There is an innate connection between food and health. Food and community. Food and wellbeing. Tapping into this relationship allows for connection with what it means to be present and mindful with food.
Physical and mental health benefit greatly from the grounding experience of healthy and mindful eating. Food is a powerful way to be present and mindful with yourself.
The farm to table model implies a direct relationship between where the food was grown (the farm) and where it is consumed (the table). This focus on local and sustainable eating offers a myriad of benefits.
Good for you – mind, body, and the spirit
For one, it is a purposeful way to contribute to eating wellness and mindful eating. This certainly is not the only way, but it can propel one’s journey by connecting at the source.
Eating wellness seeks to nourish the body and the spirit. Eating can and should be a source of happiness and joy. Appreciating food from its source is intentional and purposeful. It allows for the experience of being grounded and present.
Food provides sustenance that is integral for survival but transcends beyond that. It establishes a connection with others and the land, it contributes to generations of culture and flavor, and it provides nourishment in multiple forms.
Eating mindfulness is about taking a moment to truly be present and nourish the body and the mind. Eating in a healthy and well-balanced manner can decrease symptoms of depression.
Growing this food and sharing it in community and ritual have also shown to have beneficial results. There are a number of physiological, social, and biological advantages to sharing a meal with others. It provides a sense of connectedness as well as life rhythm and regularity.
Organic gardener, chef, and food writer Neil Zevik shares, “Essentially, mindfulness in eating is about looking inward and outward in your relationship with food. Internally, it is about being aware of how you feel about food, in the moment and in context; it is meditating upon the sources of your food and the effects of its production.” He suggests appreciating and reveling in the sensory effects of the food by pausing and paying attention.
Good for the land and the earth
With a farm to table model, the food is produced sustainably with care for the land, grown organically to harness pure nutrients and flavor, and harvested and consumed close to its source. The average fresh food item travels on an average of 1,500 miles for consumption. This leaves behind a large carbon footprint. The production of food, however, accounts for 83%, a larger percentage of emissions. This is affected by the degree to which fields are fertilized, land is irrigated and the use of pesticides.
Growing one’s food requires respect for the land by caring for it properly to ensure future harvests. This removes pesticides, chemicals, and food modification, which protect the one eating as well as the land itself.
With proper land management such as composting, the soil is protected and replenished instead of being stripped of nutrients and no longer viable. Additional resources do not need to be expended to ship the food to distant locations.
Mindful care for the land produces meaningful food. By connecting with the land and eating food that was grown there, it also allows one to appreciate where the food came from.
It can be easy for the connection between the land and food to become blurred. The connection is simple but extraordinarily meaningful.
Variety and new experiences with food
The farm to fork experience can also offer new experiences with food. By growing hand-selected local choices there is opportunity to experience new varieties of fruits and vegetables that are otherwise difficult to acquire.
There are countless types, tastes, and flavors of food that are impossible to find from traditional sources since they are harder to mass produce.
The Surya Chandra center prides itself in growing colors and textures of potatoes that cannot be found outside of local farms, varieties of basil that your tastebuds have never experienced, and offer organic fruits and vegetables straight from the source.
In a given year they grow approximately 15 types of tomatoes, with an assortment of cherry, plum, cocktail/Campari, beefstake/slicers and heirloom to be eaten fresh off the vine, shared with friends, or made into the most flavorful and delectable sauces.
Fresh and nutrient-rich
Such local foods eaten farm to fork are bursting with flavor with nutrients that have not faded in shipping or processing. This also means the food will be in season. Eating and building a lifestyle around seasonal food is said to support the body’s natural healing process.
The Columbia Climate School agrees that alongside the health benefits, “Eating foods that are in season and eating organic and less processed foods can further reduce one’s greenhouse gas emissions.”
Eating the food straight from the source is a unique way to enjoy pure, delicious, and fresh food. The freshness and taste are preserved with a higher caliber of quality and nutritional benefit.
The Surya Chandra Center values organic, homegrown, natural food, with orchards full of fresh fruits that have been growing in groves for decades and providing sustenance for generations.
Enjoying and being part of the farm to fork experience offers a rare and beautiful way to connect with food, the landscape, and one’s surroundings. It facilitates mindful eating, being present, and practicing appreciation.
Join us for a connective, unique, and memorable experience.
Ariel Back is a Boston-based writer and researcher with expertise in psychology and sustainability. She writes for All Things Greener, a newsletter on the psychology of pro-environmental behavior. Her work can be found at https://allthingsgreener.substack.com/
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