Food. People. Words. Three things that draw us together as humans. Three common themes of everyone’s life. Three topics simultaneously simple and complex.
College offered me an opportunity to explore these subjects academically and personally. I sat in classes where I learned about everything from rhetoric to animal science. I served in student clubs with farm kids and enjoyed many meals with international students.
College wasn’t the starting line for learning these valuable lessons. No, it goes much further back to childhood. My mom reading out loud to my brother and me. Hosting Rwandan college students in our home for holidays and school breaks. Preparing Thanksgiving dinner. My love of food, people and words goes deep.
In my short 24 years of life, I’ve learned so much through my experiences, reading, meeting people.
Be careful what you say about farms until you personally shake a farmer’s hand and visit his/her operation.
Learn how to make 5 recipes really well…
… but cooking is really all about improvisation…
…and there are no recipes, only ingredients.
Pesticides, herbicides and antibiotics are usually used for a good reason.
“Eating is an agricultural act” (Wendell Berry).
Read something every day.
“No animal ever invented anything as bad as drunkenness – or as good as drink” (G.K. Chesterton).
Community is ugly-beautiful work.
Sometimes, you don’t like what (or who) you love the most.
Food is an entry into another person’s story.
Give me hot dogs and beer with friends instead of prime rib and champagne alone.
Organic/”natural” isn’t all bad, and big ag isn’t all good.
Big agriculture isn’t all bad, and organic/”natural” isn’t all good.
“Sticks and bones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is simply not true.
Dorothy Sayers was right. In good stories, the dogma is the drama.
Along those lines, read books and watch movies that show you something instead of tell you something.
Watching good TV shows with dynamic characters and compelling dialog is good… watching them with other people is even better. Three cheers for Parks & Rec, Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey.
When in doubt, write it out.
“The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning” (Mark Twain).
Cultivate beauty. Every day. Listen to classical music. Buy flowers at the grocery. Pluck something out on the piano. More times than not, it will revive the weary soul.
What are some lessons you’ve learned about food, people or words?