HOW TO CHANGE YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO FOOD:
So how do you go about actually changing your relationship to food? It requires a shift, a break from old patterns and a shattering of long held illusions. I never said it would be easy. I am saying it makes the reward that much sweeter…the fact is that nothing will change unless you change, which means consciously acting out of the norm when it comes to first thought, and then action. Constant awareness and vigilance lovers. These are skills well worth cultivating, (toss in some patience while you’re at it). Do not expect your situation/environment to change if you yourself are not willing to change. And we’re trying to decolonize and rewind here people! We need to learn to welcome and embrace change with arms wide open and in complete surrender. I hate to break it to you, but it’s sorta our last hope. While thats a bleak prognosis, it healing from the wounds of domestication does not have to be a harrowing or traumatic experience. It can be gentle, peaceful, organic. Grounded and rooted in love, the way Nature intends. So go easy on yourself and your neighbor, but be accountable and responsible for your actions and the the extent to which your energy affects the entire planet mmmkay. It is all connected. That’s one thing both science and spirituality agree on. We are all connected. All is one. experiment with the following suggestions as you see fit. More than anything, ask yourself how each idea feels to you, in theory and practice, which means making room to both enact the practice and reflect on the experience:
- Really understand what food IS. How magical and how powerful it is. This isn’t hard to do if you just take some time to meditate on it a bit, but you must have a willingness and desire to change your perspective. Food is MAGIC, plain and simple. All food comes from plants. Even if/when you eat meat, that meat you are eating is built on….plant food. What do deer eat? Bison? Cows? Plants. But what about animals that feed on other animals? Like bears, sharks, etc? They, like other predators, including us humans, feed on other animals that are alive because of the plant material they ingest. Thus, all diets, whether directly or indirectly, rely on plants. At the heart of ALL food, is the plant. I would really like to hammer this idea home. What is a plant? A plant is a living being that has its own spirit and its own consciousness. Science is proving more and more every day that trees and plants are far more aware than westerners have been led to believe. (Don’t worry, if you have a hard time wrapping your head around this, I will be writing more on this subject in the near future as well as linking/listing my resources for those who like to see ‘facts’ from more reputable sources than myself ;)) A plant is both a metaphor and an expression. It is an expression of life and balance, built directly from the elements, requiring the right kind and the right amount of sun light (fire), water, earth, and air. The seed of every plant contains within it, an entire forest. All life begins with a seed, (remember “Fern Gully”?), and that seed must detach from its’ parent and ‘die’, literally undergoing a period of decomposition within the deep dark bowls of the earth, before re-emerging into the light as a new and transformed being. Then these amazing creations make filter our air, give us oxygen, regulate moisture and rainfall, and feed the entire web of life. They take sunlight and transform it into energy, for us. They are also the source of all health and medicine. Their healing properties have been know to perform miracles. And all of that is not even touching on the issue of psychedelics and what that brings to the table. But moving on…. Think about what eating really is: Taking another life forms body, be it plant or animal, and absorbing that life, that energy and essence into your own body, so that you may continue to live on this earth. Every time you eat understand that someone, somewhere, made the ultimate sacrifice for you. That is love. Food is love, (real food that is). You depend on the death of other beings to survive, no way around it. But once you face your fear of death and your own mortality, you realize what a beautiful and miraculous gift you have every time you sit down for a meal. You understand that you have the ability to heal yourself in every way, on every level, from the inside out, simply by understanding that everything about you is built upon the foundation of your food and what you are allow into your body. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT! I cannot stress this more….
2. Learn to Hunt/ Gather. This is the way humans were designed to eat, based on HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of years of evolution. You cannot totally break away from this fact over the course of a couple centuries and not expect some serious reproductions. Man does not know more than Nature, and try as he might, he never will. Get over it already.
Until quite recently in North American history, (some time around 1492 to be more precise. *cough* cough*). Human beings, for the most part, (the exception being people located along the pacific coastline, where resources were so plentiful there was no reason to travel much), moved with the seasons and tended the land along the way. This was the way it was for thousands of years. And there was balance. But some folks came along, (damn immigrants!) and decided to utterly annihilate this culture and lifestyle and forced an entire continent of human-beings into captivity. Killed all the game, poisoned the water, forbade the hunt, (and the language/s), and forced them to farm the land, stealing and swindling what was harvested, and even making it illegal for people within an family or tribe to share land with each other. According to the new world order, it was every man for himself, and the white man was the law.
Despite what we may have learned in school, agriculture was not humanities holy grail. In fact, when you take a good hard, honest look at history, and the (steadily declining) state of the world and health of humanity since the dawn of the agricultural revolution, you will find exactly the opposite to be true. God didn’t kick us out of the garden, we walked out ourselves to become farmers, arrogantly thinking we could bend the environment to our will. HA! again, more on this later. I’m pretty sure popular consensus would be grinding its’ teeth reading this. Suffice it to say hunting and gathering is not only the lifestyle that is the healthiest for the land and all other non-human inhabitants, it’s actually what provides the most health benefits to us as individuals as well. And is a wonderfully sensual, eye-opening, pleasurable experience. But yes-it is a HUGE lifestyle change. I have a personal goal of one day being able to harvest ALL my food directly from the wild. I have such a long way to go, yet I can assure you I have not found a path more magical or over all soul-satisfying. Start with something small, like collecting wild dandelion, acorns, or blackberries. Start researching local foraging guides and if you eat meat, connect with a local hunter whose views and ethics you can stand behind. Do your research and be your own best advocate. This is a huge yet admirable quest.
3. Grow your own. If you can’t or won’t hunt and gather, consider trapping/gardening. Or at least gardening. Being able to grow your own food is hugely empowering and a huge step towards financial liberation. The more food you can produce directly on your property, the kinder you are being to our planet and your wallet. The less dependent you are on industrial agriculture which is steadily and unflinchingly killing our planet and the souls of her children. Even if you don’t own your own land or have a yard, there is tons (and I do mean tons) of food which can successfully be grown indoor. Start with the essential windowsill herb garden if your scared. You can do it! I believe in you!
4. Buy local and seasonal. The next best thing would be to find a person who does grown their own food at home and buy from them. While the idea of farming at all is still something I struggle with, there is no doubt that small scale local farmers are FAR less damaging to the environment than shopping at the big name grocery store conveniently located just down the road. The benefits are multidimensional, including everything from less fossil fuels being used to acquire it, your money going directly back into YOUR local economy and neighborhood, you getting to meet your neighbors and the people whom you share your ecosystem with, (who knows, you may even find yourself being sucked into some weird hippie community love circle or something. If it feels nice…..), and you will likely be receiving product that is far superior in flavor, (which equates to nutritional value. How convenient!), because the soil quality hasn’t been completely eradicated by over-tilling, improper or non-existant crop rotation, flooded by pesticides, and compromised via GMO’s. If the farmer has done her research and taken the time to restore and possibly enhance soil quality, and if she is growing using holistic permaculture practices, native flora, and incorporating foraging hubs for native wildlife, so much better! In addition, eating seasonally means you are both plugging your self directly into the cycle of Nature and The Wheel of the Year, AND fortifying your body with the nutrients needed to give your health the greatest boost during each successive season. You reworking WITH the Earth, rather than against it. Which any sane person can tell you is a futile effort and insane waste of energy.
5. Buy organic. Finally, if the above suggestions seem to out of reach, (and let me reiterate, they are all quite doable. Pretty much every community has a local CSA program. If everyone stopped shopping at the market and connected with their local farmers/hunters, what a beautiful world this would be!), you can start making the transition to living a healthier life by making sure you buy organic when and where-ever possible. Now please be careful here, as there are a few things to be aware of. Fist of all, the organic title is regulated by the FDA. Always keep one eye open and on the FDA. They are essentially bottom beesh for big name pharma. Contrary to what popular belief may be, I assure you their agenda is NOT protecting the health of US citizens. Plus, getting legally certified as organic is expensive. Extremely expensive. This means that many small farms and local growers simply cannot afford to call their produce organic. It reeks of economic oppression. Especially since organic food can be much more expensive to purchase than non-organic. Sometimes up to 3x more. So who gets to buy and eat this stuff hmmmm? Think about it. Who are the ones essentially forced to eat poison because they cannot afford to feed themselves and their families anything but the cheapest, (most toxic) food they can get their hands on. Yes, it’s a rhetorical question.
That being said, if you in any way, shape, or form, CAN afford to buy organic, even if you have to cut back and make some sacrifices elsewhere in your life, even if you cringe a bit at the price tag on the $9 organic strawberries when the non-organic ones are on sale for $3.50, I respectful request that you buy organic, and do so gratefully and with full awareness of the privilege and abundance you have been blessed with. Why? Organic means that the produce was grown without the use of CHEMICAL pesticides and artificial fertilizers. But let’s be clear here: Many organic farmers use pesticides, and use them liberally. The organic title is concerned not with whether or not pesticides are used, (contrary to popular belief), but the origin of the pesticides used. This means that if the pesticides are deemed ‘natural’, they’re given the green light. And what is considered ‘natural’ and the amount which can safely be used is something that is constantly shifting by FDA standards, (likely due to who is footing the payroll), so BE AWARE. Oh and, strangely enough, the FDA does not track or regulate the amount of pesticides used on organic farms, where these pesticides are often used even more frequently than on conventional farm because they are usually less effective. And here we thought we were consuming pesticide free! Perhaps you should’ve taken the blue pill…
Furthermore, just because something was grown “Organic” doesn’t mean it was grown in a way that isn’t wreaking havoc on the environment. Organic labels don’t deal with issues such as soil quality, GMO’s, crop rotation, etc. Factory farming is factory farming, and the results are devastating whether or not the pesticides being used passed the FDA’s questionable criteria for the coveted ‘organic’ label or not. Again, its all about the money. Many farms are organic not because they care about your health or the health of the world, but because there is a demand for it, and they know they can charge a shit ton more by slapping the word organic on their label which prevent the average Joe from looking into it any further. Don’t be an average Joe. Don’t assume that because you are buying organic quinoa you are saving the world. Most likely, your not, you are simply perpetuating and participating in a broken system that is doomed to fail and take down many innocents along the way. Yet as we previously talked about, it it vitally important that we learn to vote with our dollars, and if we as consumers are consistently making it known via our purchasing power that reducing the amount of pesticides in food and taking care of Mother Earth is something we give a shit about, and our money says so, you’d better believe producers and policy makers are going to sit up and pay attention. We just need to make sure we are holding ourselves and our farms accountable, and not taking the easy way out by buying all organic and then turning a blind eye to the reality of the situation. You still need to do your research to find out exactly where your organic food is coming from and how it is grown. This way, you keep yourself from getting ripped off, and from being an ignorant American who’s lack of information and willingness to outsource all personal responsibility keep you blissfully unaware of the global harm you yourself are helping to perpetuate every time you buy a bunch of chiquita bananas.
6. Teach yourself to love cooking. This has been a struggle for me. Growing up, I saw cooking as a chore. It was an obligation, responsibility, and source of stress. This is of course due to personal family dynamics and not the nature of cooking itself, and this has been an area of continuous healing for me.
As a child, the last thing I wanted to do was help my mom in the kitchen. That was kinda like having to clean my room. I would have much rather gone outside to play or hidden away in a secluded spot to read. Honestly, I still harbor much of these sentiments. BUT- I have also learned to find joy and pleasure in cooking. Food is love. It is art. It is delicious. It is creative expression. It gives life, promotes healing, builds community. What’s not to like? Yes, it does take some know-how. There is a learning curve. Planning and preparation are required. It is time consuming. But remember how I talked about how wonderful and magical food is? Remember that it is your greatest opportunity to practice and infuse REAL magic into your day to day life and to reap instant and gratifying results? Hold onto that thought and enjoy the process. Stop valuing instant gratification and convenience over quality and creativity. If I can do it, if I can change my childhood programing from Cooking=drudgery/work to Cooking=art/sensual stimulation & creative expression, you can too. Trust me, my cooking basis runs deep. All it takes is the desire to grow and a willingness to change.
7. Eat for health AND pleasure. Never loose sight of why we’re here. Each person has their own opinion on this but I believe we are here to both restore the natural balance of this fleeting world, and to experience as much love, joy, and pleasure whilst doing so. This is LIFE! YOU are a miracle! This whole journey should be fun, exciting, awe-inspiring, and yes, expect some challenges. How boring would life be otherwise 😉
Changing your relationship to food does not mean you need to stop enjoying food or eat nothing but organic kale chips and green smoothies for the rest of your life. It means reconnecting to the source of life. To Nature herself, and taking that relationship to new and thrilling depths. You may find you develop a kind of love affair with food and cooking. I hope you do. Relationships that offer that much potential for healing and thriving health are hard to come by.