What is food consciousness?
Food consciousness is the awareness that food is the currency of life. The web of life is a food web, woven through the nutrition cycle. Food embodies the gift of the sun, the gift of soil organisms, the gift of the pollinators, the gift of the farmer.
Food is life.
The right to food is a right of all earth beings, including all human beings.
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The Indigenous Vision
Tawana Kariri-Xoko Fulkaxo
This is indigenous vision, what I share. By indigenous I mean what I am and what is in me. The importance of the food we eat. Food is a very important part in the life of a human being. Food is understanding. We have to grow that understanding together, always respecting the plant and the animal we eat.
When you are ready, grow plants with love. Pay close attention to that cradle of love that is the exchange happening every time you feed, because only when you feed well can your health be good.
Today it is totally different as there is little understanding. We live in a society that consumes but does not feed, because although we put things in our mouth that we call food, we do not know what these things actually are. So that's it, that's what I see in this culture of great agribusiness. That is the question of consciousness, or lack of consciousness, which results from the condition of people who live without actually knowing where their food comes from, or what it actually is.
Why do we perform rituals? To understand what we eat, to gain consciousness. Ritual and prayer are aimed at god, who gives us good corn, beans and the other things we plant. We give thanks every time we eat, to the Mother Spirit that keeps our body alive with the earth, to be able to be fortified in the spirit. Because food does not only nurture the body That is only the old physical part. We need more strength, right? For spiritual fatigue. This is very important for us, the food of the earth nurtures both our bodies and our spirits.
Talk to God to gain a sense of respect, to find your consciousness of how life flows from one living being to another, the flow of spirit. This understanding is what our people keep. This spirit full of consciousness. We need consciousness to address the challenges we face, the deforestation and river pollution, the lack of food sovereignty and the impact of agribusiness. These forces seek to take away consciousness from the body and spirit of people, in order to leave us blinded, so that we may have to pay money to those who seek to control food production, and thus keep us in this dark maze. Money does not pay for consciousness, only work and struggle with the earth does, only respect and understanding.
In general, people today are very ambitious, and are losing their way. They allow the great agribusiness and supermarkets to blind them from the awareness of what food is, the spiritual understanding of food, and in this way, cultures forget the very basis of respect between sun and water, between elements and plants, between plants and animals, between humans and the whole world that surrounds us.
Rituals will bring us back to a loving understanding. We will realise that everything that feeds ultimately comes from the earth, and has a meaning, and therefore seeks understanding.
Nicolas Salazar Sutil
The word ruminate means to chew on ideas, to try to make sense. When someone dies, when you break up with someone, when an injustice is committed against you-- you ruminate, that is, you chew over the problem trying to make sense. Like cows, we chew and chew.
So, I am chewing on this: where does a cow go to chew up the injustices committed against her in the name of food?
Cows are not food, they are cows.
The Narcissistic Eater
Nicolas Salazar Sutil
As I was about to start writing this entry, I noticed my name. Nic is short for Narcissistic. It is about time I come to terms with this fact, and this nasty part of me hidden behind broken mirrors.
In fact, until a good friend of mine pointed this out to me, I did not know what the word 'narcissism' actually meant. Her and I were discussing someone else, and the word 'narcissistic' came up. My friend asked me: "Do you know what narcissism is?" I said: "I guess, so. It's when you are in love with your own image?" She said: "no, on the contrary". "Narcissism is when you have no image of yourself, when you are broken and frozen inside".
A few months ago, as I was dealing with a heartache, I wrote a story about a man who is seeking solace on a lonely beach. A stranger appears before him, standing against a pale sun. At the end of the story, the stranger turns out to be a stone. Don't ask.
My story may be nothing to write about, but there was one interesting thing about it. The troll explains to the beach-goer something significant. He explains the meaning of consciousness. The stone argues that consciousness is a moment. It is a flash of time when the eye of the heart opens.
The moment of consciousness, according to the stone, only happens when the heart is full. If the heart is empty, its eyelid remains closed. In other words, a person with a broken heart will never open their eyes.
Narcissism is an affective deficiency. If a heart has a hole in its very core, for instance, if a person's self-image was broken during childhood, then a narcissistic personality will most likely emerge full of cynicism, coldness and a permanent inability to see with the heart. What a loving eye sees is not the self but others. Narcissism, as I have come to understand the term, has to do with an inability to open the eye of the heart; it is a blindness to others.
A person who is forever broken inside and who cannot see themselves due to a childhood stigma, least of all can see others. They must hide their own inner self, and instead seek superficial admiration, adulation, sexual gratification, food and drink, to try to fill an emptiness that cannot be filled inasmuch as it is existential.
That heart with a hole in its centre, where the eye of affection should have been, is not only the opposite of love; it is the opposite of consciousness. The narcissist will never understand why he or she keeps breaking other people's hearts. They will never learn, because love will simply trickle down the hole in the centre of their being, and the eye that should have opened when the heart is full, the mind that should have known, will remain shut.
Along the lines of Christopher Lasch's classic book The Culture of Narcissism, I would argue that we live in a culture of "diminished expectations", where we do not care much for love-- we do not believe in family, parenting, long-term relationships, because we are replicating the same broken experience from our past wherever we go. That moment in the past that fractured the very kernel of love has become our default self.
We eat, not because we are hungry or in need of fortification. We eat because we have a hole in the heart. We eat when we are bored. We eat and drink when we are watching Netflix. We eat any time of day regardless of whether there is food in the fridge or not-- just call Deliveroo. Call the pizza guy. Twenty-four seven availability of food and drink is the norm.
We do not eat food, we eat food-like products. We do not drink to remember, we drink to forget. Food and drink have become our last escape.
Chocolate bars, crisps, chewing gums, fizzy drinks, wines and beers. Out of season mangoes, palm oils, coffees, teas and avocados. These may all be culinary examples of what psychologists call "narcissistic supply"-- stuff to fill the gap. Thus, we consume without consciousness of the impact our frenzied eating and drinking is having on the planet.
That is what narcissism is: an inability to observe boundaries, respect and contrition. We have become narcissistic eaters, unaware of the pain caused by the production of all the food and drink we consume.
The narcissist, remember, is empty. Like a gargantuan, hollow belly that cannot be filled. She or he is forever anxious for more fast stuff to fill the broken self-image. Because society itself is shattered from within, our cultural mores reflect nothing more than a mass inability to confront systemic deficiencies. We are failing to see our lack of inner fullness and lack of spiritual wellbeing.
Excess sex, alcohol and drugs are the signs of cultural narcissism. As is the supermarket meal-- these are not foods for the soul but supplies for narcisstic life on the fast lane. The soul is fed by something else altogether: a slow burning nutrition only earth can grow through physical, mental and spiritual nourishment.
To eat, one must be full already.
Next time, I will make sure to eat when I am thankful. Love filled, grateful for what is given to me by the Great Mother. Then, when I am full of that blessing, when the heart is up to the brim, then I might open my eyes, and in the fullness of consciousness, I may learn how to give again, or should I say, love.
Until then, I am just another Nic.
Learning with the Seasons
Nicolas Salazar Sutil
Quisukutran mapukutran, Pewenche saying
I have been thinking about the relationship between human health and the health of forests. The Pewenche proverb above can be translated as: "disease of the spirit is disease of the land." The opposite applies to health. Health of the spirit is health of the land. In other words, there is no human health without healthy forest, and there is no healthy forest without healthy forest humans, where health is understood holistically as physical mental and spiritual.
One way to understand how this connection happens is by paying close attention to cycles.
Seasons are a good example of the connectivity of health systems. Among most forest cultures, by which I mean cultures that do not count on industrial agriculture or production of crops all year round, food is available seasonally. Forest communities that understand ecological subsistence will know that food is scarce during certain periods (dry season, winter, etc). If the forest is thin on food, then a forest culture must respect that the cycle of the seasons does not always involve availability and plentifulness- which is why the thinning may be punctuated by cultural rituals of fasting, reflection, dead worship or contrition. Rituals can be cultural markers of season, and ceremonial opportunities to allow the forest to sleep and rest, for soils to regenerate, for living things to slow down.
We live in a culture that does not respect or learn from seasons. We live in a culture that is forever fast. Fast food. Fast trains. Fast life. Instead of understanding the physical and spiritual sense of cycles, as a pattern of life giving and taking, slow and fast, modern culture understand seasons as commodity calendars devoted entirely to the acceleration of consumption: Valentines Day, Mother's Day, Easter, Halloween, Christmas. Buy, buy, buy.
This has nothing to do with seasons, but with products. Time has turned into a product, a brand.
By season I mean the actual rhythms of land and water; the availability and scarcity of life according to fluctuations in rain and temperature, prompting the movement and migration of winds, animals and plants.
If we understand that the land is moving, that it is punctuated by these rhythms we call seasons, and that rhythm is what keeps life healthy, then our own diet and our own organisation of food and eating would follow suit.
What can we actually learn from the seasons? And how can this learning help us better connect human and forest health?
1. Consume seasonal products- consuming local food reduces the carbon footprint of food transportation and supports local growers. In other words, if you are in the UK, don't eat strawberries or mangoes in mid January. Besides, seasonal products are more 'nutrient dense' when compared to stored, canned or frozen foods. Seasonal diets can lead to major health advantages, including weight loss and weight gain.
2. Make use of land seasonally- the most ecologically friendly forms of land use are those that do not involve farming at all. Pastoralists are the least ecologically impactful communities. Thus, nomadic and transhumant peoples understand the cycles of land and water, following these, and thus observing the rhythms of availability and scarcity in the same way other animals do. Agriculture and farming places enormous pressure on lands to yield. Excess agriculture, for instance in the form of commodity crops, agribusiness or industrial agriculture, is not conducive to health either of humans or lands.
3- Celebrate the seasons- celebrate the rhythms of land and water by understanding how to cook, forage, sing, dance, commemorate and punctuate these changes with family and friends. Celebrating seasons is also a way of guaranteeing that human society remains strong during thin periods. For instance, when UV light levels are low, when there is a lack of colour exposure or vitamin intake wanes, and when seasonal variations affect mood, healthy socialisation can help achieve a balanced mental life, especially with regards to seasonal affective disorders.
4- Avoid supermarkets- the difference between a supermarket and a market is that supermarkets have no respect whatsoever for seasons, other than commodified seasons such as Christmas. Markets can be places where local produce and seasonal growth is shared and celebrated. Traditional seasonal markets, for instance Weinachtsmarkt in many parts of Germany, are ecologically significant. These are not just picturesque markets. Seasonal markets are also important as they encourage consumption of food that might otherwise go to waste.
5- Seasonal lifeworlds, not just seasonal lifestyles Ayurveda, Islamic Unani-Tibb, and Traditional Chinese Medicine associate health with the observation of seasonal diets, practices and rituals. Seasonal cultural practices offer a unique connection with the land and often instil the need to protect trees.
These millennial practices underpin many spiritual traditions based on the rhythms of life and death, an acceptance of which is vital to holistic well-being and personal happiness.
Likewise, many prophetic indigenous worldviews, for instance the Pachakutik of Andean peoples, speak of the current ecological emergency not in terms of climate change or global warming but in terms of a planetary disease, and the turning of a cosmic season.
The season of human beings is coming to an end. When the proud man is at the peak of their pride, that is when they are closest to the fall. There is no place for hubris in the seasons of life.