“Eating is an agricultural act.”
― Wendell Berry, What Are People For?
After reading Wendell Berry’s essay on the Pleasures of Eating, I doubt that I will ever be a passive food consumer again. Living on Ometepe Island, we are intimately involved with our food. It is a loving, complex relationship from planting to eating… from a terra firma cradle to an acidic churning grave.
We are active participants in the process of food production. Our lives revolve around planting, picking, fishing, harvesting, and nourishing. We’ve formed profound connections between the land and eating, between the rainy and dry seasons, and the lunar planting and harvesting calendar. We know what we eat! And, I’m beginning to think that we are what we eat… healthy fruit loving, vegetable chomping, fresh egg hunting, fish catching, food lovers.
What we can’t grow, a Friday morning vegetable truck delivers to our house. Depending on the season, we choose broccoli, cauliflower, avocados, Chinese lettuce, cabbage, and hot chili peppers from the back of our favorite vegetable truck. “Do you have bananas?” I ask. “Not today,” they respond, “but, we will bring them next Friday.” It is like stepping back into the 1950’s here. This is the way to shop for vegetables.
Carla, a single mother of two, has a tiny grocery store (a pulperia), four houses away. When we want fresh homemade sweet bread, chicken, or the occasional Coca Cola for our rum drinks, I walk up our sandy path to visit Carla. I play with her baby, we talk about the latest news in our community, and I return home with my bag full of cheap goodies to supplement our meals.
For the rare times that we eat out (usually on a shopping trip to Moyogalpa), we usually buy breakfast at The Corner House. Gary and Laura serve wholesome, organic food and fruit smoothies. Everything is homemade and delicious. Their cranberry scones are out of this world!
Seven years ago, we had to leave the island to buy peanut butter, chocolate, spices, whole wheat flour, brown rice, and other ‘gringo’ foods. Now, Hugo’s grocery store makes bimonthly trips to Price-Mart in Managua. They email me before they leave, and I send a list of items, of which chocolate chips are always at the top of the list. Everything else we need, we can get at our local Mini Super in Moyogalpa. Guillermo, the owner of the Mini Super, is a savvy business owner catering to the needs of the expats and foreign tourists on the island.
Wendell Berry states, “Eating with the fullest pleasure — pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance — is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world.” I totally agree. My connections with the land grow stronger daily. Enjoy my food photos!