Eating Together, the Locavore’s Call to Community

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Books, Community, Family, Food and Drink, Home and Garden, Locavore, Robbie White | Posted on 31-10-2008


by Robbie White

I want to share one of my favorite authors, Tilden Edwards. His book, Living Simply Through the Day was published originally in 1978 and revised in 2007. He brings together Buddhist and Christian teachings advocating for a simpler way of living, attentively and intentionally.

“How we eat is a barometer of our sense of life at the moment.” —Living Simply Through the Day by Tilden Edwards

Tilden Edwards’ words on eating in his guide to simple living in the contemplative tradition remind me anew why I teach table manners to my children and why we try to sit down to a meal together whenever possible. He affirms that one’s satisfaction in a good meal is not to be judged by the abatement of physical hunger alone. A meal should satisfy the need for meaningful fellowship and spiritual connection as well as filling the empty stomach. Consider breast-feeding, which is, of course, the ultimate meal experience, uniquely reserved for infants. Mother and baby spend countless hours of nursing gazing into one other’s eyes, feeling heartbeat to heartbeat and skin to skin. Mother’s milk is perfectly designed to meet the nutritional needs of the baby. The baby learns trust in the spiritual bond created in the nursing relationship. And it is the ultimate sustainable meal!

Alas, eventually we must look beyond mother’s milk for our sustenance.  However, the most basic meal can be as satisfying. I remember one chilly fall day after a friend and I had spent the afternoon leading a bunch of high energy Camp Fire Kids in a meeting at my house. I had made a pot of beef stew for my family and it was simmering in the crock pot. She was trying to gather her tired and hungry kids and head home. I invited her to sit down and eat before heading out into the cold. Together we enjoyed a delightful meal of homemade stew, rolls, and cold milk. I don’t even remember the recipe I used for the meal. We didn’t have fancy dishes or candles or linen napkins, but the food was hot and filling, the company joyful, and the hospitality blessed us all, givers and receivers. I recall that evening as one of my favorite times. My friend headed home with her kids peaceful, smiling, and full.

“[The] sacramental quality [of eating] easily is blurred in the way food comes to us day by day: the impersonal mass packaging of a supermarket, the rush of a fast food carry-out, the press to sell you more.” —Living Simply Through the Day byTilden Edwards

Edwards’ comments on mass marketing of food encourage me to keep seeking out more meaningful ways of provisioning my household. The Oklahoma Food Coop [] is a great help with this.  Many resources exist to find locally produced foods for our tables and products that sustain the environment. Many of them have been mentioned by contributors on this blog. And if you haven't learned about Splendid Table's year long experiment in eating locally, Locavore Nation, check it out soon!  It will challenge you to try just a little bit harder.

One last thought from Edwards on gardening, which is the most sure method of eating locally:

“Growing food allows us to participate from the very beginning: planting and watering a seemingly dormant seed or tiny plant, watching it grow in to maturity, picking this little miracle and using it to nourish our bodies.  Such a process allows us to be a part of that amazing cycle of life.”

As the growing season tends toward autumn, I can only dream of spring. For now, I think I will plant some herbs inside to keep myself connected to the miracle and keep reading Fresh Greens for words of wisdom from my fellow bloggers!

Comments (1)

I am reminded that a pot of soup simmering on the stove and corn bread browning in the oven once sold a house for us to the first people who looked at it! Food, plain and wholesome, nourishes so much more than the body.