “Zahav”), enrolling in a cooking class taught by an instructor from another country, or traveling straight to the source, you’re learning something invaluable about people and the places they call home.
It helps us construct our own personal identity. The choices you make surrounding food can reflect your personality and can reveal your passions, views, knowledge and resolutions. Our food choices tell a lot about us, and helps us communicate, without words, who we are and what’s important to us. For me, like many others, the way in which I interact with food is an essential part of my being and a central part of my story.
We turn to food in hard times to comfort us, in joyous times of celebration. It determines our health and oftentimes, our quality of life. It’s embedded in religion and politics. It influences our economy. For some of us, it’s a hobby, and others, a profession. It’s deeply personal, yet universally understood.
I’ve outlined just a few ways in which food is important, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Food is significant in so many ways, and it fits differently into each of our lives, shaping who we are and influencing the world around us.
I got kind of a late start in my own food journey. Growing up, I refused to help my mother in the kitchen. I had better things to do, like play in the yard, hang out with friends or just relax. I didn’t put much thought into food at all — it just magically appeared (thanks, mom) on the table and I ate it. Out of sight, out of mind, until the next meal. Repeat until about age 18, when I moved away to college and started dating a guy whose world revolved around food.
We’d spend our weekends eating sushi and watching food & travel shows, wishing our dorms had full kitchens for us to cook in. He opened my eyes to a world I knew existed but never bothered to visit. In the matter of a few years, I went from eating mac & cheese, sandwiches and freezer meals to frequenting farmers markets, creating new recipes and writing a food and restaurant column for MLive.
From there, my love for all things food have evolved even further with my now husband, and for me personally with my current role at the Marquette Food Co-op. As the Co-op’s publicity coordinator, I get to write about and photograph food daily, help implement food programs and initiatives in our community, assist with (and sometimes even teach) cooking classes, and work with my fellow Outreach Team members to spread the word about good food and the significance of our food choices to people all over the Upper Peninsula.
In this column, I’ll write about my personal experiences with food, share recipes and touch on topics like the importance of eating locally and seasonally, food access, reducing food waste and more. I’ve titled this column “Eating with Intention,” because I want everyone to be more thoughtful in their choices surrounding food. I want you, along with me, to truly think about what you’re putting in your mouth and why. Does it bring you joy? Is it helping to make your body healthy? Is it strengthening your relationship with or understanding of others? Is it supporting your local economy? Is it making a positive impact on our planet? Next time you sit down for a meal, examine what you’re eating and ask yourself why. Let’s make every bite count.
Editor’s Note: Kelsie Dewar is the Publicity Coordinator at the Marquette Food Co-op. She loves all things food, and enjoys reading, writing, photography and exploring the great outdoors in her free time. Kelsie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.