A friend’s mother used to say that she would rather spend money on food than on doctors. She was an old-world mother, but she presaged the American belief in food as medicine. We can somehow fix things with food in this culture, for good and for ill.

I do the lion’s share of cooking in my family, not because we’re very traditional, but because my husband’s repertoire is limited to one item: chicken soup. It’s easier for me to cook and him to clean up than to give him cooking lessons, and stack the dishwasher myself.

I don’t obsess over food, and don’t want to give the impression that I do, but I’ve noticed myself thinking of food less in terms of what we enjoy than what it will do for us: lower my husband’s cholesterol, keep my daughter healthy, be “anti-inflammatory” and keep my prematurely arthritic joints supple for a few more years.

When did I stop enjoying food, and start thinking of it as a pharmacy? Even though I don’t consume a lot of mass media, I can’t help thinking of meat in terms of “pasture raised” or “carbon footprint.” What about BGH in milk? Pesticides on produce? Should I be training my little carnivore to appreciate black bean burgers to prevent heart disease for her 60 years hence?

Would it be irresponsible to put down my “awareness” for a while, and just enjoy a meal?



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