“Food is more than simply fuel. It imparts a living wisdom that is beyond the science and mechanics of calories, grams, and nutrient values. Ancient peoples, through their relationships with the plants and animals providing their food, understood that their food conveyed the unique energetic qualities of its source, such as swiftness from wild deer and groundedness from root vegetables.” ~ Steve Gagné
In our modern world, the subtleties of food energetics are often overlooked by the more measurable nutritional values that traditional science has identified. However, there are new advancements that recognise that there are many other factors at play in how food affects not only our bodies, but our moods, personalities and even cultural beliefs too.
So, measuring calorie and sodium content is not the be all end all of food; healthy food is vibrant food! Consider the following factors and remember to pay attention to how food affects your body, rather than just counting calories.
1. The characteristics of the plant or animal in its living state
As explained by Steve Gagné in his book, Food Energetics: The Spiritual, Emotional, and Nutritional Power of What We Eat (2008), the link between the food we consume and the qualities it will bring us is more evident than you know. Consider, for example, leafy greens: they are the lungs of the Earth and in turn assist our usage of oxygen and also create an outgoing energy. Chicken, when consumed moderately can provide an upbeat and active energy, whereas overconsumption can lead to nervousness and irritability, common attributes of the living bird.
The conditions in which a food naturally grows also have a tangible effect. Particularly noted are how they affect the body temperature. Plants which take longer to grow (e.g. root vegetables) tend to be warmer than fast-growing foods (e.g. lettuce). Foods with a high water content tend to be more cooling (e.g. melon, cucumber), etc.
This is the basis of time-tested medical practices such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
It’s all about finding the right balance with your body and the surrounding environment. If you live in a hot country, cooling foods can keep you from overheating. People who are flittery and indecisive can benefit from grounding foods. They may also benefit from high quality beef (a very firm and commanding animal). Stuck or lazy – go for something light, or consider something sprouted.
2. The environment in which the food has matured (if it made it to maturity)
Conventional agricultural methods deplete a lot of the trace nutrients of quality food.
Single species crops continuously compete for and drain soil of vital nutrition. Chemical fertilisers are then necessary, but often lack the diversity of the natural minerals plants thrive on. Additionally, herbicides and pesticides and other factors which meddle with the natural balance all affect the energy of plant foods.
Apply this to typical livestock practices – thousands of animals forced to live within unhealthy confines, lacking most of their basic needs except for the excess of antibiotic-laden feed…more on that to come.
Organic and local are the obvious choices here. Grass fed and free-range livestock is of a much higher quality.
3. The way your food was initially processed
This is highly applicable in the case of the slaughter of livestock. Many of us choose to live in ignorance of this part of the process. It is graphic and heart wrenching. After brief and bitter imprisoned lives, animals are lined up and killed.
Responsible slaughterhouses will try to implement humane methods, but as many reports show, these measures are often overlooked in favour of efficiency, and animal deaths are violent and fearful.
The very essence of meat coming from a living being is too often lost. Animals are treated like products. They are not products, they are animals, and this process does affect the quality of their flesh.
And yes, plants have feelings too, as Peter Tompkins, and Christopher Bird, discovered and published in their book The Secret Life Of Plants (1989). We will talk more about that some other time.
Again, consider sourcing organically. Even when not possible, the simple act of gratitude to the being that gave up their life for yours can have a huge impact.
4. The length and process of transporting from source to your supermarket shelf
The availability of any food you want, during any season, does have a catch. Many foods are imported; this means they make thousand-kilometer-long journeys halfway around the world to reach us. By the time a food lands on supermarket shelves it is often days old.
With every day that passes in the life of produce from harvest to consumption, a little more nutritional value is lost, a little more of the remaining life withers away and a little more energy is depleted.
Local tops the choices here. Not only will it be fresher, but more likely to have the energetic qualities to bring you into balance with your environment.
5. The way the food was prepared
What makes your grandma’s cooking so special? The time and dedication she puts into preparing nourishment for her flock. The love. After granny’s meal you feel happy – stuffed – but happy.
Compare that to the average fast food employee giving you the bad eye while haphazardly slapping together your two-minute meal from a stack of mass produced ingredients; it’s just not the same, and you can feel it.
Prepare food with attention and appreciation. The energy put in here will equate the energy put out, and the extra special “Mmm”. Make sure if you buy readily prepared food, it’s from trusted sources.
6. The way the food was consumed
We take this one for granted a lot in our modern society. We eat in the car, in front the TV, we shovel junk down with emotional need; we hardly ever stop and appreciate the entire process that went into getting the food to our plates at all.
Before you dig in, stop, observe. Be grateful for every item on your plate and all the factors that went into getting it there. Eat slowly, taste each bite with full attention. Be present.
Even when we cannot control every aspect of the meal in front of us, the simple act of mindfulness and gratitude has been shown to have measurable effects on the quality of the meal. Giving it more life, and in turn giving you more life.