The Dirt on Food

“Fuck calories,” says Krista Scott-Dixon (@stumptuous).

“Fuck vitamins. Fuck ‘willpower’. Put real cream in your coffee. And have an avocado too. Your relationship with food and eating is your relationship with life.”

Her book, Fuck Calories and Other Dietary Heresies rethinks nutritionism manifesto-style – it’s a 41 page debunking of dieting BS, distilled down to (in her words) the vodka of life advice.

Community Garden

But out of the context of the soil, sky, worms, mountains, community – with no dirty hands in sight – having a relationship with food is hard to put into practice. Do I whisper love songs to my bananas as I chuck them in the blender? Sleep with coconut oil smeared on my dried out face?


It’s much easier to approach food relationally, instead of transactionally, when you’re living in sync with the natural world, with a garden of your own, a box of seeds in the cupboard, and some farmers up the road, when your local café gets supplies from the neighbourhood chickens and not just the Food Services delivery truck, and when there are actual farmers mixing it up with a host of growers and makers at the weekly Farmers Market.


Food is most nourishing, in my experience, when it is about relationships. With people. The earth. The seasons.

leah and nada

I’m not a farmer or a foodie or a fanatic. I’m not a gourmand or even much of a gardener. I’m just a transplant who has tried to tend her shallow roots in an adopted community as best I could. A kid from the suburbs growing up in a broken family with no deep cultural practices, who wondered if a more connected life was possible.

garden dinosaur chicken

When I read a Michael Pollan essay over a decade ago, I found the authoritative affirmation I’d been looking for. Struggling with existential despair? Paralysed by global inaction on the climate crisis? Take it to the garden.

“The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.” ~ Michael Pollan

Could the rise of clean eating, food porn, entire television networks devoted to food, and compulsively disordered eating, be a symptom of a massive disconnect from the rhythms of the earth, from an absence of dirt?

These are things that interest me. And sustain me, when my brain starts whirring in dizzying directions.

So I was stoked when my long-time editor from Coast Mountain Culture magazine, Mike Berard, invited me to contribute a piece to the newest issue of Kicking Horse Coffee’s online magazine, Full Press Journal.

Full Press 0

Full Press 2

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Photos by Jordan Manley.

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