Motivations and Inspiration for the Creation of Mezzacello

This is the Motivations and Inspiration for the Creation of Mezzacello.

This is a very personal blog post.

There is a graphic image of me at a very vulnerable time in my life. But it speaks directly to my passion and commitment to Mezzacello and the food systems experiments I conduct here.

Here is a happier photo of me. It also speaks to my passion and commitment to Mezzacello and the food systems and experiments I conduct here. I endured and I am inspired by that, so join me.

Motivations are very personal things sometimes. The motivation for Mezzacello – specifically the food generation component is very private and personal, but worth sharing to prove a point. I have lived without the ability to eat and forced to go hungry for a week due to circumstances that made the issue of food access and security very real for me.

The Backstory: What Happened

When I turned 35 years old I started having great difficulty swallowing solid food. Long story short, I dipped down to 54 kg (120lbs) because I could not eat. It turns out I have a genetic anomaly with my immune system that destroyed my esophagus.

After my bloated esophagus blew up in my chest, and an emergency surgery to replace my esophagus with my descending colon failed (it was deprived of blood flow and consequently also exploded and spread gangrene throughout my pleural cavity)

The result of these medical emergencies was that I was placed in a 4 month coma while they dealt with catastrophic septic infection. That had real-world impacts.

The Fallout

When I woke up, blind, partially paralyzed and unable to take any food or drink by mouth I was really bummed. I also had a feeding tube that passed through my abdominal wall into my stomach directly to provide nutrition, liquids, and pain medication. The feed that was pumped into my body twice a day cost $900 a month.

It was then that I asked my dads if I could stay with them. They had electricity. I needed power to get nutrients that I could hardly afford and required a prescription to obtain.

Jim Bruner

A New Paradigm

This was not covered by insurance, don’t get me started on insurance. I quickly burned through my savings just paying for the privilege to eat. Cheap food was not an option.

For two years I lived like this. I would walk into bakeries and restaurants and just sniff – longing for tasty food. I’d stand in front of the refrigerator and just imagine chewing anything.

During those two years I also had to deal with the hole in my neck where my saliva drained. Yeah, you can’t stop saliva – it’s automatic. I wore Kotex pads taped to my neck (I called them “Throat-Texes”) many thanks to the many women that made donations of boxes of Kotex pads.

I had the coolest mutant ability: I could shoot liquid out my neck! Killer party trick.

This is also why I started wearing bow ties – to hide the throat-Tex taped around my neck and discourage unsolicited questions. It was easy for me to tie and keep tightened so I did not have any accidents.

Collateral Damages

But I also lost two teeth. When you don’t chew your saliva doesn’t properly clean your teeth. During this time I had to learn to see, read, talk, walk, and laugh again. This is also how, why, and when I learned Tai Chi.

One very cold winter the power went out for a week. I needed power to eat; the pump that forced pressurized feed into my stomach had no battery backup. I couldn’t get the feed to go into my stomach without a pressurized pump. I went four days trying to get feed into my stomach before a friend offered me a gas-powered generator.

It was then that I asked my dads if I could stay with them. They had electricity. I needed power to get nutrients that I could hardly afford and required a prescription to obtain.

Food Security and Food Deserts

My point here is not to solicit pity or sympathy. It is to point out why food security is so very, very real and important to me. I saw firsthand how precarious our modern food production and distribution infrastructure is.

I see clearly the true costs, purpose, and value — and chronic waste — of food. As a result of the miracle surgery at the @ClevelandClinic I can now eat most solid food.

The Privilege to Eat Means I HATE Waste

Quality Education and Sustainability

I hate to see food waste. There is so much of it. I am not preaching or demanding that you do anything different other than show empathy and awareness. I am showing what action looks like here.

Reflect on the food you eat; is it worth the empty calories, the waste, the fat? Are you powering your miracle body with the best? What can we do differently?

I have been challenged to stay alive. I have also been blessed with perspective, inspiration, and purpose. This is my mission, and Rick is right there with me.

I love my life, my husband, my job, my community, my friends, my strengths and my flaws, and myself. Welcome to Mezzacello. This is my why.


  • Kathy McIntire

    I have lupus and I am currently experiencing “dystrophic esophageal dysfunction”….basically cant swallow properly. Choke on my own spit, you know the fun all too well.
    Reading your story ( shared with me by a mutual friend Cornelia Sproat), has given me perspective and hope.
    I know they cant just ‘fix” me, but after reading your story, maybe I can start by fixing myself a bit….
    Much love

    • A

      Kathy: I am so sorry that it took me so long to find this comment. You can get through this. I am glad we got to connect via Facebook Messenger at least.

  • Johnny DiLoretto

    I did not know this Jim… Wow. Thanks for sharing your struggle and experience. And thanks for the good work you do!

    • A

      Yeah, I like attention, but sharing out this bit of my life is hard. One day i’ll Write a book, but until then i’ll Stay discrete.

  • Christian

    I am in awe. And in silence. Pondering. Feeling humbled. And inspired.

    I find myself wondering what emotion you’re feeling and what ideas feel more possible now that you’ve fully shared this part of your life story.

    I can only imagine. And feel privileged you’ve already shared all of this.

    Thank you.

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