Saying grace

Growing up, food came from the grocery store to home, where mom cooked it, and we ate it.  That was the life cycle of food.  Sometimes food came from a box, a bag, or a jar.  Food had commercials on TV.  Food was pizza day at school (triangle or circle pizza only… rectangle pizza was gross).  We DID eat vegetables.  But I’ll be very honest and say not many, and when I did eat vegetables there was usually a creamy sauce involved.  I spent my teen years eating a whole lot of Pop Tarts and chocolate milk.  Food was in packages.

People say grace to thank God for their food, but lately my own personal grace has become a product of mindful eating and understanding the true life cycle of food.

Food comes from hard work.  Food comes from people: farmers and gardeners, beekeepers and butchers.  Food is a tiny miracle, and we need it to live.  A seed planted in the earth will grow into a plant, whether it’s a vegetable, tree, fruit, grain, berry, grass, weed, etc. 

Fruit is amazing.  When you eat fruit, you are taking part in an ancient reproduction ritual.  Plant makes a fruit (anything with seeds inside, basically: cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, oranges, avocado, watermelon – all fruit).  Animal eats the fruit, sometimes eating the seeds as well.  Animal goes along its merry way and – ta da! – eliminates the seed in a pile of fertilizer for a new plant to grow, and make more fruit, and do the same thing.  Now, humans aren’t exactly running around pooping seeds out, but it doesn’t make the eating of fruit any less important. 

Speaking of reproduction… Bees are CRUCIAL.  Bees pollinate plants, assisting with their reproduction.  If you are eating a plant, a bee probably helped.  And then bees make honey, which has infinite uses for health purposes.  You can eat it to help alleviate allergy symptoms, you can put it on a cut for healing, you can wash your face with it.  Honey is incredible.

Vegetables are also tiny miracles.  I cut off a head of bok choy and placed the bottom end in a bowl of water.  The leaves are re-growing! I am RECYCLING bok choy.  You can do the same with green onions, garlic, basil, celery, and more. 

Food does not have to come from the store.  You can literally make your own food, from seed to plant to kitchen to table to stomach.  The Earth has provided us with all we need, yet we seek nourishment from prepackaged stuff in a box. 

Meat and eggs and dairy come from animals.  I don’t have a problem with ethical, compassionate, and humane consumption of animals and animal products.  Up until the point of death, animals should be allowed to live their life in a way that nature intended.  They should eat a natural diet, live a low-stress life, and be killed humanely.  I’ve seen the PETA videos of animal slaughter, and they’re haunting.  I have a problem with mass-produced meat.  Because meat isn’t a product.  Meat was alive.  Meat was an animal who may have had offspring, or a mate, or friends.  Many animals are more aware than we realize. Animals do not have bar codes.  We owe them respect and we owe them so much gratitude, because so many of us rely on them for nourishment.

Eggs aren’t meat, they were never alive, but eggs are still a huge ethical sticking point.  Who makes the eggs? Hens.  Hens who deserve respect and proper care and treatment.  Hens who deserve to see outside and walk in grass and peck and scratch and dig for bugs.  Hens who deserve their bodies to not be maimed.  I recommend finding a local chicken owner, because you can’t even trust Cage Free or Free Range to really mean anything. 

I used to be disappointed when food went bad in my fridge.  Oh, no, I spent money on that.  Oh, dear, the chicken went bad because I forgot to freeze it.  Now, when food goes bad, I am beyond disappointed.  I feel like I let that food down.  I let the farmer down.  I let the animal down.  Every single item in my kitchen was the cost of someone’s hard work and sacrifice – whether it was a farmer, a laying hen, or a living creature that died so that I could take nourishment from its body.

Every time I eat, I say grace.  Not to God for the miracle of my food, but to the people and animals that made it happen.

24 thoughts on “Saying grace

  1. Eimear says:

    I feel the exact same way about my food. I try my hardest to get wholesome, local food although sometimes it’s just not possible as a student living with my parents and siblings. I have no issue eating meat or other animal products, as long as the animal has had a good life and freedom. None of this factory farming crap, although I don’t think it’s as prevalent in Ireland where I’m from as it is elsewhere. And my eggs come from hens belonging to my aunt, and those hens are nearly better looked after than the humans in her house so no arguments there!

    Lovely post, well done.

      • Eimear says:

        I was just discussing this with my mam and she says there’s no such thing as factory farmed meat or eggs here, apparently it’s illegal. I’m very much for animal rights so I honestly don’t know how I didn’t know this. I’ll look into it some more and let you know. Seeing as much of our industry is agriculture, I can see how it would be illegal though. Do come visit, we might even run into each other!🙂

  2. livingsimplyfree says:

    Caitlin, this is fantastic! I have watched some of those documentaries too, Earthlings had me crying most of they way through it. Animals have feelings and are mostly social. We still laugh about a cow that used to come up to the fence when my young boys and I would walk by. One day my youngest who was 3 at the time lay down on his stomach in the grass next to the fence. The cow lowered her face to meet his. My son began making faces at the cow to see her reaction. He was having a blast. At one point he stuck his tongue out, the cow did the same. The two of then played this game for several minutes, every time my son stuck his tongue out so did the cow. When we went to leave the cow followed us on her side of the fence, my son walked closer to her and she licked his face then turned and went back to the herd.

    the ethical raising of food, the work and care that goes into it is why what I don’t grow I buy from the farmers market. When open. I get to talk to the people who grew my food and can support them to be able to continue.

  3. roxiepatton says:

    Caitlin, I love this post!!!! I feel very strongly that regardless of religious inclination we owe the universe and all that is withing it immense gratitude for the daily miracles and blessings. As a race, us humans can be terribly ungrateful, self included. It’s so important to recognize the small miracles and huge sacrifices that bring us our daily food.

  4. Maria says:

    Word! Or maybe Amen is better. I had an errand in my lovely neighbouring country Sweden today, and I also went grocery shopping at this huge supermarket there. And it was just absurd to see beef from Uruguay on the shelves. I guess you can’t really grow coffee or bananas in the Scandinavian mountains, and maybe a little import of food is okay (I don’t know how much or which foods though). But come on, importing beef from Uruguay to Sweden?! Not that my country (Norway) is any better at all. It’s just crazy where we’re at as a modern society now.

    I really want to eat more local, ethical and organic food (or something similar, even if it’s not labelled organic), but I know I have a long way to go. Sometimes it’s just really hard to find that kind of food, especially if you want all three. When you want to live your life somewhat differently than most people, it often takes a lot of time and effort, at least in the beginning. One step at the time I guess. Sometimes it feels so hopeless, but I think more and more people are thinking along these lines, and that’s encouraging!🙂 A few years ago I was really unaware myself. And I think people can be motivated by different things, some people care about the environment, some want to respect and keep alive traditional local cuisine, a lot of people can relate to wanting to be healthy, or at least that their children are healthy. But even when it comes to health, a paradigme shift is needed I think. Until people stop believing that processed foods are healthy as long as they’re low fat or fortified with vitamins or something like that, they (we) won’t see the value in naturally grown/ raised and local food. Hmm, maybe I should worry more about myself and less about other people.😉

    • Caitlin says:

      Thank you for your comments! Definitely baby step it🙂 it’s all about the journey. We learn so much and it can get overwhelming but the important thing is intent and doing the best you can.
      🙂

  5. thefearsefamily says:

    This is such a beautiful post and so perfectly written. This is how I’m starting to see food, too and it’s really an exciting evolution of the mind, I think. It’s horrifying to think that most people consider packaged junk to be food…it doesn’t even resemble real food!

      • Caitlin says:

        No worries, I did too for a long time! I used to eat Ramen noodles and bologna sandwiches, so I cannot judge. I just educate. 🙂

        Thank you for your comments, and I am so glad to hear you are thinking mindfully about your food. It’s a good mindset!

      • thefearsefamily says:

        A lot of it for me has come with feeding my own child. I don’t want her to eat crap, so I’m more conscious of what is crap and what isn’t. We also don’t want that stuff in the house for her to see as ‘food’. Having a kid can be really good for you mentally, I think.

      • Caitlin says:

        Oh for sure! I think I’m in pre-nesting mode. I have a 5 year plan for kids but I want to make sure I am the best possible role model. I never want them to even see a Pop Tart haha!

      • Caitlin says:

        My best friend’s 4 year old won’t eat junk food anymore. She was eating Cheetos (a small bag to give in slightly to temptation) and he asked for one. She gave it to him. He took one bite and then gave it back. And the other day he refused pizza at the zoo and just had a fruit cup. He helps HER stay on track!

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