Have you ever stopped to think about what it takes to get the food on your plate?
Most people eat three times per day (or more), but rarely take the time to think about where the food comes from. Less than 100 years ago your grandparents used to go to their local market or butcher shop to purchase their ingredients. They would have conversations with their farmers and purchase only foods that were in season. Today, due to the corporatization of the food system, you can simply stop by a grocery store within a 10-mile radius and be faced with an overwhelming amount of options to choose from. It’s easy to take for granted how much time and love goes into growing your food, given how disconnected you are on a daily basis from where your food comes from.
If you trace your food back to the original source and express gratitude for each step of the way it would go something like this: “I am grateful for:
- The seeds that were cultivated over hundreds of years to produce our crops.
- The nutrient-rich soil that our food grew in.
- The clean water supply to provide hydration to the roots in the soil.
- The weather that provided perfect growing conditions.
- The farmers who strategically planned their crop selection.
- The workers on the farm who perform physical labor to harvest the crops.
- The lives of the animals that were sacrificed for our nourishment.
- The truck driver who drove the produce to the store.
- The grocery store that stocks our local products so that we can easily swing by on our way home from work to pick up ingredients.
- The grocery store clerk who smiles and helps you at check out.
- The person who prepared your food with love.”
As you can see, there is plenty to be grateful for. It is essential to connect with the food system as the ever-evolving food production channels continue to move toward more processed and packaged food—taking you further away from the source.
In his article The Food Movement, Rising, author and food journalist Michael Pollan brings to light how far removed you are from food sourcing:
“Americans spend a smaller percentage of their income on food than any people in history—slightly less than 10 percent—and a smaller amount of their time preparing it: a mere thirty-one minutes a day on average, including clean-up. The supermarkets brim with produce summoned from every corner of the globe, a steady stream of novel food products (17,000 new ones each year) crowds the middle aisles, and in the freezer case you can find ‘home meal replacements’ in every conceivable ethnic stripe, demanding nothing more of the eater than opening the package and waiting for the microwave to chirp. Considered in the long sweep of human history, in which getting food dominated not just daily life but economic and political life as well, having to worry about food as little as we do, or did, seems almost a kind of dream.”
The following are four ways to get more connected to your food.
1. Take a Moment before Every Meal to Express Gratitude for the Food on Your Plate
This is a simple way to reconnect with where your food comes from. This practice of pausing before your meal to express gratitude also allows for a simple transition from the hustle and bustle of your day to become fully present when you are eating. In doing so you are following the first step of mindful eating, which allows your nervous system to switch into parasympathetic mode, also known as rest-and-digest mode.
2. Shop at Your Local Farmers’ Market
This allows you to develop a connection with your farmers and to ask questions about how the crops were grown. Shopping at the farmers’ market also supports eating seasonally, because you will only find produce that is in season unlike conventional grocery stores. When fruits and vegetables are in season it means that they are more nutrient-dense. It also means that there will be less of a carbon footprint because the produce that is sold in grocery stores that is not in season has to come from up to thousands of miles away in areas that have different climates and growing conditions.
3. Visit a Local Farm to See How Your Food is Grown
You will see how much planning and hard work it takes to make sure that the produce is grown to perfection. What you’ll also find is that farmers have to come up with savvy strategies to keep insects and pests from ruining their crops. Unfortunately, farmers work with tight profit margins so their profitability from all of their hard work is undervalued in addition to being unseen. But without farmers, how would you get food on your plate?
4. Grow Your Own Vegetables or Herbs
If you have never grown your own vegetables this can be a great home project. You’ll start by learning about what container and soil to use and then you will figure out what you can grow during a particular time of year. From there you will be watering and providing the plants nutrients and, similar to farmers, you’ll learn to fend off birds, pests, and bugs eating your food. It is gratifying to eat food that you have grown in your own garden. If you don’t have a lot of space, consider renting a Tower Garden.
The next time you are in your grocery store, take a moment to look at all of the food that is available at your fingertips. While you are at work and going through your daily tasks, remember there is a whole remarkable food system that is operating to help get food on your plate without your even thinking about it.