Today, most of the food consumed by the world population is supplied by the food industry and we have been removed from the process. Most children when asked where their food comes from would say the supermarket!
A lot of what we eat comes in packages from the supermarket shelves. Sometimes it is even delivered directly to our door. Convenience has overtaken connection and our eating has become secularised. The divine source of our food is hidden from us by means of production, packaging and distribution. The divine source of our food is also hidden from us by a consumer attitude of entitlement. Food is now considered a right rather than a gift.
This false attitude of entitlement has led to abuse of our so called power; the amount of food wasted per year is phenomenal. Society has become desensitised to their connection with mother Earth and her bounties.
If one grew their own food, they wouldn’t waste it. A report from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) states that bread is now the number one food item that we waste. People no longer have to knead and bake their own bread. If we had to put thirty minutes of love and elbow grease into our loaves, we wouldn’t waste a slice.
The less intimately connected we are with our food, the more of it we waste. The more we stay disconnected from what we consume, the less hope we have of ever understanding that we are not all independent separate beings, but an interdependent part of a larger whole. In turn, we will continue to make decisions we think are good for our egocentric sense of self (the ego, I) at the cost of the whole.
In the past, farmers considered Earth to be mother and farming to be a sacred act of worship. They sang and prayed for rain and acknowledged their place in the cycles of nature. The final act of eating was sanctified as prayers were spoken, bread broken and friends and families fed their living with a sense of gratitude.
As these relationships and connections began to be displaced by commerce and greed, the sacred was squeezed out of our food system from the outside in. So how to rectify this disconnection at a time when getting food at the source is so hard or only attainable at a price outside of our means?
Well, how you eat is as important as what you eat.
We may not be able to be a part of the planting, growing and harvesting of food (although if we can be then that is the aim!) but we can cook it ourselves. We can also control our attitude to receiving and eating food.
Ayurveda teaches that the way in which you eat plays an equally important role as what you eat. According to a 1960s study by cardiologist Meyer Friedman, one’s demeanour can greatly alter how the body processes food. Friedman fed a high-fat, high-cholesterol, butter-laden meal to two groups of men: loud, aggressive Type A personalities and a mellower Type B group. He found that the Type B group metabolized the fatty meal more effectively than the “hard-driving, competitive and impatient” Type A group. (Know Your Food Before Time Runs Out) To slow down, appreciate food and consider it a blessing of life, a blessing from beyond is conducive to better digestion and assimilation which in turn promotes a healthy body and mind.
Cooking done in the right consciousness can be a way to reconnect with the divine. Cooking is an art. When you listen to music or look at a painting you feel the emotions of the artist. Similarly, food just like music or art is imbued with the emotions and consciousness of the cook. Normally, we cook for ourselves. However when we cook as an offering to the divine, Supreme Person, then we are connected to the Supreme source and the process of cooking and eating becomes spiritualised. Knowing that we are cooking for someone else can help remove some of the selfishness we harbour in our hearts and can increase the quality of selflessness. Since the process of yoga is meant to purify the heart and the mind and reconnect with the Supreme, cooking with the right consciousness can be transformed into a yoga practice.
Accordingly, when an individual eats such spiritualised food his mind, senses and consciousness get purified of tendencies such as greed, anger, envy and selfishness. One comes simultaneously closer to the divine. This is known as the yoga of eating.
Ultimately, we cannot control the food industry; we cannot change the whole world in an instant. We can however acknowledge the true source of food beyond the factories and in this way spiritualise our food system. When we are connected to the Supreme source then we are plugged into the main power source. Vedic scripture describes this as watering the roots not the leaves. If we accept our food as a gift, cook and offer it with love and honour it when we eat then we remove food from the impersonal consumer industry full of greed, selfishness and exploitation and place it into the spiritual realm of love.
To go deeper into this simple & divine art – and to practise it at home – check out the first in our new “Cooking From Scratch” series of YouTube videos: this week we’re showing you how to make your own mustard. (You can read the recipe in blog form here).
We’re also serving up bite-sized bullets of spiritual wisdom in our Spiritual LifeHacks series every Saturday, as well as vlogging our spiritual journey every day, so don’t forget to subscribe to our channel for more spiritual nectar!
Hope you have a great weekend, see you next week!