scrooge hidden personality who despises over consumption and scoffs at presents, Thanksgiving in my family is beautiful.
A couple of weeks ago, I started reading Michael Shut’s, Food & Faith: Justice, Joy, and Daily Bread in preparation for discussions on Prindle Reading Groups for next semester (yes, it was one of the books chosen). The compilation of essays by writers and philosophers like Wendell Berry and Elizabeth Johnson resonated with me in their poignant descriptions of food and spirituality, how eating good food somehow brings us closer to the earth or god. Religion aside, I believe in the soul power of good food.
Author Thomas Moore introduces his essay, The Poetics of Food with the sentence: “The soul is not a mechanical problem that needs to be solved; it’s a living being that has to be fed”. Moore continues his essay stating that food for the soul includes a family dinner, a long walk, or late-night conversation, those still points in the turning wheel where we find time for reflection or debate.
All of Moore’s “soul foods” share a degree of effort and simplicity, which seems uncommon in everyday life.
My family spends our Thanksgiving holiday at our farm just outside of Campbellsville, KY on a bend of the Green River. It is a celebration of family and food that I experience at no other time of the year. The majority of my relatives are avid hunters and fishermen/women, outdoor enthusiasts, naturalists, or environmentalists, so when we all get together for a week, we cook for hours the food we hunted earlier on the farm, we gather elbow to elbow around a table to eat, and we stay up late sharing stories and playing endless games of Euchre.
These annual rituals, care and attention to food gives the holiday an unintended spiritual component. The soul food that fills us up is a welcome reprieve from long work days. I know Thanksgiving has disgusting numbers in terms of turkeys slaughtered, grease fires, and waste, but I like to think that many families are returning to the basics and enjoying an unprocessed holiday that refreshes and strengthens the body and soul instead of weighing it down.
I think a huge change will come in the food movement when people stop being so concerned about the numeric caloric value of food and focus more on this idea of a soulful caloric value. Calories stop being a concern for weight loss, when the food you eat is simple, wholesome, and energizing for the body and mind. I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, but an abundance of “soul food” will always be at the top of my list.