Food consumes a large part of my life, my time, my work, my brain, my belly. But it’s not everything. And some days, for a few brief moments, my other work makes me think â€” pause â€” this whole food thing is trivial. Not that it isn’t important. It’s vitally important, and ever more so every day, as food collides with environment, climate, disease, politics, philosophy, everything on this ever-changing Planet Earth. Most days, food ranks right at the top of my priorities.
But some days, I have little appetite. I trundle through places and stories that muddle my gut. Some days, I edit the written works of people such as Masaru Goto, an extraordinary photographer (and brilliant friend), and I see the faces of southern Thailand’s senseless, shameful war.
I feel the chill of Chernobyl, of its people living and dead, in images by Lourdes Segade.
And this week, it was Jean Chung who quieted my hunger, as I compared photos and captions from her essay on women in Afghanistan who die during childbirth. The work has won this year’s CARE international humanitarian photojournalism award. I’ll send you a link when the photo story comes out….
But you see, even in Jean’s essay I find room for the contemplation of food. The young mother in her story was 26, with tuberculosis, before she gave birth and died. Tuberculosis, a disease that killed my grandfather before I was born, a disease long gone from these States now. A disease I see all the time in my travels. How did nutrition, or the lack thereof, contribute to this young mother’s death? How does food, or the lack thereof, factor in any story of our day? Are these concerns for foodies 10,000 miles away? Should they be? Heavy questions, frequently asked, sometimes answered, but seldom with a compunction that brings itself to dinner when the table is set, the plates are full and the mood is easy.