Posted by: DCox | April 4, 2009

Our Connection to Food

Many of us are urban or peri-urban people and we live with a separation between us and our food. We aren’t involved in food production and the closest many of us get to participating in these biological processes is the grocery store and microwave.

grocery-store-aisleA friend of mine has celiac disease – he explains this as his GI system being intolerant to wheat gluten. He was a restaurant a while back and as he ordered, he asked as he often does, whether the recipe contained any wheat. The waitress said, straight-faced and serious, “No it contains flour”. Perhaps this response is not so unusual for city-dwellers.

How did our thinking about food get to this disconnect with the biological realities? There is a lot of dualism in our thinking in general. Religious thinking leads us to believe that we are both spirit and body. However, somewhere along the line we come to believe that the spirit and body aren’t integrated and that the spirit is good and the body inherently bad. That’s unfortunate. God created us out of the earth and to the earth we return. We are biological beings made up of organic compounds. Perhaps the problem arises from our desire as humans to be gods. We unconsciously reject our creatureliness.

Or, maybe we are where we are with regard to food because of our mechanistic view of man. We base our value on performance, economics, efficiency, and the bottom line. This is a goal orientation rather than a process orientation. If we were grounded in our biological nature, we’d understand that life is process. Birth, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, aging, and death. Seeds, death in the soil, rebirth as seedlings, growth, reproduction – new seed.

Wendell Berry, in The Unsettling of America, suggests that there is a profound resemblance between how we treat the earth and how we treat our bodies. We treat the environment as a resource to be used with little or no thought to its need to be rejuvenated. If a biological system is left to itself, there are processes (photosynthesis, hydrological cycle, etc.) that naturally occur and keep the system in homeostasis. Photosynthesis results in the production of plant material that serves directly as food or indirectly as feed for animals. These organisms grow and develop, reproduce, die and return to the soil to begin the cycle again. Maybe because we deny death (especially in a culture that worships youth), we see our bodies as tools to be used rather than organisms to be cared for.

Continued in the next blog…


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