Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space
combine to make this food.
Numberless beings gave their lives
and labors that we may eat.
May we be nourished
that we may nourish life.
Buddhist Blessing for Food
And God said, “Behold, I have given you every seed bearing herb, which is upon the surface of the entire earth, and every tree that has seed bearing fruit; it will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and to all the fowl of the heavens, and to everything that moves upon the earth, in which there is a living spirit, every green herb to eat,” and it was so.
Let man, then, consider the sources of his food: how it is that We pour down water, pouring it down abundantly; and then We cleave the earth with new growth, cleaving it asunder, and thereupon We cause grain to grow out of it, and vines and edible plants, and olive trees and date palms, and gardens dense with foliage, and fruits and herbage, for you and for your animals to enjoy.
This blessing and the passages from the scriptures remind us of the limitless bounty of God mirrored in the abundance of the creation, and our dependence upon other human beings. Buying and eating food are spiritual and moral acts. We honor this limitless bounty when we by food that keeps us happy and healthy. By buying real food –as opposed to heavily processed and artificially sweetened food- we help the food producers to stay in business. The more we buy locally, the less percentage of our spending is devoted to the transport and conservation of the food.
Diet comes from the Latin word diaeta, in Greek diaita , which means a mode of living. This word has the same root as from diaitan ,to direct one’s own life.
It is unfortunate that the word diet, the kind of food a person or a community habitually eats, is almost always associated with restriction: eating less, or depriving oneself of a kind of food.
When we buy food, we may remember first this humorous quote by Michael Pollan: “Don’t eat anything your great-great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. There are a great – many food-like items in the supermarket your ancestors wouldn’t recognize as food.. stay away from these”
In his little new book, Food Rules, Pollan offers more common-sense rules for eating:
“If it’s a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.”
“It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car.”
“Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of your milk.
Most of all, Pollan tells us , we are victims of the ideology called “nutritionism”
“…based on several “unexamined assumptions,” among them that “foods are essentially the sum of their nutrient parts” and “that the whole point of eating is to maintain and promote bodily health.” Moreover, nutritionism has foisted on us a view of a kind of eternal food fight going on in our bodies: “protein against carbs; carbs against proteins; (…) fats against carbs” as well as “smaller civil wars (…) within the sprawling empires of the big three: refined carbohydrates versus fiber; animal protein versus plant protein; saturated fats versus polyunsaturated fats; (…) omega-3 fatty acids versus omega-6s.” No wonder the pharmaceutical industry makes so much money from drugs to combat heartburn. “ Charles Matthews
In the next post we will look at how thin people experience pleasure, comfort, satiety, fullness, gratitude through eating.