I am writing a cookbook. About hunger, and satisfaction; about pleasure, and joy, and the feeling of wet grass on the bottom of your feet. I want it to reflect our collective wisdom, about what food is, about what it does to us and for us. Not only that, but I want it to reflect my unique experience of what I know to be true.
We live in a world where science is deified; it has become our god. Our laws, our lives and our health are governed by what can be broken into small enough parts to be proven. Experience de-constructed beyond recognition, rendered almost meaningless, then occasionally, haphazardly (and often illogically) pieced that back together… until our worldview is a conglomeration of conflicting facts. And down the rabbit hole, for each answered question, there are two unanswered.
The difference between wisdom and knowledge, is that you don’t have to know how something happens, you just have to know it does. You tell a small child, don’t touch the stove, it will hurt, though you may not be able to explain why, not really. What is heat? How does it transfer across air to the skin? Why does the body respond with pain? How and where do we feel that pain? How does the skin become red, and swell? Why do some people get infections, and not others? Who is it that will feel the pain, where is that consciousness?
Standing in front of the stove, there is no time to research and reference your statement. There probably will not be a double-bind, placebo controlled study published in a peer-reviewed journal. It may not have been replicated, and even if it exists, I cannot scour the earth to check that in the time between then and now, someone hasn’t disproven it. I am but one woman. Despite my most earnest wishes, all questions cannot be answered. Searching for the absolute truth is like examining each tentacle of a multi-armed beast, tracing the roots back to the centre of the earth, and when you get there, he says ‘Sit in silence with me’.
If you put your hand on the hot stove, it will hurt. (There is a teensy tiny possibility that you will escape this law of nature and be an anomalous outlier in the collective human experience. But it is highly improbable). You don’t need to make the same mistake. (Though you probably will eventually anyway). Proven or not, published or not, commonly accepted or not, this is what will most likely happen. I know this because I have experienced and witnessed it. The same way I know it is true that if I eat things that my body doesn’t like, I will get fat and sick. And that calories and carbs are irrelevant when you eat wholesome, organic foods.
I’m doing my best to wed science and the universe. We have collected so many ‘scientific facts’, I am swimming in them. They are tangled into a thickly woven web; what we know to be true, beyond explanation, and what we think to be true, based on isolated facts. Watching and feeling my body rebel against the foods the people around me are continually consuming provokes questions. Moving against the grain, standing up to say ‘actually, I don’t think the commonly accepted norm is right, especially not for me’ can sometimes elicit the most haughty demands for facts. Today, I stumbled upon a study which showed that removing allergens from the diet results in weight loss, irrespective of caloric intake. Something I have known to be true. A baby step. A drop in the ocean. A fart in a nanosecond of the universe.
We are mortals. We don’t have much time, and kids, the hot stove will burn you.