Before, I was of the mindset that food was fuel and be grateful for what you got. I never understood the agony that Brian went through when we were picking a restaurant, let alone the meal he would eat.
But life has changed. I read the book The Raw Food Detox Diet last fall and it revolutionized my palette. I can't believe how much I chop and cook and think about and enjoy food now.
I may finally get it.
In the middle of my personal food revolution, I have learned not only about combinations of food groups and sustainability, etc., but also about how food can affect family dynamics, friendship relationships and personal mental health.
Most of that exposure has been from dear friends of ours who balance food intolerances and allergies everyday. We have friends here in Indiana, some in Wisconsin and Idaho, some in Alabama and Florida who are all dealing with this. It's everywhere. Duh, I know, but I am just now really getting it, as I said before.
One very dear friend of ours is working with her own food intolerances, those of her husband, and now both of her children. Her strength, intelligence and commitment to a healthy family lifestyle are inspirations not only to parents, but to anyone who eats.
I am grateful for her story and her persistence.
Below is an essay she wrote as she learns to make sense of her life, one batch of pancakes at a time.
Every morning, I make a double batch of our family staple, the buckwheat-amaranth pancake. Both my sons breastfeed, but they are getting older. More and more they come to rely on the buckwheat-amaranth pancakes.
Like nursing, pancakes seem to nurture their hearts and souls as well as nourish their bodies. My two and a half year old can feed himself, but he always wants me to feed him the pancakes. We sit on the couch together. He asks me, “Come enjoin my party on the couch, mama!” “Enjoin” must be a combination of “enjoy” and “join.” Now my 10 month old eats pancakes, too. I’m really excited he’s eating! He hasn’t wanted to eat any solid food until a few weeks ago. Now he eats “nahnah” (pancakes) a couple of times a day.
The pancake batter I make is very thin. (It’s my recipe and I’ve decided I like it that way!) I also have to make the pancakes fairly small so the pancakes will cook through before the outsides are black, because they take forever to cook. Since they are small, I make about 50 a day, give or take.
I was once a feminist. And now I make pancakes. Pancakes. I spend a significant portion of my day making pancakes… ¾ cup of buckwheat flour… ¼ cup of amaranth flour…I used to preach every Sunday in three rural churches. I did a funeral for a mother of three the day after September 11th. I was a spiritual leader for hundreds of people. And now I make pancakes… ¼ teaspoon sea salt… ¼ teaspoon nutmeg….
What will my two geese think of me when they are older? Am I a feminist now? I measure safflower oil (2 Tbsp.), organic this time, bought with money we don’t have. Money I don’t bring into the family. And agave nectar (1 Tbsp). And water…lots of water. 1 1/3 cups of water. I bathe the dry ingredients in water. I baptize each batch praying it will give my family a rebirth. When my two sons were baptized, I truly believed God’s grace would enfold them their whole lives. As I pour the water into the batter, I wonder how God will care for them. Over time, God might make them whole. Their spirits are strong! Their bodies are becoming stronger… Like taking daily communion, each meal we eat brings us closer to wholeness.
What will my sons say about me when they are older? Will they think they had a hopelessly backward mother who dropped her degrees and dreams for a 50-gallon drum of homemade batter? What will history say? Sometimes I imagine making it into a history book. Will I be described as a warmed-over version of the stereotypical 1950s housewife? Or will I be a pioneer in the movement to feed our children truly healthy food?
What feminist spends her time making 50 pancakes a day for a family of four? I don’t know. I have never met her. And yet, I think I am her.
They say the personal is the political. Every pancake I make means two cents less to agribusiness, two cents more for justice. Two cents more for love. I make 50 pancakes a day for my children. Making pancakes is my gift of love. It is personal, political, and faithful. It is my maternal response to my sons and my political statement to a fast-food culture. It is my faithful response in a world longing for more love, more care, and more creativity. I am a mom, a feminist mom. And I want to make pancakes for my sons.