What were you doing the last time you ate? Were you actually just eating? For many people, meals serve as a multi-purpose food-consuming/email-checking/news-reading/kid-taming session. But there is something to be gained from mindfully meditating on your food: where it comes from, who was involved in getting it to your table, and the energy that went into creating, transporting, and preparing it. As I found, clearing out mealtime distractions can help one reach multi-faceted satisfaction – mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Practicing such mindfulness every time one sits down to eat a meal contributes to what is known as mindful eating. Psychology Today describes it as “deliberately being fully aware of what is happening both inside and outside yourself, in your body, heart and mind and in your environment” when you eat. It is eating without “criticism or judgement” (Bays 2009).
Firstly, contemplating the role of soil is crucial to appreciating food. Soil is the basis of every meal, and every other product one can find. Author and ecofeminist Vandana Shiva succinctly states “there is no alternative to fertile soil to sustain life, including human life, on earth…[and] no matter how many songs on your iPod, cars in your garage, or books on your shelf, it is plants’ ability to capture solar energy that is the root of it all. Without fertile soil, what is life?” (Shiva 2008).
Recognizing all the other energy that goes into your food is the next crucial step. Next time you eat, honor your food. Realize that it is the gift of the universe. Be aware of the energy and matter than went into preparing, say, a hamburger: the sun, soil and water that sustained the grain for the bun, the sweat of the farmers who raised the cows for the meat, the gasoline that powered the trucks that carried the tomatoes from the field to the factory, and the plastic that wrapped the lettuce in the grocery store before it was purchased.
I tried this as well as other mindful eating practices during my last meal. I engaged all of my senses, appreciating the foods’ colors, smells, and textures. I savored every bite, ate slowly and stopped when my stomach told me I was full. I came to this: food is a wonder, a microcosm of all life right there on your plate. Slowing down and concentrating on the food and the soil that makes everything possible can ameliorate one’s relationship with food. By being conscious of the energy that food represents, we are connecting with the earth that created it – the earth that created us.
Bays, Jan Chozen. “Mindful Eating: Rediscovering a healthy and joyful relationship with food.” Psychology Today. 5 Feb. 2009. Web 15 Dec. 2010. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mindful-eating/200902/mindful-eating>.
Shiva, Vandana. Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis. Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2008.