So okay, who cares? Why would anyone consider food to be sacred? It's just fuel for our bodies, right? I'm not denying that food gives our bodies fuel, but I feel that if we are going to live a spiritual life (of whatever path you choose), then our food and water, what keeps us alive, must be sacred also.
Many religions have offered gifts of food and drink to the Gods. For example, Hinduism has the practice of Prasada, which means making and offering food to the Gods as a means of meditation, thinking about what will please Them. The food is not tasted while being prepared, and only after the first plate has been offered to the Gods, may it be eaten. In many Neo-Pagan rites, the cakes and ale are blessed first in the circle, and then passed around with the words "May you never hunger (thirst)." I grew up in a Christian home, where we said "grace"every night before dinner, thanking God for the gifts of food that we were going to eat.
So how do we keep this mindset of sacred food? In our home, we ask our daughter to simply say thank you to all that were involved in the meal. It goes something like this: "Thank you to the plants and animals who gave their lives, so we may eat. Thank you to the farmers, who raised the food for us. And thank you to Mommy (usually) who cooked it!" While this is almost secular in feel for a blessing, the point is that sacrifice and hard work go into every meal, which should not be taken for granted. But we also spend a lot of time in local farms, where we buy most of our meat, vegetables, and fruit, and get to know our farmers. It makes it a lot easier to keep in mind how much hard work farmers do when you talk to them!
And how do I tie this back to Paleo? I feel that the way that I eat is completely compatible with Paganism, though others may disagree. Neo-Pagans generally believe the words of Chief Seattle: "Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth. We did not weave the web of life; we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves."Many Pagans therefore become vegetarian or vegan, following the "Harm None," tenet. Hindus also will not offer meats to the Gods in Prasada, in accordance with Ahimsa (non-violence). So if we're all connected, why do I eat meat then? It's simple. We're ALL connected, including the vegetables and fruits, so if I give up meat, I'm still being cruel to plants. I don't put them on levels of existence. Animals are no higher than plants, and neither are higher than me. Not to mention, most sources of vegetarian protein cause my body harm (like grains and legumes), so if I want to follow "Harm none," or Ahimsa, I have to include myself in that proscription. But the bottom line is, we need to eat and as much as some people might want to take themselves out of the Nature equation, we are most definitely still in there. Nature can be cute and fuzzy; Nature is also cruel. We miss out on many lessons if we try to pretend that Nature's cruelty doesn't happen. And without cruelty to life, we can't eat. But it's up to the individual on how they want to approach these tenets,
The next post will talk about food in ritual, including an alternative to the typical breads people usually serve.