During my month of eating in, I came across a few statements from Achai ben Josiah. Back in the second century, this biblical scholar compared someone who buys grain rather than growing their own to “an infant whose mother has died and who is taken from one wet nurse to another, but is never satisfied.” He called the wayward souls who purchase bread instead of baking their own “as good as dead and buried.” Only one who “eats of his own produce” is truly fulfilled. Achai extrapolated this from references to the land in the book of Genesis. I’m sure his own context – in an era when all but the wealthiest were directly involved in food production – also played a part.
Yet, these ideas felt right to me, even in a 21st-century life not driven by literal interpretations of the Torah. I knew I would find satisfaction in my challenge to eat in (no takeout orders, sit-down restaurants, or coffee from a barista) for the first month of the new year.
At the dawn of the new year, I found myself with a stocked kitchen, a few reusable sandwich wrappers, and a giant knot in my stomach. I had resolved to spend the first 31 days of 2013 eating in. That meant for the month of January, I would eat only food made at home or bought minimally processed from a grocery store. I was destined for four-plus weeks without restaurants, coffee shops, take-out, or Starbucks. And I didn’t feel ready. The knot came despite the fact that I had resolved to do this weeks before, and despite my rule that I didn’t have to actually eat at home – I could bring homemade food wherever I went.
What I lacked in preparation, I recouped in reasoning.