Thursday, February 25, 2010

Acknowledge Your Food

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story

Food, as our life source, is truly amazing. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it provides us with vitamins, nutrients, and other elements essential to our growth and well being. Food also supplies us with energy; it brings us pleasure, and is absolutely necessary for our survival.

Through the ages, man has enjoyed countless feasts in the company of others. Not only are meals shared between members of a family, but food is frequently consumed at important gatherings, social functions and community events. Yet, even when one dines alone, the serving of food has been “touched” by countless people along the way. From Farmhands and Artisans, to Professional Chefs and Home Cooks--all are operating with the goal of providing mouth watering foodstuffs for consumption.

While industrialization has provided us with inventions to make our lives easier, food manufacturers have also followed suit. Meals that once took hours or even days to prepare and enjoy are now being served in fractions of the time. And although it is rather convenient to dine on a meal which takes minimal effort and preparation, by making “speed cooking” a regular occurrence, not only do we decrease nutritional value, but we cease to make the indispensable connection between our food and our health.

Nowadays, it isn’t uncommon to see people eating while they are watching tv, driving, and even standing up. And as is evidenced by the food establishments on nearly every street corner, our society is definitely consuming lots of fast, convenient, highly-processed foods. Plus, with our ability to prepare meals more rapidly, we have also sped up our eating pace at home. Today, many meals can both be cooked and consumed in under 30 minutes, so there no longer appears to be any reason to contemplate or appreciate the real importance of the food on our plate.

On a deeper level, what we have actually done over time is to replace deliberation and special occasion with effortless convenience and speedy delivery. It seems as though we have virtually lost the capacity to sit and experience meals in a slow, enjoyable nature and to truly understand the importance of eating nutritionally sound foods in community with others.

Yet, the more we learn about the healing properties of foods, the more it is evident that our fast-paced society needs to take a closer look at the foodstuffs we put into our bodies and how they affect us to our very core. Not only that, but we also really need to understand how eating a wide variety of food serves its own unique purpose and that there are so many tasty choices which are truly healing in nature.

In my opinion, dining shouldn’t just be about filling our gut with the most convenient item we can get our hands on, it should be about thoroughly nourishing our body, mind, and our soul. We should make it a point to choose fresh, healthy ingredients and become educated about what we are putting into our bodies. It is imperative that we learn to value our own health and well-being and choose foods that support us.

Prior to eating, we should also take the time to pause and acknowledge our food so that we can make a connection with honoring the gift that lays before us. Therefore, even if one is currently stuck eating food in the “fast lane,” simply slowing down and giving attention to each meal before it is eaten, as well as while it converts into energy and sustains our life, we may come to understand how eating food is something that should not be taken for granted.