Last Friday was a warm March day, over seventy degrees, and I opened the screen door while I cooked dinner. The kitchen filled with earthy breezes, the radio’s banter, and the sound and smell of sizzling free-range beef. I mixed cheeses, layered pasta noodles, and sat down to read in the breezy kitchen while the lasagna cooked. When mealtime came, my family ate on the front porch and lingered there even after we’d put down our forks.
I think these kinds of scenes are close to what agrarian author Wendell Berry had in mind when he wrote his essay “The Pleasures of Eating.” He laments Americans’ reliance on the corporate food industry because, among other things, this industry has created meals and food that take true pleasure out of eating. Diminishing our reliance on multinational food corporations by buying locally-grown food, looking for the organic label, gardening, and cooking from scratch have all become part of the trend of “going green.” No doubt this has become even more the case since the documentary Food, Inc. made more people aware of food industry practices. Wherever you find yourself in the midst of this trend, it can be easy to look at going green as just another thing to do, another standard added onto your life. Berry’s essay made me think that changing my habits to make them more compatible with earth’s design shouldn’t be done out of compulsion or peer pressure, or even with a sense of deprivation. Berry writes about the American status quo:
‘Life is not very interesting,’ we seem to have decided. ‘Let its satisfactions be minimal, perfunctory, and fast.’ We hurry through our meals to go to work and hurry through our work to ‘recreate’ ourselves in the evenings and on weekends and vacations. And then we hurry… through our recreation–for what?
Widespread recycling, reusing, and buying locally will be good for the environment. These actions should also–as Berry says– make life’s true satisfactions plentiful, constructive, and savored. Going green will be a passing fad unless we feel that these changes make our lives more interesting and our days worth lingering over.
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If you’re looking for a way to make meal times more interesting, here’s a recipe for a spaghetti sauce that will fill your home with the scent of ripe tomatoes and will definitely interest your taste buds. If desired, before serving, cook, chop and add Italian sausage to the sauce.