How we choose to nourish ourselves is deeply significant. Food provides our bodies with the means to think and act, to heal themselves, and to reproduce; in short, to fill the measure of their creation. Proper caloric intake is only the beginning of our need for nourishment. The quality and variety of our food, and our skill and intent in preparing it are vital to our well-being on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. Food was intended by God to “please the eye, . . . gladden the heart, . . . strengthen the body, and . . . enliven the soul” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:18-19)
One’s relationship with food (which of necessity must be renewed daily) can be a source of joy and fulfillment, or of frustration and destruction. The ancient and perennial rite of eating taps into our deepest personal and collective memories. It is no accident that food proscriptions and parables are interwoven in the fabric of religions. Christianity’s sacred rite of remembrance is nothing more nor less than a meal shared by believers.
Reduced to its essence, food is our own daily portion of the sun’s life-giving energy. This energy passes through plants, possibly animals, and finally through the hands of the preparer. Each imparts something of himself and his life to the finished meal. It is not difficult to understand, then, the importance of organic, mineral-rich soils, humane and natural animal husbandry, and preparation methods that preserve and even enhance the nutrient content of our food.
In a culture where the twin gods of overindulgence and self-deprivation reign supreme, a harmonious relationship with food is not easily achieved. It is as if we have lost our faith in the true nature of food, and can view it only as a guilty pleasure or a necessary evil. Our apostate condition is evident in our flight from fresh foods to processed concoctions and our endless search for the most taste with the fewest calories.
To re-cultivate our belief in the wholesomeness of food, we must take care that our food comes to us unadulterated by harsh processes that strip out valuable nutrients and replace them with toxic substances. We must forget the false dogma that taste is inversely proportional to nutrition. And we must approach the act of preparing food as an art, and an expression of love and appreciation for nature, for our bodies, and for God, from whom these exquisite blessings flow. Only then will we be able to approach our table as an altar of nourishment, and partake with frank, untainted ecstasy.