I would argue that cultivating a connection to food, when coupled with the company and conversation, does more than enhance the experience. It completes the experience.
Traditional food regions -- Italian, Greek, Indian, Middle Eastern, Asian -- are steeped in history. Their foods are as much a part of their culture as their language, clothing or architecture.
It is only here in transient America that we think the food itself doesn't play a role. The melting pot is empty -- devoid of unifying meals. The few traditional foods we have -- Thanksgiving turkey, apple pie, hotdogs -- are more often than not shaped by marketing and mass entertainment. How many of us raise or hunt turkeys, grow apples or even know what's in a hot dog?
Sourcing food within a defined area, like a 500-mile radius, forces us to think about what we're putting in our mouths: Where it was grown, who grew it, and how. It helps us re-evaluate our relationship with food, redefining it as more than just something to fill us up.
When we're connected to our food, it becomes so much more: It becomes sustenance.