Food sustains life, yet it is so much more than something we need to nourish our bodies. Food at its essence is love, life and the heart of society. Food brings people together. It is the shared flavors of friendship and community. We like being with others enjoying the tastes and textures of food. Often through these shared experiences intimacy develops, memories exist and relationships thrive.
We fondly remember childhood food experiences, often wishing to duplicate those tastes that remind us of home. Food is at the center of our sense of family and relationships. Certain aromas transport us back in time to the people and places we care about. We remember family picnics and food festivals.
No matter who we are or from which culture we come, every society gives careful thought to the daily preparation of meals for family, friends or even strangers. Food means love. This is true whether we are the cook or the one who eats.
Food is at the heart of society. We learn how to behave in society and interact with others in life-based on the kind of eating ritual we experienced growing up. We are connected to others near and far through foods. We are interdependent because of global trade and commerce. The food on our tables comes from farmers everywhere throughout our planet.
Food, more than any other element in society, binds us together. Our lives are emotionally impacted by food production around the world. In some countries, people go hungry, while in others, people suffer illness caused by an overabundance of food.
A 13th-century Buddhist leader-philosopher, Nichiren, while in exile, wrote in a letter thanking a follower for sending him food: “Rice is not simply rice, it is life itself.” Food is life itself. It is our link with each other. Food is love, life and at the heart of society. Fittingly, the foods that are best for our bodies are also best for our society.