Looking For the Shortest Line

The Oxford Universal Dictionary, Third Edition, with corrections and revised corrections 1955
The Oxford Universal Dictionary, Third Edition, with corrections and revised corrections 1955

Why eat? An even more fundamental question than the more common question of what to eat ..

The picture on the left is from my beloved hardcopy of the Oxford Dictionary. The text is hard to read, but it is an etymological definition of nutrition:   The action or process of supplying, or receiving, nourishment.

I tell my clients we need to eat to meet the legitimate needs of our body for energy and substrate. More elegantly expressed in the Oxford text, but essentially the same message. We have good reasons for eating. Pleasure. Taste. We love to cook. Because Mom says to. We have bad reasons for eating. Habit. Anger. Boredom. Fatigue. Loneliness. But the real reason we eat is we need fuel. We eat because we are hungry.

HAMBURGER STAND OFFERS CUSTOMERS A QUICK BITE WHILE WAITING FOR THEIR SUBWAY TRAIN ON THE 42ND STREET STATION, NARA.  Wikimedia Commons
HAMBURGER STAND OFFERS CUSTOMERS A QUICK BITE WHILE WAITING FOR THEIR SUBWAY TRAIN ON THE 42ND STREET STATION, NARA.  Wikimedia Commons

It has never been easy to eat. Having spent enough time living on a farm to appreciate the sizable challenges of subsistence agriculture, I understand how much hard work is involved. Today, we may not have to put our 6 hours in the field, but eating is no less challenging. We have to find time. Time is the problem today for me and for many of my clients.

Grabbing a hamburger mid route provides the fuel to get you where you need to go as this vintage picture of the New York transit station illustrates. When this photo was snapped, the choices were easier. Today’s food courts presents us with so many options. “I look for the shortest line …” seems to be the preferred fueling strategy for the busy, stressed, profession today.

Nutrition, the process of supplying or receiving nourishment, requires work today just like it always has, but the nature of the work is different. Time and knowledge are the problems today. We have tools like calories and nutrients, MyPlates and dietary guidelines. We can learn to cook. And we have what we have always had, our common sense.

Checking the entry in my Oxford refers me to Nourishment which refers me to NOURISH and a Latin root nurtire to feed, foster, cherish,etc. Some things never change. It is just as important to feed, foster, and cherish the people we care most about today as was in the past.

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