You are what you eat: eating locally as a magical act

pumpkins in fall

By now, you’ve probably heard the schtick about local food dozens of times: it’s good for you! It’s good for local farmers! It’s healthier, safer, and better for the earth! I believe each and every one of those things, but they don’t include one important reason that I try to choose local foods: magic.

For me, being a witch is largely about relationship. Understanding that everything is alive and connected in ecstatically beautiful and complex ways is at the core of my spirituality. Engaging consciously, deliberately, and joyfully with those connections and relationships is my most fundamental act of magic.

When I choose to eat food grown in the ground near here, watered with the same water I drink, cooled by the same breezes I feel on my skin, I deepen my relationship with the spirits of this land. I allow the land, in a physical way, to enter into my body, to fuel my endeavors, and to literally become part of me. I also give my energy – in the form of my money – over to a farmer near me, who surely is cultivating in her own way an intimate relationship with the dirt and plants and bugs of her land.

When I eat local food, I don’t need charts to tell me what’s in season. I anticipate the first asparagus in the spring, the sweetness of June’s strawberries, the crunch of the first green beans, and then the amazing pop of sun warmed tomatoes. I’m attuned to how much it rains, and whether it’s unseasonably cool out. I think about the state of the soil and what might be running off into it.

So yes, it is good for you and for local businesses and for the earth. But eating local food is also a way of weaving yourself ever more tightly into the detailed, physical life of the place where you live, and honoring the sacredness of the many ways in which that particular piece of earth holds you.

[Also see Sarah’s ‘A Season To Taste’ blog.]

6 thoughts on “You are what you eat: eating locally as a magical act

  1. I have been buying a share at Riverland Farm in Sunderland, MA for several years, part of their Community-Supported agriculture program. Going there on Saturdays late spring to fall, cutting flowers and picking tomatoes in their fields, and planning recipes to use our share is something I can't imagine NOT doing. Thank you, Sarah, for helping me see it as part of my magic.

  2. Nicely said. I do agree that local food is magical, it tastes subtly better. Will I give up my avocados because they do not grow here, probably not, but I do now pay attention to where things come from including my milk and dairy products. This article will remind me a little more to do that.

  3. @Moira: There's a farm called Enterprise that's at some markets around here and does a neat thing where they work with an “East Coast foodshed.” That means they have citrus and avocados from Florida (which is way closer than, say, South America) in season!

  4. I love experimenting with organic techniques. A lady bug lure protected my roses. 1 lb. of sugar per 100 sq ft fed the bacteria in my soil and supercharged my plants as a fertilizer. Cayenne pepper garlic and soap killed nasty things when necessary, even a hornet flying at me.

  5. I just tried leaving a long comment, but the “system” wouldn't let me post. I love the philosophy, Sarah, and wondered whether local means the country, the county or town where you live; within a certain number of miles??? I love to shop at a store called Earth Fare which sells local, organically grown food. I have just found Earth Spirit; I surely wish we had such a group in my area. Blessings, Nightraven

  6. @Vickie, everyone has their own definition! The strictest definition I've seen commonly used for “local” is “grown within 100 miles of your home.” Some people include local producers — people or small businesses who make cheese, yogurt, bread, pasta, etc — and some people don't.

    My philosophy is to do the best I can, and opt for things that come from closer to home when possible. What's reasonable for me has expanded over time, as I've assimilated new ways of cooking and eating into my life.

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