We eat when we need to. And often, when we don’t need to.
Many of us are conditioned to eat 3 times a day, hungry or not. Eating is a way to entertain ourselves if we are bored, but this is only possible where having food is taken for granted. Like spoiled children, we seem to have a magical belief that food will always be provided when we need it. And thinking this way inevitably results in waste.
The truth is that people in affluent countries waste enormous quantities of food, whether through neglecting to check freshness, or throwing out leftovers. Restaurants throw food out regularly, as the six-minute award-winning movie called Chicken a la Carte, very memorably, demonstrates: http://www.cultureunplugged.com/play/1081/Chicken-a-la-Carte
Does it seem likely that we will change our wasteful habits voluntarily? Some strong factors stand in the way, such as cultural traditions. Many cultures fully expect to have access to and use enormous quantities of certain food items; for example, large quantities of deep fried food, which uses tremendous amounts of cooking oil, which is loaded with health-depleting free radicals. Few of us have seen how much effort it takes to extract oil from sunflowers or olives… we don’t even think of it. And what is the process of obtaining beef fat? We preserve grand assumptions that we will continue to create enough oil to maintain such eating practices. Moreover, because the essential quality of tradition is about maintaining the status quo, rarely do we question the collective idea of a food tradition, and individually ask WHY we are eating these foods.
Besides the challenge of changing old attitudes about our food habits, a new collective food challenge began only a few decades ago: the assault on food production by large biotech companies, such as Monsanto and Syngenta. They have taken over the way we grow our food. They have pushed genetic engineering technology as the way to combat world hunger by promising bigger yields. Consequently, humans have become guinea pigs by eating genetically unnatural food that is doused with toxic chemicals. We are told we must grow more food from less land, but do we make the correlation between this “urgent” need to grow more food, with the nutritional quality of the food we are creating? To be more specific, currently so much of the raw food resources grown (like soy and corn) are converted into Junk Food…empty calories devoid of nutrition. This perpetuation of non-food production is out of control.
Slowly but surely, many of us seem to be waking up to the seriousness of the collective mess we, humans, have created. On the food front, it is exciting to acknowledge the value of local and sustainable food production. Community gardens and converting our beloved flower gardens into vegetable gardens are happening everywhere, all examples of positive changes regarding our relationship with the food and the land that nourish us.
Embracing fundamental changes is an absolute necessity as food becomes more scarce, which is inevitable. More of the earth’s surface is becoming desert, where food does not grow. The land being used now by industrial agriculture is suffering from abuse and is already nutritionally deficient. We then expect it to produce more and more food!
This begs the question: Is it not time to face our food demons?
Do we dare to imagine that the millions of beef-eaters in the world may have a change of heart… and actually have the courage to look at how the animals they are ingesting lived lives of pure hell in large factory farms, called CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feed Operations). It feels like fans of beef believe in it and follow it devotedly, like a sacred religion. It still seems almost taboo to state the obvious: industrial beef production plays a huge role in deforestation, climate change, water shortages, water pollution, high grain prices, human suffering and the unimaginably abusive exploitation of cattle.
I believe that these unprecedented times require humans to learn to eat less and definitely waste less than we currently do. The good news is, if we eat less, the food will need to be fully nourishing. Instead of perpetuating the worst of our food habits and traditions, eating essentially unhealthy food and eating too much, we will become more conscious of what we eat and why we eat. We will learn to eat only what our body needs. By eating less, we will shed some weight, removing some strain from our backs and knees and will generally feel lighter.
From an evolutionary perspective for the human species, we will connect with the healing energy of the food we take in. This will lead us to making better choices for the planet in all areas of our lives.
Tsiporah is a Gabriolan of 35 years and keen observer of our times and evolutionary potential as compassionate human beings.