Food writers are meant to show us all how easy it is to swan around farmer’s markets, and how cheap it is to buy locally-grown organic ingredients that have no exploitation in the supply chain, won’t harm the environment, and were harvested by happy angels.
But sometimes, food is a real pain. Not only do I sometimes not want to cook; very occasionally, I just don’t want to eat at all. There’s nothing in the presses. It’s a busy day at work, struggling to make deadline. Almost all the easy, ready-made options are unhealthy. I don’t want to go make a list and go to the supermarket or shop or market, not least because I don’t have the time. I certainly don’t want to have to order food in, because it’s too expensive and definitely unhealthy. And I don’t want to go out. And I can’t think of anything I want to eat in any case.
Most of the time, I do love eating; it’s so much more enjoyable and creative and delightful than all the other necessities of life, including sleeping and breathing and drinking and staying warm. Anyway, there’s no escaping it, really.
Or is there? Intermittent fasting, where you go without food every now and again, seems like reasonable idea, not just for health reasons but, like a lover you take for granted when you see too much of them, to help you realise what you love about food, and to make that reconnection. Nice work if you can manage it, but try struggling through a work day on an empty stomach.
I’m fully aware that this rant is more than a tad indulgent when there are people in the world who die of starvation and would love to have the luxury of moaning about the cornucopia of food around them. Maybe we’d all be a bit more grateful if we went without every now and again – a basic idea behind the principle of fasting for both religious and secular traditions including the annual Islamic fast of Ramadan, which is followed by the festival of Eid. I’m not religious at all, but during this Lent, I’m drawn to the simple asceticism of fasting as a way of learning, being more grateful, and ideally raising a few bob for charity while you’re at it.
Numerous charities run sponsored fasts, including Trocaire’s annual sponsored fast, which takes place this year on March 29. Bothar are currently running a schools fast. And Concern runs regular sponsored fasts. But you could do a sponsored fast for any charity at any time. Next time I whine like a brat about the inconvenience of having to eat, I’ll hopefully remember the day my belly rumbled and cried and went empty.