An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of November 10, 2002
issued from the woods a few miles south of Natchez, Mississippi, USA

ON THE PLEASURES OF
SIMPLE TASTES

During the recent visit with my family in Kentucky I was regaled with several sumptuous meals which included such dishes as an apple salad with walnuts and honey, gooey pimiento cheese, and sweet banana bread. After a full year of hermit fare based on cornmeal, flour, oatmeal, vegetable oil, vinegar, and what I gather from the forest and gardens, the tastes of these aunt-made and grandmother-made foods were nothing less than explosive. Also I drank store-bought herbal teas with industrial-strength flavors.

The curious thing is that after three days these tastes did not please me. In fact, the constant presence of rich food began to bother me. My eating and drinking became like an addictive experience with gross superficiality, like being at the circus too long.

In regular life I delight in the taste of a freshly pulled raw carrot, a hot piece of cornbread smelling of simple cornmeal and hot oil, the mysterious astringency of an omelet based on a certain mushroom. When a meal consists of simple elements you have put together yourself, every swallow has a meaning. It's not hard to make the connections between what you are eating, and Nature and human society in general. There was corn growing, people harvested it and ground, packed and sold the grain, and now you eat it. There was a carrot, you pulled it from the ground and now you eat it. The sun radiated energy that flowed through space, bathed the Earth, the corn and carrot used that sunlight energy to convert air, water and nutrients into substance, and now you eat that substance. One eats with feet flat on the ground, in a knowing communion with the Universe's broad patterns. Facebook Icon.