If we are what we eat, as the old saying goes, we’d better get to know more about what kind of elements we put in our bodies; where do the ingredients come from? Is our diet ethically fair? Questions are aplenty and answers frequently blurry, especially when it comes to food and its beginnings. Nutritionist (and lifestyle coach, yoga teacher, trained chef) Faith Shorney, who previously gave us some tips on how to get maximum benefit out of our meals, explains why it is essential to learn more about this crucial yet controversial subject.
I seem to be constantly overwhelmed by an endless stream of questions relating to diets and what people should and shouldn't be eating, where to buy their food, whether or not it's organic, grass fed, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free or low-fat. I’d like to ask them this; do you know where your food comes from?
I'm not asking what your piece of beef ate when it was still a cow, I'm asking if you know how it lived and died and whether or not you care. I'm not telling you to give up meat and become a vegan, I'm simply asking whether you are aware of the life it had and the journey your food has taken before it reached your plate.
Who might have grown your vegetables, and what country did it originally come from? How did it travel and what journey has it endured to reach your plate? How much of this information do you take in, and how connected are you to your food?
Before we understand our relationship to our food we need to become ecologically literate, to understand the principles of ecology and the language of nature. Ecosystems are sustainable communities of plants, animals and microorganisms. Sustainability is the giving back after taking so that a system can thrive.
Do we live in a sustainable ecosystem? Do we have a relationship with our food, or do we view it as simply macro and micro nutrients which are required to survive. Do we understand our relationship to our planet and the ecosystem we live in? We live in a time where the well-being of the earth and all of humanity are at risk. Every choice we make, from the food we eat, to the lifestyle we live, and the resources that we take, all affect the ecosystem.
We are connected to the world around us emotionally, mentally and physically and we cannot make choices about nourishing our bodies without respecting and valuing our own ecosystem. Buying, preparing and eating food in such a way that is harmonious with our value system supports good mental health and improves digestion.
There is a direct correlation between our brains serotonin response and the amount of time we spend outside, in nature; the more time we spend outdoors, the happier we are. Surely then, if we are more connected to nature in what we eat, it will provide us with greater happiness - and happiness plays a big part in what and how we eat. Nutritional health issues are often linked to emotional and mental health problems, would it not be in our greatest interest to create balance between them?
So today when you're buying food, cooking or eating it, take a little time to think about it. Where did it come from? Who grew it, raised it, killed it or cut it. Savour the flavours, cook slowly, eat slowly and spare a thought for each mouthful. We all too often rush through a meal without even thinking about how our meal landed on our plate, we simply want faster ways to cook and eat to save time in our busy lives. Slow down, you never know, you just might enjoy it.
(Ph Chmee2, source Wikimedia)