Christian comedian Tim Hawkins delivers a hilarious quip about eating:
“Lord bless the bag of Cheetos and this big gulp Dr Pepper. Lord change the molecular structure of this food…change the Cheeto into a carrot stick on the way down Lord.”
The first time I heard Tim deliver this monologue in the form of a table blessing, I nearly fell from my chair with laughter. I glanced around, and everyone in the auditorium convulsed with laughter as well. That night, it wasn’t until the drive home that I realized the shreds of painful truth about our relationship with food shrouded in humor. In our culture of mass-produced food, it takes a renegade mentality to practice responsible and mindful eating.
Decades of poor food choices coupled with blind trust in the food industry set the stage for health problems. A dizzying amount of health conditions originate from how you fill your plate. Wendell Berry suggests that:
“People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.”
Responsible and mindful eating requires you to take control of your food choices. Healthy eating should become a lifestyle that you cultivate and maintain.
Make Responsible and Mindful Eating a Lifestyle
Educate Yourself About Food
A part of responsible eating is to educate yourself about the food you feed yourself and your family. Eating is a fundamental need and a gift. We lose sight of the “gift” part and mainly focus on the “need” portion. Our drive-thru, disposable mentality disengages us from what we eat. We merely rip open the bag and munch. Would you chow down that bag of Reese’s mini’s if someone told you that:
- The food industry employs neuroscientists “who perform MRI’s on consumers to gauge the precise level of fat (bad fat), sugar, and salt that will create the most powerful cravings, the so-called “bliss point.” (increases food addiction)
- Some food manufacturers create products to increase the number of times you eat per day. Most of this high-calorie, nutritionally void foods propel you into an all-day snacking frenzy. Food companies design their packaging so that the consumer no longer needs to “unwrap” anything. You reach in and throw back handfuls—all day long. (increases convenience so that you eat more)
- A particular Krafty food company advertises their cute prepackaged lunchbox meals during cartoon time on Saturday mornings. The same company now targets the teen demographic with its Uploaded line of the processed food.
- The kingpin of the soda world markets its highly addictive beverage to low-income areas in the United States and developing countries. Former president/Chief Operating Officer for Coca-Cola in North and South America admits “These people need a lot of things, but they don’t need a Coke.”
Eat Responsibly and Mindfully
Food companies do not voluntarily disclose that its product contains ingredients linked to heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, infertility, and a host of other medical conditions. Before stocking your pantry or filling your refrigerator with foods that contain suspicious ingredients, consider applying the same measure of safety with your diet that you do in other areas of your life.
We theft-proof our homes with door and window alarms, deadbolts, and motion detectors. We neglect, however, to protect our bodies as vigilantly as we do our homes. Every time we fill our pantries and refrigerators with foods that compromise and sabotage our health, we passively invite an intruder into our homes.
Buying Cheap Food Guarantees Expensive Health Care Later
Quite often, I come across posts on social media that feature the motherload of “grocery store scores” which are usually a cartful of processed foods. Yes, food companies play a significant role in producing cheap food. So cheaply, that obesity is America’s most pressing health condition.
Not only will cooking your food guarantee that nothing sneaky slips into your food, reviving your cooking skills will save you money.
Understand Where Your Food Comes From
Buy your food as close to home as possible. The locality of food makes sense in many ways. One way is the trusting relationship that develops between customer and farmer. The ideal scenario is to buy from local farmers. Customers of Polyface Farm drive as far as four hours to purchase fresh chicken, steak, and pork. Polyface owner, Joel Salatin shares a heart-warming story about how localism differs from the supermarket:
A marketing guru drove out to the farm to see what made us successful. He parked and exited his car just in time to see me give one of our customers a huge hug. He stayed respectfully out of the way as I handled her fresh chickens. I asked about her ailing spouse, her children, and we small talked as I weighed, invoiced, and put her chickens into her cooler with ice. I had processed those chickens that very morning in the same shed where we transacted our business. After I loaded the chickens into her car, she left. The marketing guru eased over to me and said: “Now I know your secret. You don’t get that at the supermarket.” By “that” he meant everything from the hug to the transparency to the relationship to the integrity. That’s been 30 years ago, but I still remember it like yesterday.
When you practice localism, your dollars stay in your community. The locavore movement helps to sustain local farms and businesses.
If time prohibits you from trying your hand at gardening, then join a winter CSA. Buy local produce in bulk then teach yourself how to preserve food. It’s not that difficult. Grow your herbs and microgreens indoors.
Teach Yourself About Food Production
Since eating is something you do multiple times throughout the day, it’s prudent that you inform yourself about what’s on your plate. How far did that apple travel to make it into your cart? Is your lettuce imported from a country with high regulations and standards for food? If you are just starting your lifestyle of healthy living, the following titles offer foundational material to educate yourself on food production and food marketing.
With commitment, begin responsible and mindful eating by taking control of what goes into your cart and on your plate. Shrewd consumers question and investigate the food they purchase. We don’t think twice about doing our homework to buy a car so why wouldn’t we exercise the same consumer vigilance with our food. Cheap food is, well, cheap because it is highly processed imposter foods. Become a student of food, learn to prepare food and discover where your food originated. While temperant weather reduces the availability of certain varieties of produce, you should practice eating the cooler weather crops like dark leafy greens and root vegetables.
Resources to Help You Practice Responsible and Mindful Eating
Not all of you have the option of buying locally so look for companies like ButcherBox. From food to bedding, ButcherBox makes sure to accommodate the natural tendencies of animals– cattle like to roam, hogs like to move dirt with their snouts, and chickens like to peck.
Thrive Market delivers healthy food and household items to your doorstep when buying locally is not an option.
What do you need to do to practice responsible and mindful eating? Share your thoughts in the comments section.