Fresh Watermelon: A reminder of the hierarchy of food needs

CSA week 10


The fresh deliciousness of a watermelon has just reminded me that not everyone is so lucky as to have this sort of access to amazing food.  Where do I go from here?

Our CSA is now in week 10.  And  you guys?  We just got a freaking WATERMELON in our box!!!  That’s it there on the left, split open amongst all of our other goodies for the week.

Now the only reason I bring your attention to this dear little melon so happily is that I don’t think I’ve ever TASTED watermelon quite so fresh, crisp, or delicious.

Normally, I love the outer edge pieces of any watermelon that Adam D and I get, while he aims for the center and more red pieces that, to me, usually taste a bit starchy or like moist sawdust.  But when I bit into a piece of this little guy I was blissfully taken away for a moment to a place where the center of melons were delectable treats, crisp and flavorful and juicy.

I’ll be honest.  I’m not sure that even with the second one we had the foresight to buy in addition to our box that the fruit will last long under our “tender mercies” in the Round Shape household!

Here’s another glistening peek at this fruit, before we hacked it into cubes and gobbled a bit up right then and there!

Watermelon next to peeled corn


I have to admit that Adam’s sad-face when he realized that I would be fighting him for the pleasure of those center pieces with these melons was absolutely adorable.

In a switch of mental gears, though, to me this was just another reminder that often the food that is easily and inexpensively available is not nearly at its flavor peak.  We had to join a special co-op venture, for which we needed money and the time (both to drive there once a week for pick up and to then clean, store and use everything each week), to take advantage of the beautiful tastes available in things like this watermelon.  Not everyone is so lucky.

This made me think of Sociological Image’s post on the Hierarchy of Food Needs.  To quote from the post regarding the many ways in which the basics of food needs are overlooked in the mass appeal to simply declare that poor people/fat people are just too stupid or not paying enough attention to eat the “right” foods:

food needs hierarchy

My little melon? Would be right up there under "Novel Food"

The graphic suggests that getting enough food to eat is the most important thing to people.  Having food be acceptable (e.g., not rotten, something you are not allergic to) comes second.  Once those two things are in place, people hope for reliable access to food and only then do they begin to worry about taste.  If people have enough, acceptable, reliable, good-tasting food, then they seek out novel food experiences and begin to make choices as to what to eat for instrumental purposes (e.g., number of calories, nutritional balance).

As Michelle at The Fat Nutritionist writes, sometimes when a person chooses to eat nutritionally deficient or fattening foods, it is not because they are “stupid, ignorant, lazy, or just a bad, bad person who loves bad, bad food.“  Sometimes, it’s “because other needs come first.” (Bolded emphasis is mine, quote and graphic from Sociological Images)

Really, the fact that I’m even ABLE to marvel at the taste of this wee melon compared to the “mediocre” versions at the grocery stores speaks volumes about the rather comfortable situation in which I find myself: access to enough, decent, good tasting food; able to move that one step further to trying new food experiences such as farm-grown food sharing plans.  The very fact that this sort of access IS a lucky privilege and not a basic, fundamental RIGHT, is what really chafes my ass*.

And now I find myself facing the very same questions I come up against over and over: where do I go from here?  Once realizing and coming face-to-face with the reality of just how UNFAIR the system is; what steps make sense at this point?  Is this when I find some sort of advocacy groups online to join to help address the fact that, as the Fat Nutritionist declares so bluntly, Other Needs Come First in regards to food? Do I find some collective of people working to lobby for better, more consistent access to ENOUGH food, let alone “novel” food?  Would doing that just make me some sort of food vigilante?  It’s a delicate line I think, between realizing there is a distinct problem in access and figuring out what to DO with that realization/information.

Does the first step involve more education on my own part?  Likely.  What do you do when you come to this point and want to find some way to break the cycle and help MAKE things better in regards to access; when just blogging about life being unfair is no longer enough?

What do you do?

*That and boy-short cuts of underwear.  Seriously. WTF?

2 thoughts on “Fresh Watermelon: A reminder of the hierarchy of food needs

  1. I was just thinking about something like this. You know how people always talk about “comfort foods” and “special treats”, which usually include chocolate and ice cream and your favourite meal from back when your mother was still cooking for you? I realised that my own list includes a lot of fruit and veggies. Yes, I think of fruits and veggies as “rare treats” and some even “comfort food” because I freaking LOVE them, but I just don’t have access to them often. In my case this is more due to a lack of energy rather than time, but money plays a part, too.

    Let me repeat that I love them. I certainly don’t need to be told to eat more of them. I wish I could.

    • Tiana this is what frustrates me; because if only the focus would stop being so much on “We must inform these ignorant folks!” and could be more on, “Hey, lack of access and prohibitive costs need to be addressed!” then I’d think all of that hot-winded energy spent talking about how so many people just “Need to be told what to eat” could be spent IMPROVING the means for us all to DO so. Since, as you pointed out, we all already KNOW (and likely already LIKE) to eat fresh fruits/veggies, etc. *sigh*

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