Food is an essential part of everyday life, a focus at festivals, and a significant ethical consideration. How we handle food day to day can have huge effects on family life, and spiritual expression.
What do we buy? Producing food has huge environmental impact. Do you source locally when you can? Free range? Does meat feature in your diet? Do you think about food miles? (the drive to and from the supermarket causes the most damage in this regard). How healthy is your diet? Do you make food from scratch, or buy pre-pre-prepared? All of these issues represent ethical dilemmas around food and family.
I’m not suggesting there are any right answers, but, here are a few things to mull. Good diet significantly contributes to good health. Whatever else you do or don’t eat, getting plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables on your plate is good for you. Eating together is a powerful, bonding activity. It creates opportunities to talk, and listen, and reinforces bonds. There is a quote (no idea where from) that goes ‘families who eat together and pray together, stay together’.
There’s a trend in western culture towards fragmented eating, individuals foraging from fridge or freezer to re-heat in microwaves, eating alone and around other activities. Good food, and the sharing of it, is life enhancing. If it’s not viable to do all the time, there’s still much to be said for trying to do it as often as you can. Making good food is an expression of care for your tribe, and an act of creativity. Those who put in the time and effort, should be honoured for their generosity. If someone makes a cake for your ritual, that’s something to celebrate and praise. If someone other than you does the cooking, make sure their work is fully acknowledged. Meal making is important, don’t take it for granted! There is fun to be had in making good food, and it is something that can be shared. If you want to teach children about nutrition and food ethics, nothing beats getting them into the kitchen.
Western culture pushes us towards living faster, doing less for ourselves, and perceiving less value in traditional skills. There is nobility in self sufficiency. There is magic in the rising of a loaf, the crafting of a banquet. ‘Ease’ and ‘convenience’ are seldom satisfying, and pre-made food, whacked into the microwave may keep your body moving, but it will not feed your soul. If you let food be an active expression of your paganism, it will have significant positive effects on you, and those around you.