We’ve spent a bit of time now talking about cuisines, what they are, and what they are not. And we’ve looked at why american cuisine is not healing. Now, lets talk about healing, and what we really mean by a healing cuisine.
Many of us likely share a hesitation when we talk about healing vs curing, or healthcare in general. The politics of healthcare, medicine and personal wellness is somewhat confused and convoluted in the US today. Personally, I think it is most useful to look at a few definitions to guide us in relating to health, healing and specifically healing cuisines.
To begin with, lets agree on what health is. My favorite personal definition is the one we can all most likely agree on, one promulgated by the World Health Organization, way back in 1946:
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
This definition speaks to a broad definition of health and well-being on a full spectrum. Let’s use this to begin to explore what healing might be. Merriman-Webster defines healing as to make sound or whole, or to make healthy again (you can see why we started with health!)
So, a healing cuisine is a specific set of cooking traditions and practices intended to return us to a state of physical, mental and social well-being.
When we consider cuisine versus diet, we can see how by readily defining a desired cuisine in this way we can integrate health in its broader dimensions from the start. A healing cuisine uses the resources of our farms (and our markets) in a broader way, not simply to move reductionist nutrients, but to relate to food in a way that enhances our physical, mental and social dimensions. Cuisine can define preparation and consumption (health is fostered by eating in community, and thwarted by eating in isolation). Our well-being in many dimensions can be enhanced through food…through nutrient consumption, more nuanced and robust micro-nutrient consumption, through a varied menu plan providing nutrients for all aspects of our physical and neuro-chemical health.
A healing cuisine is a more robust approach to so many issues around health which can be tackled by food. The most obvious is overweight and obesity, but much more can follow. Healing cuisines are the answer to the bankrupt, deadening standard american diet (the SAD). Next we’ll further explore healing cuisine, and the diets that are possible in this more holistic approach to how we consume food.