Ride like you eat: a protest against calories.

Cherry Blossom on the CU campus

It’s a mystical thing, that little calorie. It’s the unit of measurement of adventure. Life runs on it. Each pedal stroke and foot strike is calorie driven. The places I go happen because of the calories I consume. But it’s still a mystery to most. Maybe it’s best that way.

I overheard a conversation about calories that got me thinking. “It’s easy to count calories. They’re written on the side of food”

No, they’re not. Calories are written on packaging, and packaging means that you’re buying something that might not be food. The vegetables I buy don’t have calories printed on them. As I cut into a fresh loaf of bread, splinters of crust flying away from the knife, no calories are present. The brown paper that wraps my bacon before it hits the cast iron pan does not have units of measurement on the side. It’s a good thing. Food should not be quantified, segmented, compartmentalised into no more than a number value. Food isn’t a measurable thing.

To reduce a meal to it’s energy demands is like riding and bike and only telling someone how far you rode. What about everything else? Who did you say hello to? What colour were the leaves overhanging the shady road? Was the water flowing high in the river? The melt of spring finally bolstering the run-off? Food is unique and ‘one-time’. Each meal to be enjoyed just once, and every reproduction an experience in itself. Each pedal stroke up Flagstaff, the climb i’ve ridden countless times, is separate and unique and unconnected from the last. Every apple I bite into is new; never to happen again.

Calories mean little. It means as much as the miles ticking by on a bike ride. An interesting but useless measure of something achieved. A successful reduction of a beautiful thing to a simple, boring, number. A number ready to be filed away, analysed and compared.

Make sure your meals aren’t compared and analysed. Make sure they’re social, interesting, and above all seasonal. Let your food guide you through each month. Ensure the scenery is ever changing – invite new friends, new ingredients, new paths to a familiar place.

Calories and Miles don’t make stories. Characters and Mountains do.