Whether we are aware of it or not food pretty much dominates our lives. Regardless of how we eat; if it is for pleasure, for survival, for health or for optimising our performance, it is generally the primary relationship in our lives. Even if, say, you were to fast then it is still about the relationship to food, in this case by not eating.
It is our survival block. As physical beings not fixed to the ground and without photosynthetic capabilities our sustenance to fuel every aspect of living in this dimension comes from our food. It is powerful and predominant and has me looking at what is my own relationship to the food I eat?
I just finished reading a science-fiction novel. I thoroughly enjoy reading about future visions of our species, although in most cases I feel authors, while adequately creating projections into our technological advancements, rarely give enough thought to the mental, emotional and spiritual development of our species. More often than not these novels are full of humans thinking the way they do now with the same kind of drama and problems and pettiness that exist in our current age. With my own investigations into adult human development I don’t think that will be the case, these facets of our being will also evolve. Anyway that is a tangent to be explored another time and if I ever get around to writing my own science-fiction.
In this particular novel, and in many I have read, the food eaten by humans in the future is entirely synthesised. There is no agriculture and humans do not grow any of the food they eat, rather it is perfectly tailored to meet the complete nutritional requirements and then processed into various forms and flavours to simulate the food that has been a part of our heritage.
There is one scene even when the protagonist unknowingly consumes meat given by a woman he is dating that belongs to a ‘regressor’ type of group who are trying to revert to older ways of living on the land. The main character vomits profusely and then lashes out at the woman claiming she is insane by eating an animal. This is not in response to a vegetarian mentality, rather it is in response to the idea of eating naturally grown foods as utterly disgusting (perhaps like how more ‘primitive’ cultures as well as our ancestors would eat food that now appears utterly disgusting to us. Having lived in Asia for a while I’ve eaten all kinds of things that many people I imagine would feel uncomfortable with).
Reading this story had me thinking, as I said above, about our relationship to food. In some ways this kind of line makes sense. It’s easy, it takes away the sheer quantity of time and effort that we need to invest in our daily consumption of food and makes it as easy as removing it from a package and sticking it in something akin to a microwave. In some ways we are already headed in this direction as processed food often is so far removed from actual food, and so full of chemicals and additives that it is virtually synthetic as it is! What if we could have that same luxury, that same range of tastes and know that every meal we consumed provided us with exactly the nutrition we needed to maintain an optimal state of health?
It would certainly free up a lot of time and a lot of our advancements through the industrial ages have been in removing that time investment in regards to our food. Once our whole lives revolved around it. There was a time most of the entire day was wrapped up in the hunting and gathering of food which, as we congregated together in larger numbers, the growing, harvesting and preserving of foods. Now all we have to do is visit a supermarket once or twice a week, and cook. Or if we are eating for survival and taste only then just take it out of it’s packet and stick in oven or microwave.
So as a species we have all this extra time, and what have we done with it? While there have been massive advances in longevity, technology, etc there has also been a massive cost. There is a disconnect from this planet that sustains us. We think of things as man-made vs nature-made when the reality is that everything we use and consume has come from this planet. Everything.
There is a natural harmony that I find missing and with is a global pathology. Rampant illness exists, broad-scale destruction of the environment, depression, and an insane life based on the accumulation of stuff. We have more time than ever before yet we are also busier.
How much of this is within our relationship to food I wonder?
For me while I can see the sense in moving towards ease, eliminating all that time that revolves around food so that we can put it into… into… umm… the advancement of the human endeavour? Or whatever.
I feel a calling towards a more harmonious and integrated relationship to the basic needs of my life. Currently I don’t know where my food comes from, I don’t know who grew it, which soil it was in, or anything much about it at all.
I wish that to change.
The design science of Permaculture offers options, I think, to reintegrate… or from an integral perspective “transcend and include” our relationship to the basic necessities of life. With an appropriately designed house, suburb, city we can be in relationship with our food, water and waste without having to dedicate so much time to it. Perhaps we can also take a look at what we dedicate our time towards. Hours upon hours of work to get money that buys… food, shelter and stuff. How much of it do we truly need? How much of the ‘good’ life says that we have made it, that we have finally survived?
The truth is we can’t survive, not indefinitely. Death waits for us all. Completely and totally and absolutely.
And yet we are still functioning out of fear-based survival, from a perspective that says the more that I have the more that I am surviving. It is really quite insane.
What if we slowed down and took a deeper look at the relationships in our lives? That with family, friends, lovers, purpose and meaning and our survival needs like food.
To transcend and include means to go beyond where we were and yet to also include that which brought us here.