Food sustains life, but it is much more than something we need to nourish our bodies. Food at its core is love, life and the heart of society. Food brings people together. They are the shared flavors of friendship and community. We like to be with others enjoying the flavors and textures of food. Often through these shared experiences, intimacy develops, memories exist, and relationships flourish.
We fondly remember childhood food experiences, often wishing to duplicate those flavors that remind us of home. Food is the center of our sense of family and relationships. Certain scents transport us back in time to the people and places that matter to us. We remember family picnics and food festivals.
No matter who we are or what culture we come from, all societies think carefully about the daily preparation of meals for family, friends, or even strangers. Food means love. This is true whether we are cooks or eat.
Food is at the heart of society. We learn to behave in society and interact with others in life according to the type of food ritual we experience growing up. We are connected to others near and far through food. We are interdependent due to world trade and commerce. The food on our tables comes from farmers all over the planet.
Food, more than any other element in society, unites us. Our lives are emotionally affected by food production around the world. In some countries, people go hungry, while in others, people suffer from diseases caused by an excess of food.
A leading 13th century Buddhist philosopher, Nichiren, while in exile, wrote in a letter thanking a follower for sending him food: “Rice is not just rice, it is life itself.” Food is life itself. It is our link between us. Food is love, it is life and it is at the heart of society. Fittingly, the foods that are better for our bodies are also better for our society.