By Kathryn Lafond
During the holidays, talk is often of feasting. Even as a former chef with decades of experience raising plants and animals, I choose not to get into conversations about dietary choices—vegan, carnivore and everything in between. I prefer to ask: What fed you today, and were you thankful?
Connecting to something larger than ourselves is the delicious benefit we receive when we step into a state of gratitude, a deep-felt sense of appreciation. We understand what is larger than the reach of our arms and the strength of our hands when we acknowledge the gift of life that feeds us: the plants and animals that share our world.
When we enter as participants in this web of life, we are changed by it. Research shows gratitude has the power to heal. Even on a short-term basis, feeling grateful tends to build qualities of compassion, generosity, and forgiveness that make us better people. So consider the healing benefits of living in a state of fundamental thankfulness. To live that way opens us to awe and beauty.
We can begin our journey to gratitude by gently shifting our perspective every time we sit for a meal or prepare food.
Eating is a reciprocity that we experience multiple times each day. Being mindful of it opens us to a greater understanding of our place in this complex world. Simply reflect on the beauty of the lives given to become ingredients that feed us—seeds from stalks of rice or wheat, fruits of blossoms, flesh from furred, feathered, and finned beings.
Author Erica Bauermeister refers to the mystery of life feeding life in her book, The School of Essential Ingredients: "Every time we prepare food, we interrupt a life cycle. We pull up a carrot or kill a crab—or maybe just stop the mold that's growing on a wedge of cheese. We make meals with those ingredients and in doing so we give life to something else. It's a basic equation, and if we pretend it doesn't exist, we're likely to miss the other important lesson, which is to give respect to both sides of the equation."
Creation myths abound of how plants and animals and people arrived and how they sustained each other. Indigenous people were instructed to reciprocate, such as by gifting cornmeal or a piece of one's hair for a plants' sustenance. Hunters would dance before a hunt to honor the life of the animal and call forth its spirit.
For most people today, dealing with busy days and consumer culture, intimacy with our food is often lost.
Becoming gratefully aware of our interdependence with all living things increases as we ponder the essence of what we are consuming.
Consider a carrot. Does it surprise you that it could become brightly colored while growing underground? Do you feel in alignment with nourishing minerals rising up its stalk similarly to your own flowing blood? How big might it have grown had it not been plucked from the ground? Who else would it have fed?
A breath of gratitude taken to heart is an instantaneous connector.
"Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you," Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude." Indeed, gratitude shifts us from takers to makers, from disconnected to participating as a miraculous piece of the whole.
Reposted with permission from our media associate YES! Magazine.
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By Brett Wilkins
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the meatpacking industry worked together to downplay and disregard risks to worker health during the Covid-19 pandemic, as shown in documents published Monday by Public Citizen and American Oversight.
<div id="13077" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="11b9fe5ff48ebc437353df6df9c2c892"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1305915938148147205" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Just a week before the Trump administration issued an executive order aimed at keeping meat packing plants open, th… https://t.co/DkbXgPm4YR</div> — ProPublica (@ProPublica)<a href="https://twitter.com/propublica/statuses/1305915938148147205">1600189597.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="36e4c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e7c8048c2755109629a3b3072fcb3261"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1304424041814593539" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Meatpacking union @UFCW, which reps workers at this plant (four of whom died), slams OSHA for the small $13k fine a… https://t.co/tnhfKd89ab</div> — Dave Jamieson (@Dave Jamieson)<a href="https://twitter.com/jamieson/statuses/1304424041814593539">1599833901.0</a></blockquote></div><p>The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents Smithfield Foods workers, <a href="https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/crime/2020/09/10/osha-fines-smithfield-foods-sioux-falls-south-dakota/5768786002/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=f7bf3f03-ce98-4df4-9c45-f44d9a6a5890" target="_blank">slammed</a> the fine as "insulting and a slap on the wrist."</p><p>"How much is the health, safety, and life of an essential worker worth? Based on the actions of the Trump administration, clearly not much," said UFCW president Marc Perrone.</p><p>"This so-called 'fine' is a slap on the wrist for Smithfield, and a slap in the face of the thousands of American meatpacking workers who have been putting their lives on the line to help feed America since the beginning of this pandemic," Perrone added. </p><p>Other critics, including vegans, vegetarians, and animal rights and environmental advocates argued that the accelerated spread of Covid-19 from meatpacking facilities is but the latest compelling argument in favor of reducing—or eliminating—meat consumption.</p><p>"We know that Covid-19 originated in a meat market and that previous influenza viruses originated in pigs and chickens," People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) <a href="https://www.peta.org/blog/meat-shortage-slaugherhouses-go-vegan/" target="_blank">said</a> in April amid news that a Foster Farms slaughterhouse in Livingston, California was <a href="https://www.peta.org/blog/coronavirus-covid-19-slaughterhouse-meat-concerns/?utm_source=PETA::Twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=0420::veg::PETA::Twitter::Workers%20Blame%20Major%20Pig%20Slaughterhouse%20600%20Infected%20COVID-19::::tweet" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ordered closed</a> by local health authorities due to a Covid-19 outbreak that killed eight employees.</p>
<div id="28490" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="48ddd3480a2beb42597d9516ef652f0f"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1252416495990140929" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS! @SmithfieldFoods allegedly took NO PRECAUTIONS to protect the safety of its workers, leaving o… https://t.co/viAJ026pLy</div> — PETA (@PETA)<a href="https://twitter.com/peta/statuses/1252416495990140929">1587434336.0</a></blockquote></div><p>"It's not a matter of <em>whether</em> using and killing animals for food will give rise to another disease outbreak—it's a matter of <em>when</em>," said PETA. "There has never been a better, more obvious time for businesses to put an end to their dirty trade of slaughtering animals for their flesh." </p>
By Andrea Willige
More than half of the world's population lives in cities, and most future population growth is predicted to happen in urban areas. But the concentration of large numbers of people and the ecosystems built around their lives has also been a driver of climate change.