What does “real food” mean to me?
Confronted by such a seemingly simple question posed by the Real Food Blog on Yahoo, I found myself at a loss for words. Technically, anything edible could be considered “real” by the fact that it’s physically there, tangible, and therefore part of our reality… But I know in my heart of hearts that it’s not as easy as that. If you had asked me this a week or two ago, I might have hemmed and hawed over the validity of this assumption, and then talked about chemically enhanced and modified food and how they don’t qualify for various reasons… And while this is still true in my eyes, being forced to scrape together the most minimal meals thanks to constraints on budget, time, and availability, “real food” has now taken on new meaning to me. Eating my way through boxes of questionable carbohydrates, the ambiguity of those contents left me hungry- Both physically and mentally- For something of true substance.
When you can look at a cooked or raw dish, any dish, and identify the individual components- That’s real food. If you look into some cold metal can, puzzle over the indistinguishable shapes and smells, well, that’s something else entirely. Even if these ingredients are all natural, vegan, “healthy”… How could it possibly be real if you can’t even figure out it’s true identity? Still, that definition is rather shallow and unsatisfying in my mind. Real food is something that you know where it came from, has a story, has a history, means something to the eater beyond simple sustenance. Anyone can make something borderline edible and take energy from it, live a full and happy life, but to have food that you can enjoy and appreciate, that you can trace back through generations or even just through your own hands and the creativity borne of your own mind… That’s the kind of “real food” that I want to eat. Food doesn’t just happen- It’s a process, and if you remove yourself from that process, then who’s to say that the materials going into your mouth and body truly are what they claim, and can be considered “real”?
That’s what I think.
And maybe I’m not so far from the truth, seeing as the above photo of mine is now featured as Real Food Image of the Week! How exciting!