In Wendell Berry’s essay, “The Pleasures of Eating” he proposes that, “A significant part of the pleasure of eating is in one’s accurate consciousness of the lives and the world from which food comes.” I most definitely resonate with this but also feel there are deeper levels to be discussed. For one thing, who said eating is about pleasure? I would argue that eating is what makes us who we are. I also feel this is a two way street: one must have an accurate consciousness to be able to make harmonious eating decisions but that that consciousness is a direct result from the food one eats. Einstein’s famous theory that E=mc2 is essentially stating that the world we perceive around us, at its most fundamental level, is energy. Matter, light, sound and thought are all merely various wavelengths of vibration. When eating, we are uniting with the vibration of that food. This unity takes place on a physical level, i.e. the calories and minerals becoming our own, as well as a metaphysical level. If we eat animals that have been enslaved for the entirety of their unhealthy lives, we become unhealthy and enslaved ourselves. One may eat to create beautiful major chords, reminiscent of the great composers, or dissonant, competing vibrations.
One can visualize perhaps more clearly what I am trying to convey when thinking about eating psilocybin mushrooms. One’s consciousness is drastically aligned with that of the mushroom for the duration of the digestion. I feel that the same thing is happening when we eat anything, entheogenic or not. The process however is quite a bit more subtle when munching on some broccoli. On one level the molecules that make up the broccoli are broken up by our digestion and dispersed throughout our bodies, replacing depleted areas with vitamins and providing energy through the breakdown of the calories. But that is only the physical level. That broccoli, along with anything else we eat, is providing us with raw life force, something beyond matter that cannot be easily measured or explained. Everything that has made up that broccoli’s existence is stored in the molecular memory as well as a certain amount of life force, which combine to create the unique frequency of that particular inflorescence. When eaten, that frequency will either resonate or conflict with our own and add to the symphony we think of as our bodies.
Dr. Masaru Emoto has shown the world that the water molecule is extremely adept at holding memory (Emoto). He is known for the experiments he has done taking pictures of frozen water crystals after they have been exposed to various vibrations. Usually very simple, subtle things such as a word or color are all that are needed to drastically affect the shape of the water crystal. Most all of the food we eat, especially fresh produce, is made up largely of water, not to mention our bodies. Therefore I feel that food and our bodies are memory devices for all of the vibrations picked up along their lives. One may think that a perfectly vibrant, green broccoli is the most nutritious but what vibrations was it exposed to along its journey? How much life force is in the broccoli and the earth from where it came? Was the purpose of that farm financial gain, or the enrichment of lives? Every little interaction and intention is stored in that broccoli up until the moment it is consumed when it then becomes a part of the consumer.
This is where the two way street I referred to comes into play. One’s conscience may rest easy knowing that the food eaten has been created with the best intentions and produced with the smallest impact on the earth. But it takes a certain level of mental, conscious intention to even have a desire to seek out such food. I feel in my own food journey that the more I eat from the harmonious, life affirming side of things the more I want to continue to eat that way, always pushing my definition of what good food may be. This is important because we live in a most un-harmonious world. Not only is it a defiant act to opt out of the industrial food system as Salatin claims but it is a most radical act to live with the purest of intentions when our culture and its backwards priorities are constantly telling us to be in competition with one another and the earth. The 1% most certainly does not have our welfare or the health of the planet in mind. Many of the conspiracy theories of the last few decades are now common knowledge. Yes, a handful of corporations run the world, yes they are spying on us, and yes the US government lies to its populous routinely. Michael Pollan refers to the veil of secrecy surrounding the industrial food system and many of us are waking up to the fact that the veil is hiding more than just that. How have they been able to enchant us so deeply that we hardly bat an eye at these truths? Perhaps it is the mind-numbing food we have been eating. If we eat the product of a war-crazy, tyrannical food system then we become that way ourselves.
The backbone of this paradigm is that our food is lacking the ideal life force that holds us above selfishness and gluttony. We destroy the earth and exploit child labor so we can have the latest iphone; we look the other way as our government continues to carry out atrocities in our names. We think that food is about pleasure. I would argue that taste is merely an evolutionary tool that helps ensure our survival. Similar to sex, our bodies are wired to enjoy the sensations involved but the point is the continuation of our species and not our enjoyment. Our taste buds have evolved to help us in the omnivore’s dilemma, knowing what is ok to eat. That is not evidence that the sole purpose of eating is for the chemical reactions we crave to take place on our taste buds. What if we ate what was best for our bodies at that moment? What if we ate what was produced in the most sustainable way, dripping with prana and harmonizing ourselves into beings not only ready but capable and grateful for this opportunity to change?
Our culture is so wrapped up in selfish desires that many of us wouldn’t even consider any of these other reasons to eat. We allow our children to be brainwashed by TV ads that quite literally are designed to activate certain hormonal responses in their brains. Edward Bernays, the nephew of Freud, is known as the father of public relations. He himself has said that public relations is simply the P.C. way of saying propaganda. He used his uncle’s insights into our nature (that we are driven by our animal desires) to fuel a completely new advertising agenda that was designed to activate these animal drives in us. That is why things like sex and status are used so commonly to sell almost everything. It’s not that the car is of good quality, it’s that the car will make us cooler and more attractive to possible mates. This strategy tugs at our most basic instincts (The Century). They use these same techniques to sell chemical laden food simulates to our children while stuffing the pockets of their fellow agribusiness men. And then we pay homage to this brainwashing by asking our children, “What do you want to eat?” We allow children endless pickiness with their food in the interest of making sure they eat something. This leads to a generation of obese, food addicts with little regard for their impact on the planet. What if we asked our children, “What nourishment does your body need today to fulfill its duty to the world?”
Rudolf Steiner was the father of Waldorf schooling as well as bio-dynamic farming during his life from 1861 – 1925. He was a man way ahead of his time in many regards. His agricultural techniques not only put into practice the current permacultural practices that incorporate as many natural systems and cycles as possible, creating less work for the farmer and a more harmonious ecosystem, but he also discovered very measurable ways of incorporating more life force into our soil and therefore our food and ourselves. His system is essentially a homeopathic and astrological approach to the land, offering energetic doses of various preparations at the most auspicious time to enable the natural forces to take place more easily, allowing an opportunity for more life force to enter the food. If we think about the effect that the moon has on our oceans through the waves and that our bodies and the bodies of our plant and animal brethren are also made up largely of salt water, why wouldn’t the moon and planets also be directly affecting us? Steiner brings all of this together with where we find ourselves currently as a species:
How can it happen that the spiritual impulse, and especially the inner schooling, for which you are constantly providing stimulus and guidance bear so little fruit? Why do the people concerned give so little evidence of spiritual experience, in spite of all the efforts? Why, worst of all, is the will for action, for the carrying out of these spiritual impulses, so weak? This is a problem of nutrition. Nutrition as it is today does not supply the strength necessary for manifesting the spirit in physical life. A bridge can no longer be built from thinking to will and action. Food plants no longer contain the forces people need for this. (Tompkins)
These forces can be applied in either direction, allowing us the strength and inspiration to make the hard changes we need to make, or furthering our complacent and enchanted state.
Humanity is at a crossroads right now. This moment will either be remembered in history as the moment that our species found the inspiration to do what was right for ourselves, our grandchildren and the earth, or there won’t be a history to remember. What and how we eat is the foundation to this change as well as what led us astray in the first place. When eating harmoniously we are connected to the earth and each other, gaining a compassion and sympathy greatly missing from the current paradigm. In Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain relates his first moment of feeling this connection, “Everything that followed (the oyster) in my life-the food, the long and often stupid and self-destructive chase for the next thing, whether it was drugs or sex or some other new sensation-would all stem from this moment”. The moment he refers to is the first time in his life that he connected deeply with his food and saw the vast possibilities available to us through that connection. I think due to the fact that he was raised in a world shaped by the media, he sought that connection time after time while perhaps looking in the wrong direction. It isn’t the sensations that come from our connection that are important, it’s the connection itself.
This all boils down to some instrumental truths of our world. The word religion is derived from the Latin ligare, to connect. Therefore religion is implying that there is a disconnection from our source (religion = re-connection). I think this is the foundation of the veil that Pollan has begun to unravel. We were never disconnected, but our current enchantment caused by our food system has led us to believe otherwise. Our society teaches us to constantly search outside of ourselves for meaning, but if we understood that our food and earth are part of ourselves, we wouldn’t need to look any further. We have been creating this negative feedback loop with our agricultural system and planetary health for as long as we have been farming, always favoring this year’s crop over the bigger picture of our future and health. Every new plant variety or piece of farming technology has continued us down this path to where we find ourselves now, disconnected and dying. Luckily, the solution is not only delicious, but rewarding and available. When one is united with their place, food and self, the possibilities are endless.
The Century of the Self. Dir. Adam Curtis. BBC, 2002. DVD.
Emoto, Dr. Masaru. The True Power of Water. New York: Atria Books, 2003. Print.
Tompkins, Peter, and Christopher Bird. The Secrets of the Soil. New York: Harper & Row, 1989.