Cooking: A “Five Senses” Art Form

Every once in awhile, most people, especially bloggers, come across a post that they wish they wrote. As a new blogger (just passed third month), I had not experienced this…until reading “Real Food is Soul Food” by Kristen at She had me when she wrote:

I once heard that cooking was the only art form that uses all five senses. It engages the whole person, and as such rewards the whole person. Preparing Real Food isn’t just about good nutrition or ethics. It’s about becoming the people we are meant to be, becoming more fully human.

In four simple, well-crafted sentences, she boiled down my vision for sustainable food on every kitchen table into something magical, comforting, and hopeful.

Thank you, Kristen, for the great work you do!

For the rest of you, please read this wonderful post. As you do, think about how each of us can put our head, heart, and hands to work in cooking more with friends, family, children. It is one of the keys to unlocking sustainable food on a grand scale.

Rob Smart is a food entrepreneur focusing on regional food systems and consumer retail experiences. He blogs on alternative food systems at Every Kitchen Table and Civil Eats (guest blogger), and micro-blogs on Twitter as Jambutter.

3 responses to “Cooking: A “Five Senses” Art Form

  1. You’ve only been at this for 3 months and you already have “followers”? That must mean that you’re doing a very good job indeed.

  2. Thanks for the shout out, Rob! (And the really kind words.)

    (AKA FoodRenegade)

  3. I loved your son’s idea for O’Donalds! Kids are often more tuned into the world around us than they are given credit for. Their education in their own food choices therefore, has to begin at home, as your son’s obviously has. Cooking for himself and knowing how to nourish his own body and eventually his own family’s bodies is an invaluable gift you and your wife have nurtured in him. What a legacy.

    I thought of my younger son (now 12) when he convinced a CSA farmer friend of ours, to let him work on the farm with the interns for a day during harvest. The farmer was instantly charmed by my boy the first time he met him. It was the night he dropped off our CSA box (a very large box) for the first time. My son opened the lid, squealed and dove in head first to have a look. All we could see was his back side and legs hanging out. Up until that moment, he was a pretty picky kid… food-wise and cleanliness-wise.

    It took the child 2 years from that moment to convince our farmer friend that he was big enough to carry his weight with the work on the farm. When I picked him up after his long awaited day, he talked non-stop for the entire half hour ride home about all he did that day and the fact that he washed off a PURPLE carrot in the muddy bucket water and ate it, right then and there in the middle of the field. He said it was the best carrot… EVER.

    Once we got home, he proceeded to berate me for “holding out” on him about growing our own food… my family (both sides) had been farmers for many generations, up until my parents who had to leave their respective farms as young adults to work elsewhere, but we always had an enormous kitchen garden when I was growing up. I told my boy that the job of “picking dinner” was handed to my sister and I with a gallon bucket apiece each evening. Of course during strawberry season, most of it didn’t make it back to the house and I still prefer stone fruit picked off the tree and eaten immediately, while it’s still warm from the sun. Juice dripping down my chin is one of my fondest childhood memories. We fed ourselves and half the neighborhood from that garden.

    So… we put in our suburban organic garden the following winter and my son has made a serious effort since that time to learn to cook with what we raise, emphasizing experimentation. This year has been tough (my father had a heart attack 3 months ago) and I haven’t had the time to devote to the garden as I would like. Although the child is understanding, his patience on that matter is limited as we’re behind in so many areas. At least our mini-orchard is doing well… bumper crop of lemons (now perpetual), peaches, nectarines, Thompson seedless grapes, limes and oranges. Our two sons gave my husband and I plantable gifts for Christmas last year that were put into the ground this spring: an avocado (self-polinating) for my husband and a red-delicious apple tree for me. Although very cool, I think that the boys conceded to an “eating” apple tree rather than the baking kind, reluctantly, for my sake because I love sweet crunchy apples. Last Christmas they both learned how to make an apple pie from scratch and they would have preferred a Granny Smith tree to have a steady supply in future.

    I should mention that our farmer friend also raises pastured chickens (in a chicken tractor no less), goats, and pigs. We’ve used his eggs with relish (hearty globular orange yolks) and look forward to more. His goats provide milk for his cheese making adventures and the pigs are intended to become prosciutto, parma-style ham, and various other pork products. Once again, my son has been on a mission to convince the farmer that he’s now big enough to learn to raise a pig properly and wants that farmer to teach him. I reminded the child that the pigs are raised to eat and that he’d have to handle the slaughtering of the animal he worked so hard to raise (still too young to do it himself I think). He told me that he KNEW that, but he could give the pig a great life before it was time to go and he’d enjoy the meat very much. In fact he’s already hit up our farmer friend to let him be an intern when he turns 16 and wants him to teach him how to create his own farm. Whoa… who knew.

    Keep encouraging your son AND your daughters as you have. It seems that you instruct by example as well… a fine heritage for many generations to come I think.

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