FOOD IS LIFE ~ AND SUSTENANCE
© 2019 by Marsha Silvestri
In earlier posts dedicated to the topic of “Water”, I discuss the “WATER IS LIFE” movement, the ongoing struggles indigenous communities face in their efforts to preserve this most precious and sacred commodity. Their plight for survival has become a universal challenge as water grows more scarce, being depleted and poisoned by corporate greed, political power, ignorance and carelessness. Life as we know it is at risk as the Earth's natural resources are being exploited at an alarming unsustainable rate. This is having, and will have devastating consequences on human life as well as animals, plants and wildlife, unless the world can wake up and generate global massive change before it's too late. A lack of sufficient clean water is resulting in severe food shortages worldwide. Our ability to grow food to sustain growing populations is threatened. This is Part 2 of my previous post “Eating in Season”. Today I focus on our multi-faceted relationship to food and diet within the macrocosm of the global environment.
What is the connection between environmental pillaging, diet and consciousness?
Global warming and accelerating ecological destruction, are both urgent concerns for the survival of humanity today. Ironically one of the greatest threats to food security, is the industry that was proposed to expand food availability – industrial agriculture!
The unexpected results of the commercial factory farming industry have brought us deforestation, increased greenhouse gasses, pollution, water waste and endangered species. GMOs, pesticides and chemical agents are causing die-offs of bee populations needed for pollination of fruit trees and crops, plus other serious consequences diminishing the quality of life, biodiversity and the world's food supplies. (To read more about the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, see my SOS Planet Earth post.) Access to food as we know it is endangered, along with countless valuable cultural traditions. Like the fragile balance of interconnected ecosystems, many important aspects of life are connected through food, which all stand to be impacted if food itself is threatened.
WHAT IS THE ESSENTIAL ROLE OF FOOD?
Food is open to a vast array of definitions, attitudes and beliefs, representing so many things to different people and cultures on many different levels.
FOOD is a Fundamental Basic Need not only for humans, but for all creatures, from the tiniest plants, organisms and insects, to the largest predators, all the way up the food chain. Without food we could not survive for long.
Food is Survival. Our ancestors hunted, gathered, foraged and fished. They ate what was available locally from wild lands, seas, farms and markets or grew much food of their own. They established methods of cultivation, preservation and storage, trading foods and seeds with other farmers, and adapting to challenges of weather extremes. During droughts, famines and harsh climates when food (or water) became scarce, tribes would seek out new lands to settle. Food played a role in migration and the survival of societies.
Food is Culture. The way we eat is passed down from families and cultures. It's part of, and connects us to our cultural identity through generations. How foods are chosen, prepared and served is a reflection of the culture we come from and are raised in, our history, traditions, religions, and even the customs of our ancestors.
Food is Nurturing. From infancy on, we're influenced by the way we were fed, how our families provided or prepared our food, our habits, and how we learned to eat. The nurturing instinct extends to all species of animals, feeding and finding food for their offspring. An abundance or lack of food can impact our sense of security. Children deprived of food, in addition to physical developmental deficiencies, can develop a psychological lifelong sense of fear, lack or poverty, feeling unsupported, unloved. This can lead to anger, desperation or jealousy, where one may feel the need to fight, steal or take from others for survival. Food can be used as a reward or withheld as a punishment. Deprivation issues can result in unhealthy eating habits that can lead to weight problems and other health issues. Overeating can be the result of subconscious fears that there may not be enough to eat tomorrow, territorial instincts, like the lion eating his entire prey all at once, lest another animal tries to steal it. Eating disorders and compulsive eating patterns can stem from a habitual sense of hunger for nurturing, emotional or physical needs.
Food is Nourishment - from the most simple, complete primary food, mother's breast milk, to the most complex meals and scientific formulated supplements. Without adequate nutrition, living beings cannot survive or maintain a robust level of health. The clinical science of nutrition involves the study of chemistry, biology, vitamins and minerals, learning the nutritional contents and properties of foods, how each element impacts physical function, and how to fulfill nutritional needs for optimal health. Nourishment goes beyond suggested minimum RDAs, to the quality of the food, the proper balance of nutrients, and the body's ability to assimilate, absorb and utilize their potential. A decline in the quality and availability of pure, natural nutritions foods will result in a decline in health of populations.
Food is Medicine. It was Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, who coined the phrase, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Throughout history, foods and herbs have been used therapeutically for health, healing and balancing all types of ills. Ancient sciences such a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Ayurveda, and other indigenous herbal traditions, have used food as medicinal remedies for maintaining and restoring health, and also to prevent illness. Indigenous peoples have studied local plants, foods and herbs, discovering powerful potions and remedies, many of which formed the basis for modern medicine and pharmacology.
Food is a Weapon. On the opposite end of the medicinal spectrum, some foods can also be dangerous poison to people with severe allergies or sensitivities to certain foods. Many unnatural foods today are increasingly becoming toxic. Some believe GE foods are actually being weaponized, designed to kill insects and pests, that can be causing health problems, early death and infertility intended to reduce and control populations. Genetic Engineering, promoted to be the salvation of humanity, may actually be the Trojan Horse of modern science.
Food is Balance. In Chinese culture, the philosophy of balance extends to foods of five basic flavors: sweet, sour, spicy, salty and bitter. They represent the 5-elements of nature: earth, water, fire, metal and wood. In Ayurveda, nutrition is based on six fundamental flavors: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent, represented by the Vedic elements, earth, water, fire, air and ether. These are reflected in three “doshas” or temperaments: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. In these systems, foods and spices are balanced by hot and cold, using heat-generating spices balanced with cooling foods, dry or moist, sweet or sour, or foods with varying qualities combined to complement each other and enhance dietary balance. In the Mediterranean diet, known for “long-life” and a healthy quality of life, a variety of food groups includes: fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, eggs, fish/seafood, poultry, dairy, oils/fats (typically olive oil), nuts, herbs, spices and wine, as all part of a balanced diet, with minimal red meat. Most traditional diets include a variety of food types adapted over time that together promote nutritional balance.
Food is Social. Sharing meals brings people together, creates community bonding and camaraderie. Getting together with friends and family usually involves some form of food sharing, gathering around the kitchen table, parties, back-yard barbecues or picnic outings. Restaurants serve as places where people come together for social and food sharing.
Food is Comfort. People eat to fill a need, whether physical, emotional or psychological, food can help us through stressful periods, feeling depressed, tired, sick or depleted. Food can be used as an energy-pick-me-up, to recharge our batteries, or soothe us when feeling lonely, sad or frustrated. Emotional and psychological issues can lead to eating disorders, when food is used as a substitute to fill a void for various needs. When depressed people often turn to comfort foods like ice cream or chocolate, or foods they associated with comfort or feeling good from childhood memories.
Food is Love. Feeding others demonstrates our capacity to care for loved ones. There's definitely some truth to the saying “The way to a man's heart is through his stomach”. Being fed evokes a subconscious connection to our earliest primal memories of being nourished and loved as infants. Giving pleasure to someone by providing foods they love, is an act of love. Food can also become an emotional substitute for love. A generosity of spirit can be reflected in the desire to make sure loved ones are fed and had enough to eat. Mangia!
Food is Passion. For foodies who are passionate about cooking, tasting, exploring and experiencing all aspects of culinary delight, exchanging and trying out new recipes, taking cooking classes, watching food shows, dining at top rated restaurants, being a food critic or wine connoisseur, are some of their interests, passions and pastimes they live for.
Food is Creativity. Cooking involves innovation, experimentation and improvisation. Food is both an art and craft that requires some practice, learning, trial and error and honing of skills. Creative expression can be as simple as changing up a boring recipe, or refined to a high-level specialty, such as becoming a master pastry chef, designing extraordinary cakes and decorations for weddings and banquets. Food as an art engages all the senses, taste and flavors, smell/ aromas, texture and mouth feel, visual delight, using garnishes, arranging colors, textures and shapes on a plate to make a beautiful visual presentation. Even hearing the sounds of sizzling cooking, can be part of the sensual experience.
Food is Celebration. Most cultures prepare special foods and feasts for significant events, the harvest, life milestones, birth-days, coming of age, ceremonies, weddings, funerals and occasions where food traditions are shared among families and community. Various holidays are associated with specific foods to represent good luck, prosperity, bounty, or other symbolic significance.
Food is Service. It's giving, serving, taking care of others by providing their basic needs. Cooks give their time, energy and skills to serve others. They can be parents serving their spouse and family, domestic workers helping those unable to cook or feed themselves, or professional chefs and servers in public establishments. Soup kitchens also provide meals to the homeless and the poor through volunteer service. Many churches and religious organizations provide community meals. The Sikhs, offer Langar (a free vegetarian meal) served to all attendees and visitors after the Gurdwara services, welcoming all, free from any distinction of caste, gender, economic status or ethnicity.
Food is Sacred. Before eating it's common to say grace, give thanks, to offer a prayer of gratitude to God, the Earth, the Creator, or the Divine Source. Spiritual devotion in the preparation of food also plays a sacred role. Many cultures and traditions have rituals and around how food is prepared and served, such as making symbolic offerings to the Gods or deities before eating. Various sects and religions observe dietary restrictions and forbidden foods. Kosher foods are prepared according to Jewish dietary laws. Hindus are lacto-vegetarians, who eat dairy, but abstain from meat, fish, poultry and eggs. In India cows are sacred. They provide milk, an essential food for many Hindus, and their dung is used for farming and fuel.. Seventh Day Adventists eat a plant-based diet, as do many other traditions. Ahimsa (non-violence/non-cruelty), and veganism practiced by several religions, prohibits the killing or consuming of animals.
Food is Energy. Besides providing energy for our bodies, some theories suggest that food itself has its own energy and consciousness. The colors, shapes and forms of many plants contain sacred geometric patterns that may have significance beyond what we now know. Kirlian photography has been able to measure the aura of certain foods as emanating light and color. The Prana or life force in natural organic foods, especially live and raw foods, can have a positive energetic impact on our own energy levels, thoughts, mood and relationship to the planet. In some shamanic cultures, eating the flesh of certain power animals is believed to invoke similar qualities and powers in the individual. It is also a common belief that eating meat makes one more aggressive and insensitive. From eating the flesh of animals that were abused and slaughtered, the fear, suffering and pain they experienced becomes part of the person's cellular memory as well as their energetic or spiritual consciousness.
Which brings us to the topic of “Conscious Eating”.
WHAT IS CONSCIOUS EATING?
Mindful Eating is a concept associated with Zen Buddhism, eastern spirituality, yoga and meditation. It's the practice of being in the moment, eating slowly, paying attention to the experience of tasting, chewing and savoring food, while observing your thoughts and emotions. Mindful eating is a form of meditation. It involves conscious awareness, listening to your body, only eating when you're hungry and stopping when sated or full, when your body signals you've had enough, not overeating or gorging. It also involves being conscious of the foods you ingest, selecting only foods that are healthy for your body. It can also include conscious intent in the preparation of foods.
Conscious Eating adheres to the principles of mindful eating, and also involves ethics of non-cruelty, eating pure, natural foods for optimal health and vitality, plus choosing a plant-based diet as a conscious choice to reduce the destruction of the planet. Food is a factor in the most urgent issues facing humanity today: climate change, global warming and the destruction of the environment. Awareness of how and where your food is sourced, not eating or buying meat and animal products, adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet and not supporting commercial animal agriculture, are all aspects of conscious eating.
Obesity has risen to epidemic levels, not only from overeating, food addictions and eating the wrong foods, but also from poor eating habits. So many people eat on the run, mindlessly satisfying impulsive cravings, addictions to snacks, sweets, junk foods and unhealthy foods. They rush though or skip meals only to feel famished or gorge later. They eat fast foods, not taking the time to cook or prepare healthy foods at home, thus never really knowing what is in the foods they eat. Or they multi-task, eating while focussed on other activities, working, watching TV, the computer, web or talking on cellphones. How many busy moms working all day are too tired to cook or prepare healthy meals? So they pop some convenience food into the microwave, or resort to prepackaged meals. Morning rush with no time to prepare a healthy breakfast or lunch, how many workers instead have a doughnut or bagel at their desk, with coffee, artificial creamers and sweeteners? For lunch millions grab a bite at the local burger or fast-food joint with soda or sugary soft drinks. On weekends if they do cook, meals usually cater to the tastes of children or husbands who've come to expect meat-based cuisine. Obesity also tends to run in families, not so much from genetics, but from all eating the same types and quantities of foods from early childhood onward. Sugars, starches, fats, and metabolism-disrupting ingredients are major culprits. Eating too much food and the wrong foods are all to blame. The mainstream educational system in partnership with giant agriculture industries have brainwashed the masses into believing that meat is one of the essential food groups in the food pyramid.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
Conscious Eating may bring about a new mindset awareness and perspective providing solutions to causes of obesity and eating disorders. A diet of pure organic vegan food may also influence a person's spiritual consciousness, to become more compassionate towards all living things, to be more peaceful, and to honor and respect the rights of others as well as animal rights, the protection of nature and the planet. If more people stopped supporting violence towards animals, perhaps there would be fewer wars and conflict. On spiritual and energetic levels, it is believed by some that meat contains and transmits the energy of the of the animal, as violence, fear and adrenaline from the slaughter, to the body and spirit of the consumer, thus taking on more violent, animalistic or aggressive nature, qualities and spirit. Vegetarians and vegans tend to be more peaceful following a diet of pure, harmonious, or sacred choices of foods.
Food is a Commodity, something of value to trade or exchange money or services for goods. Fast food chains are big business, with franchises rapidly multiplying worldwide. But when giant corporate powers want to control the food supply we are all at risk. Food as a basic human need should never be allowed to be patented, monopolized, licensed or outlawed. Right now the planet is facing possible global food shortages due to industrial agriculture pushing GMOs, animal agriculture and factory farming all contributing to environmental destruction. The insatiable greed for profit and cravings for meat are fueling much of the planet's destruction. The current and growing demands for meat are unsustainable. (see my recent post S•O•S PLANET EARTH for more on this topic)
While there are many theories, conflicting beliefs, arguments, pros and cons for including animal foods in the diet, most health experts agree that a diet of mostly plant-based foods is healthy. Risks for heart disease, diabetes, plus many chronic conditions can be prevented or reversed by reducing the consumption of animal products. Plant-based diets are also less fattening and more economical than meat-based diets, especially when cooking at home.
To help more people transition to a plant-based diet, I created a new ebook and a companion PDF downloadable guide listing 101 Powerful Anti-Aging Foods for Vegans and Vegetarians, that I hope can encourage more people to go vegan or reduce meat consumption for health, beauty, energy and to slow or reverse the aging process.
The PDF guide download is available now from this link: ms.purelifeplanet.com/vegan101-pdf
The book should be available on Amazon Kindle soon. When it launches I will update this post with the access link, so stay tuned.
All the best,
Love & Blessings! ❤️
© 2019 by Marsha Silvestri