As we sit down at our dinner table, how many of us typically think about where the food we eat is coming from, who is growing it, with what mind and intention? Does any of this make any difference to the food, and more importantly – to our health ?
A couple of years ago, I witnessed a theatre workshop at a school in Delhi. It started with some typical breaking the ice exercises. The kids were asked what they ate for breakfast. Varied answers – bread – butter, milk, parantha – jam, cereal, biscuits, cornflakes. The conductor’s next question was
‘So what is a parantha made of?’
‘Its made of atta.’
‘And what is atta made of ?’
‘umm.. errr.. atta comes from the supermarket..’
‘What is cornflakes made of ?’
‘they are made of atta.’
Cornflakes is made of atta ! Bizarre is how it gets. The school here didn’t seem too far from the elementary school in West Virginia of Jamie Oliver’s Food revolution.
My thoughts go back to my boarding school days in Dehradun. Anyone would vouch that meal times were undisputedly the most awaited, and food, a single point agenda on everyone’s mind. This was a school that didn’t allow us to stock any kind of food or cash, and anything packaged (chocolates, biscuits, chips etc.) we could buy from the tuck shop that opened twice a week for an hour only.
The entire school would wait at their dining seats in a single dining hall, filled with endless rows of dining tables, in pin-drop silence. The schoolie (head girl) would say the grace ‘Thank you God for everything” and almost instantly the silence would convert into a deafening sound of cutlery clanking mixed with the chatter of the 450 schools girls. And it didn’t matter whether it was the kadi chawal Tuesday or the shahi paneer/butter chicken Thursday, the eagerness for the food was the same each meal.
The grace I guess was the last moment of patience between us and the food, a moment created for us hungry souls to feel the good fortune in what awaited us.
This one moment of silence, of patience, of prayer, probably even went a long in making the food more delectable ever.
As the rain came to a halt at the farm, off we were with buckets of aloe veras to plant, on a hillside near the water pump, as aloe needs a considerable amount of water to grow healthy.
But what it needs even more, says Kalyani, as she teaches us to plant them into the soil, is prayer. Prayer that the plant grows into the healthiest plant, and it gives the maximum health and benefit to the person who uses it. And this is how each and every sapling and seed is planted on this farm.
What a thought.. I was blown with this idea !
Now imagine, if what we eat every day, has an embedded prayer in it, for our health… I can only imagine what power one such meal could have – if only we give it its due, take a moment to reflect on where our food is coming from, the soil it grew on, the person who sowed it, nurtured it over a few months, and toiled out in the open, in the heat, in the rain, to reach this to our dinner table.