Greenskill your life and professional practice

Connecting to Nature through the Food we eat

Little girl holding veg basket

It’s gardening season, for me personally one of the most joyful times of the year. Every year it’s a wonder to see the abundance all around me and to eat the food harvested straight from my garden. 

But even for those of us who aren’t gardeners, food, like air and water, is our connection to Nature every day, wherever we are in the world. Even the most processed foods originate in Nature, unfortunately oftentimes much of the nutrition has got lost in the refining and preserving process as well as long transport distances.

I like to compare our food, particularly plant based food,  to the following metaphor, which clearly illustrates, why fresh, organically grown, local, natural food is the best we can do for our own health and the health of our planet: When plants are growing, they are rooted to the Earth’s energy system, taking in and transforming nutrients trough roots, photosynthesis, “breathing” in carbon dioxide, breathing out oxygen… they are “plugged in” and charging at all times during their growth. When they are harvested, we “unplug” them and from this moment the full  “battery” loses charge, the longer it is stored, transported and processed. 

When mindfully connecting to Nature through food, we become more aware of the origins, the people who provided the food, the journey from source to finished product, the carbon footprint, the nutritional value, and most of all, our continuous connection to Nature.

Sometimes this awareness is all it takes to make simple changes to our eating and shopping habits. We might go to our local farmer’s market more regularly, source some foods from local food suppliers, pay attention to ethical food production, swap some meal ingredients for organic versions, start to grow some of our own food, choose items with less packaging… all these small changes can make a big difference in the long run, to our own health and wellbeing and also to our environment, our fellow human and non-human animals and the planet we all share. 

A valuable mindfulness exercise in connection to food is this gratitude practice, where we give thanks to all the people, elements and forces, who have contributed to our meal. Depending on what we are eating it can be a very humbling and eye opening experience. Here is a simple little example:

Connecting to Nature through food:

Having a cup of tea with a blueberry muffin in a coffee shop:

Thank you for the waitress who brought my food.

Thank you to the staff member who made my tea.

Thank you to the baker who baked my muffin.

Thank you to the suppliers who transported the ingredients to the baker and the coffee shop.

Thank you to the farmers who raised the cows for milk and butter, the chickens for the eggs, the farmers who grew the grain, the tea, the sugar cane, the blueberries…

Thank you to the soil, the seeds, the rain, the sunshine…

The list continues…

Another area of connecting to Nature through food is the sensory aspect. Our sense of taste, smell and touch are closely attached to our food intake. There is obviously the evolutionary background of detecting nourishing versus toxic foods, but more importantly in our modern times, tasting and “experiencing” food with our senses produces pleasant sensations and emotions such as satiation, contentment, pleasure, social connection etc. As sharing food is also associated with celebration, family traditions, health, friendship, love, travel and other social activities, food is an excellent resource for fostering positive Nature Connection experiences and awareness. 

Just try it out the next time you eat some food, bringing your attention right back to its source (s), connecting you to its roots, pardon the pun 😉

You might also like to read: Food – Glorious Food

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