Wendell Berry says that in order to counter the decline of rural life, we can eat responsibly. So the process of nourishing our bodies, if done in a certain way, can actually promote the wellbeing of others. Of our neighbours. Of our land. Which means that eating actually brings us into relation. Berry calls this something. Affection.
Eating with affection. Eating as a process of peacemaking.
I don't know about you, but eating has not always been an act of affection. Often it has been linked to shame. Eating the wrong things. Eating too much. Controlling and restricting. Tightening the grasp on nothingness. Isolation. Trying to eat to become nothing, to reduce my presence.
Rather than nourishing the body. Deepening the interconnection between face and place.
I mix the oats from the local grocer in with the crushed fruit, honey and oil. Recognise the need for the different ingredients. The need for the farmers, for the rain and sun. All of the hands helping along the way. And all of a sudden, I feel so small and rich and dependent. The moralisation of food melts into thanks. I feel the affection of the act. Receiving what I can't produce myself from a stranger, who is a neighbour.
Wondering where the affection will spread next. Who will this bread feed? What meals will we have? Who is hungry? The responsibility brings me deeper than shame. Shame about what I can and cannot do. About what is right and wrong. Brings me back to its beginning, its growing. And back into the community that nourishes one another.
Berry, W. (2017). The World-Ending Fire. London: Penguin Random House.