Sunday, February 27, 2011

Symbiosis - A Thousand People Made My Lunch


Pronunciation: \ sɪm biˈoʊ sɪs \
Function: noun
Etymology: Greek
Date: 1615–25
1. the living together of two dissimilar organisms.
2. a relationship between two people in which each person is dependent upon and receives reinforcement, whether beneficial or detrimental, from the other.
3. any interdependent or mutually beneficial relationship between two persons, groups, etc.

When an idea presents itself to you through multiple venues and in various forms, it is time to stop and pay attention. I am struck by how often the themes of mindfulness and gratitude have popped into conversations, research, the news, prayer, and writing. I have addressed both here in the past.

Over the next few weeks I shall explore these ideas more fully and examine how they fit into day to day life. Maybe it’s Zen or weight loss. Perhaps it is being “green” or political in nature. It may be middle age rumination, but it is without a doubt spiritual.

In my reading about mindfulness, food is mentioned a great deal. In her latest book “Women, Food and God”, Geneen Roth stresses being mindful when eating any meal – no distractions (reading, music, TV or upsetting conversation).

In a recent article on Huffington Post, a Zen class in Clatskanie, Oregon was highlighted. The instructors teach people how to be mindful of all aspects of their meal. The suggestion, one I have heard in many places, was to not only savor what you are eating but to mindfully consider how many people were involved in the food you put in your mouth.

That brought me to today’s lunch: Romaine lettuce, green onions, raw zucchini, tomato, mushrooms, baked chicken (prepared by Albertsons) and goat cheese. (Leaving the prepared salad dressing aside for the moment).

Each ingredient had a farmer. Given than I purchased most of these items at a grocery store, not a farmers market, I am guessing the farmer had help. (Not one guy growing mushrooms under his cellar stairs). Once she grew (or raised) the food, it had to be picked or milked or slaughtered. Then the lettuce or chicken or cheese had to be packaged and shipped. Once at a store someone placed on the shelf.

You can take it a step farther. The farmer needs seeds, or feed and certainly gas for the equipment. The shipper requires laborers, drivers, dispatchers, and payroll people. The grocery store has cashiers, stockers and managers. To keep all these people and places running there has to be power. Now look to the power companies, the oil rigs, natural gas drillers, coal miners or perhaps as far as Kuwait or Libya

Thousands of people worked so I could have a salad this afternoon.

This fact is made more startling by the fact that in many places in this world, individuals must grow or raise the food they eat. They themselves slaughter, harvest, grind and cook. They scavenge for wood to cook and walk for water,

I am humbled by my lunch.

Challenge for You
Try mindfulness and gratitude with one meal. When you sit down to eat (yep sit down at a table, the car does not count) turn off the TV, radio or music. Don’t bring a book or the newspaper, the computer, phone or even the back of the cereal box to the table.

Put down your fork after each bite. Don’t put any more food in your mouth until what you have is slowly chewed and swallowed.

Start counting. How many people worked to make your meal? Start at the beginning (raising or growing what you are eating) and work your way to the store. Let me know what you discover.

What Worked for Me Today
Mindful Lunch

Huffington Post
"In Buddhism You Are What and How You Eat"

Geneen Roth