How deeply do you contemplate food? I never used to give it extra thought beyond a statement ("I'm hungry."), a question ("What can I eat?") and an exclamation ("Yum!"). Those were the carefree days before we knew the difference between BMI and BMW, and eating local meant ordering from the Chinese restaurant around the corner. Back then, it never crossed my mind that certain foods gave me a sense of identity or that other people might judge my social status by what I ate. And I never gave a second thought to the ecological cost of a hamburger and fries.
Such blissful ignorance is nearly impossible today. Turn on the news and listen to the debate over the use of food for fuel, the growing obesity pandemic, and chemically-tainted baby formula. Glance at the cover of a woman's magazine and read excited headlines promising fail-safe diet strategies. Look at your grocery bill and try to remember if a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs were always this expensive.
What's the message?
I've absorbed so much of this that my relationship with food is now defined by a tangle of neuroses. I count calories, pinch pennies and fret over my part in damaging the global ecosystem. It almost certainly disqualifies me from being considered a true epicure. After all, how can I fully appreciate the taste of finely-marbled Wagyu beef when I'm worried about my waistline, wallet, and the waste of fossil fuels? How many bona fide foodies measure their breakfast yogurt every morning and weigh each meal against caloric and fiscal budgets?
My food scale = a breakfast of conscience
I want to love food the way a dedicated gourmet does - free of guilt, restraint and over-analysis. Perhaps this is the reason for my fascination with the ephemeral qualities of food - the memories, emotions, motivations and implications. By understanding these connections, maybe I can finally untangle myself.