I am currently three days behind on my Gratitude Challenge. I was to have made public thanks for my food through verbal expression and pictures. I keep forgetting. The verdict is grim: I take food for granted.

Supernova image

Iron: from Supernova to Salad

It’s not that I don’t love and enjoy food. As my favorite creator of homilies, Cactus Bob, says, “There’s something about food I really like.” He makes a mean chile relleno casserole and some orgasmic pies.

So in order to complete this challenge and not skip this assignment, I may have to bend the rules a bit. Perhaps I can alter my thankfulness for food by approaching it from another perspective.

Who do you really thank for food? (Let’s skip the religious catch-alls, since I am not religious, and I’m a splitter, not a lumper (that’s a biology reference).)

Ultimately, food is energy. All living things take in energy to maintain their form, to grow, to heal injuries, to interact with the world around us, and to make more living things. Humans use energy to think,to create, to make music. Ultimately, all our food energy comes from the sun and from the atomic bonds that are broken down and reformed during fusion to provide that energy.

So my first thanks goes to the sun, Sol–central star of our star system–and to the sub-atomic physical forces that release so much energy to rain down upon Planet Earth. Ah, sunshine, the source of all life. (Okay, there are a few sulphur-based life forms that get their energy from geothermal sources, but I don’t eat those.)

Iron: from Supernova to Salad

The next source I must thank is chlorophyll–plants. Whether you are carnivorous or vegetarian, all the energy you derive from your meals comes from plants. Whether it’s corn-fed beef, salmon that ate aquatic critters that fed on plankton, or tomatoes straight from the garden, all that energy from the sun had to be grabbed from the ether and transformed photo-chemically by a plant into the organic bonds of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that we can use.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “thank your lucky stars?” I must thank the stars, dead ones to be precise, and especially supernovas. A multitude of common and uncommon elements are required for specialty processes in our brains and bodies. Take iron for example. It is central to our ability to carry oxygen around in our blood. And every single bit of iron in our blood came from our food. But ultimately (there’s that word again) all of the iron ever came from the death of a star in a supernova. So I thank supernovas.

Lots of people participating in Celestine Chua’s Gratitude Challenge have thanked the truck drivers, farmers, grocery store workers, cooks, and moms and dads who have produced, grown, prepared, transported, and cooked our food. I am thankful for every one of them. I am thankful for the animals that have given their lives and freedom that I might live. I am thankful for the chefs who have devised a million subtle and overwhelming flavors so that I might enjoy the experience of eating and tasting my food instead of eating scientifically formulated People Chow.

I am thankful for gardeners and geneticists and scientists who figure out ways to make plants more productive and to feed more people in our overpopulated world. So when I look at my egg white, tomato, and spinach scramble today, I will see all of them–and the sun and the stars, and the fields, and the rain. Hello and thank you!

Celestine Chua’s 14-Day Gratitude Challenge; Day 2, Thanks for Food