On a Beach Walk: #62 (Food)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Looking across the water is a reminder that life lives below surface. A large variety of fish, shrimp, clams, oysters, scallops, and more. Of course the listed ones are commonly available food for us to eat. So I wonder, “What’s for dinner?”

Is an ongoing question for you? We ask it, but also laugh about this seemingly eternal question. Although our time at the beach is away from the normal routine of home, “What’s for dinner?” ever looms in our midst. So, why not, I’ll think about food today.

All of us have a variety of likes and dislikes. Some of us are risk takers when it comes to trying different foods, others have a limited menu of preferences. So food: What is it? Why do we need it? When it comes to food, what do living things have in common with each other?

Food – that basic need for all life forms. All the organisms of the sea and the beach need food for the same reasons as people – for nourishment – for the nutrients that either provide energy, act as a building block, or assists in a process. Yes – that’s what carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals are all about.

Food – think of all the cookbooks available – let alone online resources of recipes – all forming a collective of bountiful offerings of culinary delights. Yet, most people limit themselves to a rotation of less than 20 recipes.

Food – Think of the times of our settlers when most ingredients were grown in their own gardens or by other locals. The farmer’s markets of today carry on the tradition of locally grown products, which also seems to carry a greater importance outside North America.

I think of today’s large grocery stores – endless aisles of canned and packaged products that are complete with preservatives, fat, sodium , sugar, and more. Therefore, much of today’s cooking is an act of combining various boxes and cans into a final product.

On the other hand, the food industry today provides fresh fruits and vegetables from throughout the world – a luxury less available during my youth – oranges from South Africa – grapes from Chile – after all, bananas are not grown everywhere.

I think of a time when families ate an evening meal together – and even a more grand meal on Sunday afternoon – whereas today our lives are more on-the-run causing us to yield our food preferences to frozen and packaged products or a wide variety of fast-food establishments.

Today’s life offers many restaurants of a variety of styles and prices without a messy kitchen – well, at least not ours. I find it interesting how cuisines differ not only from country to country, but also from region to region within a country. The fried plate of everything and anything is more common in the US South and the US North. The dishes of northern Italy are different from those of the south.

I think of the abundance of natural food in nature – the corn with its husk but without a label because corn is corn. Let us not forget that corn is a plant – a living thing that also needs food just like we do and for the same reasons. Green plants make their own food by photosynthesis because they can’t catch it or kill it. Animals hunt for food because (and unlike the green plants) they can’t make their own. Whether an organism catches food or makes its own, food’s end result is the same.

Light from the sun is the initial energy source driving photosynthesis, but there are also organisms living in the darkness of the deep sea that can make their own food without the presence of light – but they use the sulfur gases venting into the water from Earth’s core as the energy driving their food production process. Nature’s design is so grand.

It seems food is more complex than many realize, but thinking about food makes me hungry. Besides, it’s lunchtime.  But for now , I continue moving toward the condo because walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.