5

votes

Food and spirituality

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 25, 2011 at 11:00 PM

Do you have a spiritual connection to your food?

Do you practice ritual around cooking, growing/raising, hunting/harvesting, or eating food?

Do you think the spiritual context of a food could have any benefit in context to our health?

Do you use food or parts of your food in alters for either aesthetic or spiritual reasons?

Many hunter gather/traditional societies have long standing spiritual beliefs/rituals based around food. Including how, when and who is to use it. While these stories and rituals have little scientific reasoning behind them. Are they useless beyond culture? could the belief of a food or "spirit" as either good or bad. Have a significant effect on it actually being good or bad for us through placebo or otherwise?

61e254571b4c792bca87340a090a3ea1

(480)

on October 24, 2011
at 11:52 PM

yeah I want everything deleted I don't know why I asked and answered these questions it bothers me I want it all gone.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on October 24, 2011
at 11:49 PM

I take it you want this deleted and can't do it yourself? Let me know.

Medium avatar

(19469)

on October 01, 2011
at 07:27 PM

I interpret "we are all spiritual in some way" as an acknowledgement of the mystery of life. This is not advocating ignorance or claiming that nothing can be "known", but each discovery leads to more questions, and so we evolve.

Medium avatar

(19469)

on October 01, 2011
at 07:25 PM

Agreed. Spiritual and religious beliefs always support adaptive behaviors suitable for ones environment.

Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c

on October 01, 2011
at 06:54 PM

this approach to eating meat is a big part of why I try to get kosher meat when I can. While kashrut is neolithic and not paleolithic, certain ethical principles behind it, especially in how an animal is treated, add depth to my personal expression of being Paleo.

6f2c00fcbf48c69f0ea212239b3e1178

on May 26, 2011
at 05:14 PM

We're all spiritual in some way? What do you mean?

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on May 26, 2011
at 03:38 PM

I think that's a great insight, fing hippie. (Love that handle, too.)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 26, 2011
at 04:59 AM

I agree with Buddhism, that it's important not to cook or eat with anger. The negative energy can enter the food and it can become poison. I also believe there are things about plants that nourish us that are beyond just the vitamins and other things that make it up. We just can't objectively measure it, just like we can't objectively measure other "strange" things like the psychedelic plants hunter/gatherers ate. Psychedelics play a huge role in the cultures that used them and their beliefs about "spirits" and "energies". Without tryin psychedelics it can be hard for westerners to understand.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on May 26, 2011
at 02:53 AM

I don't know if it relaxes me, or improves digestion; I'll have to pay attention and see if I think that's true. I have heard, though, that eating an arrow-shot animal is healthier/tastier because adrenalin coursing through the critter's muscles, from gunshot or slaughter, changes the meat. Don't know if that's a myth, but it's something I've heard said a few times.

61e254571b4c792bca87340a090a3ea1

(480)

on May 26, 2011
at 01:15 AM

responding to your comment in that question. I also think a lot of spirituality within HG societies was a way of conveying rules for preserving populations of plants and animals. Also when closely dependent on an ecosystem for your food. You see more clearly how it's all connected like what killing too many beavers does to your fishing or killing to many ground hogs does to the local precipitation. They couldn't explain the science directly but they knew the consequences. So spirits where a good way to convey these truths and ethics to the next generation.

61e254571b4c792bca87340a090a3ea1

(480)

on May 26, 2011
at 01:01 AM

I could also see that those foods are ritualistic in seasonality and process. I know people on here seem to hate the smell of broth simmering but I love it nothing says home/warmth/relaxation like coming home to the smell of broth cooking. It's also the last thing I am eating from an animal so it's spiritual in that sense too. As for fermentation it's like putting away the summer for the rest of the year. Fermentation is also like feeding/growing another living thing thats going to nourish you. It even feels alive in your mouth.

61e254571b4c792bca87340a090a3ea1

(480)

on May 26, 2011
at 12:47 AM

I first started to consider food in a spiritual context when I started hunting. It's kind of hard not to consider the animals spirit when you are taking it's life. So do you think considering the animals flesh, does anything for you nutritionally. Like maybe relax you or improve digestion? Also do you think happy animals are partially better for you because they have a healthier "spirit"?

60199d3a580a4e17969059609e48e678

(883)

on May 26, 2011
at 12:37 AM

that sounds very honorable of your husband. I agree that it does humble you, even though others see it as barbaric (I have a few friends who are against hunting and they say that) but I think it helps to open one's eyes to the beauty of the world.

61e254571b4c792bca87340a090a3ea1

(480)

on May 26, 2011
at 12:25 AM

I don't have a specific definition of spirituality in mind. Just wondering if people interact with food in spiritual or superstitious ways. I do in all the ways listed above. I am not saying that it's important too anyone else or that my actions have any real world consequences other than personal. I personally like to consider plants and animals that I am killing or eating. I also like to be reminded of there place in my life though ritual and alters. But this could also mean thanking a higher power for your food or maybe even the happiness of the cows you eat as respecting there spirit.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on May 25, 2011
at 11:37 PM

i like your view on spirituality. perhaps eating food as simply objects purchased at a supermarket is mundane, and eating food keeping in mind that these plants and animals used to live is less mundane.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on May 25, 2011
at 11:18 PM

tv on dvd could be one of those experiences, but more often than not, it's pretty mundane.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on May 25, 2011
at 11:18 PM

sometimes it's just invoking your own spirit. I consider spirituality a departure from mundane thinking, a contemplation or experience that brings on contemplation of the 'underlying nature' of things. dunno how the question asker defines it.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on May 25, 2011
at 11:05 PM

totally upvoted for the broth comment. There really is something very special about making stock.

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9 Answers

4
3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on May 25, 2011
at 11:33 PM

Very much so. Before I eat, I think about the animal whose flesh I'm about to benefit from, and I thank its spirit, or my imagining of its spirit, for its sacrifice, whether willing or not. My husband, who hunts, tells me he says "thank you" to the animal just as he's firing the bow. And the fact that my health has improved in direct proportion to the amount of meat I consume just makes me all the more grateful and humbled.

It's fascinating and overwhelming to me that life feeds on life the way it does. I don't know if thinking about that on a daily basis qualifies as spiritual, but it feels that way to me.

60199d3a580a4e17969059609e48e678

(883)

on May 26, 2011
at 12:37 AM

that sounds very honorable of your husband. I agree that it does humble you, even though others see it as barbaric (I have a few friends who are against hunting and they say that) but I think it helps to open one's eyes to the beauty of the world.

61e254571b4c792bca87340a090a3ea1

(480)

on May 26, 2011
at 12:47 AM

I first started to consider food in a spiritual context when I started hunting. It's kind of hard not to consider the animals spirit when you are taking it's life. So do you think considering the animals flesh, does anything for you nutritionally. Like maybe relax you or improve digestion? Also do you think happy animals are partially better for you because they have a healthier "spirit"?

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on May 26, 2011
at 02:53 AM

I don't know if it relaxes me, or improves digestion; I'll have to pay attention and see if I think that's true. I have heard, though, that eating an arrow-shot animal is healthier/tastier because adrenalin coursing through the critter's muscles, from gunshot or slaughter, changes the meat. Don't know if that's a myth, but it's something I've heard said a few times.

Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c

on October 01, 2011
at 06:54 PM

this approach to eating meat is a big part of why I try to get kosher meat when I can. While kashrut is neolithic and not paleolithic, certain ethical principles behind it, especially in how an animal is treated, add depth to my personal expression of being Paleo.

2
B4ec9ce369e43ea83f06ee645169cee0

on May 25, 2011
at 11:04 PM

The closest I come to food and spirituality is when I make and consume lacto-fermented vegetables, and when making homemade broth. For some reason those two items strike me to my very core. I'm sure that I'm channeling my ancestors, you know?

Medium avatar

(5136)

on May 25, 2011
at 11:05 PM

totally upvoted for the broth comment. There really is something very special about making stock.

61e254571b4c792bca87340a090a3ea1

(480)

on May 26, 2011
at 01:01 AM

I could also see that those foods are ritualistic in seasonality and process. I know people on here seem to hate the smell of broth simmering but I love it nothing says home/warmth/relaxation like coming home to the smell of broth cooking. It's also the last thing I am eating from an animal so it's spiritual in that sense too. As for fermentation it's like putting away the summer for the rest of the year. Fermentation is also like feeding/growing another living thing thats going to nourish you. It even feels alive in your mouth.

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 26, 2011
at 04:52 PM

I try to deep connect with the food. try to feel the pain the fish feeled or the animal. try to imagine how the animal lived. Take time to prepare the food. Read on food and health.

Dream about food.

We are all spiritual in some way. Weather we want or not!

6f2c00fcbf48c69f0ea212239b3e1178

on May 26, 2011
at 05:14 PM

We're all spiritual in some way? What do you mean?

Medium avatar

(19469)

on October 01, 2011
at 07:27 PM

I interpret "we are all spiritual in some way" as an acknowledgement of the mystery of life. This is not advocating ignorance or claiming that nothing can be "known", but each discovery leads to more questions, and so we evolve.

1
6f2c00fcbf48c69f0ea212239b3e1178

on May 26, 2011
at 04:23 PM

I have no spiritual anything, so no.

1
1471beca8e3adff4ae2f89d10e5f7acb

on May 26, 2011
at 04:01 PM

I identify as a sort of agnostic mystic (totally stole that term from Robert Anton Wilson). I have a rather spiritual (albeit minus actual "spirits") relationship with the whole universe, which includes food.

One big reason for me is being a U.S. Southerner--I identify strongly with this, my heritage, but recognize that pride in Dixieland has a lot of very strong negative associations (many rightly so). I won't fly a rebel flag, but I will cook collard greens and black-eyed peas(1) on New Year's Day, because that is my connection to my ancestors and my community. It is a sort of ritual.

I don't say grace, but which I am cooking and eating I do feel grace. I think a lot about where my food came from, who grew it (often a farmer I know), what it will do for me. I suppose I practice graciousness, if that makes sense.

As for spirituality and health, I think mindfulness of any sort is beneficial to health. Maybe it's placebo. Maybe it's something more. I exist in a universe where everything is imbued with layers of meaning and significance. Considered food feels like it nourishes me more, but who knows?

(1)Yes, black-eyed peas are a legume. But when my kin and their neighbors (people all across the South), who never owned slaves and who were quite poor, had their farms ravaged by Sherman's forces, all they had left to eat were greens and peas, food the Union thought was only fit for pigs. Because these foods saved the lives of our people, we eat them every year on New Year's Day for luck and for wealth. It is a ritual, one I will likely never abandon, because it is a very real meaningful connection to my (fraught, country) roots.

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 26, 2011
at 03:20 PM

I agree with Buddhism in that it's important not to cook or eat with anger. They believe the anger energy can enter the food, and it's negative energy so not good. Before cooking if you're angry or not in a relaxed state of mind try breathing exercises, have a cup of green tea to relax and become conscious and relax and let the anger be as is without reacting. I also believe it's important to be "conscious" when eating, we must become the food we eat lol. Although I do sometimes read so that's not being totally conscious of the eating act.

I also believe there are things about plants that nourish us that are beyond just the vitamins and other things that make it up. We just can't measure it with science and it can't be understood intellectually.

Many beliefs that cultures such as hunter/gatherer tribes in paleo era, aztec civilization, Ancient Siberia(even present shamanism there dates way back) are based on "truths" or "teachings" they received while under the influence of psychedelic plants and funguses. They literally believe the funguses like amanita muscaria are "living gods". When ingested, they go into a trance and come in contact with "divine" or mystical states of conciousness. Psychedelic plants played a huge role in the belief in "spirits", "energies", and how the mind can influence reality and even the universe(by vibrations cause the universe/reality is just a vibration). All plants were thought to have spirits by many cultures and tribes, even plants that don't cause "visions" or "mystical experiences". And you consume certain energies by eating certain plants.

Religion is for the most part a neolithic thing. In the paleo times there was no religion, no armies or way. Just people living in the now, having little materials and everything they did worked. They had plenty of free timed and used shamanic plants and such as amanita muscaria(legal to buy, pick and possess in USA and many countries) and psilocybin mushrooms(illegal in USA and most countries).

It makes far more sense if you think about it to ingest a plant or fungus(we eat these everyday don't we?) and experience what religion talks about, what you've heard about your whole life but never "understood". This is because you can't understand "god" or "higher conciousness" or whatever you call it using intellect or logic. It's beyond words because it's beyond form.

Many things paleo make sense, including their usage of entheogenic or "psychedelic" plants. Many religions are based on traditions and beliefs from the days when we used these plants but it condems them which is far more insane than taking them and "seeing" for yourself. Why read a book, think about it, condition your brain with dogma and fear when you can go straight to the source and do what people did for 98% of our time on earth to obtain higher consciousness and ultimately free your mind of things like cultural conditioning, insanity and mental baggage.

1
6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on May 25, 2011
at 11:54 PM

See also this question.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on May 26, 2011
at 03:38 PM

I think that's a great insight, fing hippie. (Love that handle, too.)

61e254571b4c792bca87340a090a3ea1

(480)

on May 26, 2011
at 01:15 AM

responding to your comment in that question. I also think a lot of spirituality within HG societies was a way of conveying rules for preserving populations of plants and animals. Also when closely dependent on an ecosystem for your food. You see more clearly how it's all connected like what killing too many beavers does to your fishing or killing to many ground hogs does to the local precipitation. They couldn't explain the science directly but they knew the consequences. So spirits where a good way to convey these truths and ethics to the next generation.

Medium avatar

(19469)

on October 01, 2011
at 07:25 PM

Agreed. Spiritual and religious beliefs always support adaptive behaviors suitable for ones environment.

1
21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on May 25, 2011
at 11:07 PM

How do you define "spiritual"? One can have a solid connection to food without invoking spirits, no?

Spirituality was probably a fun and communal time for hunter gatherers. But we have tv-on-dvd, amongst many other great leisure activities.

That being said, cooking and eating with others is an enriching experience. While I don't grow stuff or raise animals, I'd imagine that would also be nice.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on May 25, 2011
at 11:37 PM

i like your view on spirituality. perhaps eating food as simply objects purchased at a supermarket is mundane, and eating food keeping in mind that these plants and animals used to live is less mundane.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on May 25, 2011
at 11:18 PM

tv on dvd could be one of those experiences, but more often than not, it's pretty mundane.

61e254571b4c792bca87340a090a3ea1

(480)

on May 26, 2011
at 12:25 AM

I don't have a specific definition of spirituality in mind. Just wondering if people interact with food in spiritual or superstitious ways. I do in all the ways listed above. I am not saying that it's important too anyone else or that my actions have any real world consequences other than personal. I personally like to consider plants and animals that I am killing or eating. I also like to be reminded of there place in my life though ritual and alters. But this could also mean thanking a higher power for your food or maybe even the happiness of the cows you eat as respecting there spirit.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on May 25, 2011
at 11:18 PM

sometimes it's just invoking your own spirit. I consider spirituality a departure from mundane thinking, a contemplation or experience that brings on contemplation of the 'underlying nature' of things. dunno how the question asker defines it.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 26, 2011
at 04:59 AM

I agree with Buddhism, that it's important not to cook or eat with anger. The negative energy can enter the food and it can become poison. I also believe there are things about plants that nourish us that are beyond just the vitamins and other things that make it up. We just can't objectively measure it, just like we can't objectively measure other "strange" things like the psychedelic plants hunter/gatherers ate. Psychedelics play a huge role in the cultures that used them and their beliefs about "spirits" and "energies". Without tryin psychedelics it can be hard for westerners to understand.

0
Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c

on October 01, 2011
at 07:03 PM

So first, a bit of my own biases. I'm trained in semiotics (analyzing symbol systems) and left academia to apply my work to theatre. Ideas of ritual fascinate me, whether they are my own or not. There's a few common threads I've noticed:

-Ritual builds communities. The act, externally, may seem strange, but it does bring a group of people together. -Ritual is meaningful. It's a way of expressing culture and belief. It doesn't have to be rational, but it clearly adds depth to people's lives -Ritual is a kind of play. It's expression, it's freedom.

For me, any well-rounded lifestyle includes some elements of ritual, even nonreligious ones. They're a part of life, and as I said, add depth and richness. It follows then--at least in my view--that food is a part of this. Food evokes family traditions, cultural heritages, and even the significances of different ingredients.

Personally, the main reason I say a prayer before and after eating is to cultivate being thankful and mindful for my nourishment. I also never work while eating (I'm in grad school, so I always have reading to do!). Whether it's enjoying at least the first half of my cup of tea, or eating my meal, I try to appreciate that time as one not only for bodily nourishment, but for mental and spiritual rest as well.

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