Why does talking about food make me feel nauseous?

It’s not about the type of food, either – not as if we were talking about eating cow brains or eyeball soup. (Which I know people do. Elsewhere.) No, just a conversation, among friends, about food choices, what we eat or don’t eat; about hunger, in our communities and worldwide; about food politics, organic foods, local foods, genetically modified foods, high fructose corn syrup, gluten, vegan, paleo, Whole Foods, food prices, what we feed our children.

And yep, right on cue, my stomach starts feeling tight and my breathing quickens just a bit and I stop wanting to make eye contact with anyone.

Let’s see if I can make a list of the words that make me feel nauseous. How far can I get?

In addition to all of the above (organic, etc.): carbohydrates, low-fat, high-fat, processed, packaged, reading labels, portion control, anything a skinny person says, weight gain, five pounds, locally sourced, in-season…

and that’s as far as I can get right now, and already I don’t want to let this list out in public.

I’ll say right now: I totally own this. This is my issue, my personal quirk, and don’t let it stop you from talking about food as much as you want. But it’s why I might not join in, and why I might be quietly hoping for a quick change of topic. Food and eating are intensely private issues for me.

…except they’re not. The food choices we make, purchasing, preparing, portioning, partaking, have both immediate local impact and a global impact. What we buy, affects what becomes available for others. What we spend, affects what money we have in the budget for other things. My deciding to order out or go out for dinner instead of cooking, means that much less in our budget for other expenses, for emergencies, for education, for giving. Local choices have global impact.

It’s too big for me to think about. But it’s so big, I have to.

With this in mind, I took a deep breath and showed up at a study called “Just Eating” tonight. The “Just” refers both to the single focus on food, as well as the broad issues of justice regarding community, hunger, and economics which will also be part of the conversation. I don’t really want to be there. I don’t want to risk being challenged to change – or even to share too much. But I trust the people guiding the conversation, and I’m willing to take a few risks along the way…maybe.

Meantime, because I want so strongly to keep it private, I’m going to go over there and click “publish.” Thanks for listening, and I’m not promising any more on this topic. Maybe it’s time to start back with the knitting posts…nice and safe.

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