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Food as a Continuum of Life
This is one of a few posts where I need to explain how the system of Life works because it is very different from how the industrial food system works. As different from what you are accustomed to as this may sound, it is what is happening in Life. Because most people are not aware of this and haven’t been throughout much of history, various viewpoints and practices have come about that are not aligned.
A continuum is a coherent, continuous whole where there is a progression of parts that are each necessary for the whole to exist.
Each food that we eat is part of the continuum of food on the Earth.
You may have seen or been taught the food chain shown as on the left below, with plants on the bottom, then animals, then man at the top. But this is incorrect. It’s more like the diagram on the right, where all the plants and animals and man are in a circle going around and around.
Our modern industrial culture sees humans as separate from the ecosystem. We are born in an industrial hospital, go through life in the industrial world, then when our bodies die they are treated with preservatives, put in a box, and buried in a way to be protected from decay.
If we were out in the ecosystem, our bodies would be born, they would be nourished with our mother’s milk, we would eat the foods of our ecosystems, and when our bodies die, they would lie on the ground and be subject to the processes that return all bodies to the ecosystem—we would be food for other life forms.
In this scenario, all plants and animals are food for each other. This is the way nature is designed.
Many peoples that have lived closer to the land have known this, and so respect the plants and animals that they eat by eating the whole of the body, and using inedible parts for other purposes.
Yes we are killing the animals and also the plants when we eat them, but if we were living according to nature, we would also be giving our bodies back to the ecosystem as food.
There is no life without death. It all goes around. The part that makes plants and animals alive is infinite and eternal. Life forms are temporary. To take a life form—plant or animal—to sustain the life of another life form is what was intended by Life. What is wrong is to take a life form recklessly without purpose or use. That would be outside of the cycle of Life.
After eating fish caught with respect from my local waters, in the middle of the night I awoke with a picture in my mind of me standing on the edge of a body of water where Larry had just caught a fish. He kills it quickly to prevent the suffering of slow death by asphyxiation. I take the fresh fish body in my hand, bring it to my lips, and kiss it, full of appreciation for it giving me its body so my body can live. Seeing that scene I wanted to thank all the plants and animals before I eat their bodies.
Saying grace for me now is to that both the Spirit of Life that provides all the life forms, and the individual plants and animals themselves.
I make a point to be aware of the plants and animals I am eating and am learning more about them day by day.
I think this is what saying grace is about—acknowledgment and thanks to the living plants and animals who gave their bodies so our bodies can live. And thanking the farmers and ranchers and fishermen, and those who prepared the food…really being aware of everything and everyone that contributed to the food on your plate, which is a contribution to your life and health.
knew about the native peoples respect for killing the animals but I hadn’t come to it in my own cognition. Now I have this viewpoint because it arose within my own awareness.