Food is not just for eating. And no, it’s not just for making necklaces out of pasta either. It is for teaching little people gratitude and compassion. It is for helping them to appreciate the vastness of the world they live in, as well as for showing them how small it actually is. They need to have a strong sense of guilt when binning left-overs that are rejected by our greedy, spoilt tummies. We must experience it ourselves so that we can model this healthy guilt to them.
Here are a few tips on how we can use our “daily bread” to give our kids the spiritual guidance they need to become truly beautiful human beings.
Every time we sit down to have a meal we have an opportunity for give thanks. There’s a huge number of people on this planet who cannot sit down to have a meal because they don’t even have a bowl to put their food in or a chair to sit on. No family to sit with and no….food. They’ve got no access to clean drinking water or basic food. Let alone the variety of stuff that is available in the West.
We are extremely lucky to have all that we’ve got. We should be grateful to Mother Nature (or whatever you want to choose as the receiver of your gratitude) for proving us with the food we enjoy. As a family, we can also say thanks for the opportunity to share food with others and look for ways to do so.
2. Un/fair trade
Kids also need to know that the food they enjoy is the result of millions of people slaving away so that they can have it. And those workers themselves are often poorly nourished which is, in part, our fault. We want more food, and we want it cheap. Hence, all the exploitation in the countries which produce this food for us. Kids need to see how they, from a very young age, are already shaping the lives of other people so that they become more mindful and turn into responsible adults in the future. They need to know about poverty, hunger and inequality. They need to know how blessed they are to be able to have a meal every single day.
We need to know how blessed we are because we are able to provide them with that food. We must try our best to not waste it.
A nice meal is a mini-world map. It connects us to every other human being on earth. We should encourage our children to imagine all the places that their food comes from. And all the people who plant, grown, harvest, pack, ship, deliver and sell it to us. We’re a huge family. Inter-dependency is what it’s all about. The beauty of life is in that we cannot survive without this unity. We do things for other people and they do things to meet our needs.
4. Life force
Kids need to know that their bodies are little machines. To be looked after. To be fed nicely. And nature has arranged it so that we can get everything we need from it. It gives us fruit and veg so that our bellies do a good job. It provides milk for our bones. It supplies us with blueberries and carrots for our eyes. And every single thing is infinitely full of goodness.
Encourage the tiny explorers to look at something small and simple like an apple and investigate what it does for them. From keeping their teeth whiter and making their heart healthier to helping their bodies fight diseases and guarding them against serious stuff like Alzheimer, Parkinson and certain types of cancers in the future. You don’t need to be a dietician to explain that to them. But you can enjoy researching interesting healthy eating facts together.
5. A sense of awe
The greatest gift you can give to your kid is to help them visualise the incredible journey of food. From a tiny seed to an apple tree to a delicious piece of fruit that goes into their lunch box and is then used by their body to help them grow and stay healthy. The sense of connected-ness to other people who live miles away from us, the sense of wonder at how beautifully this world is made…food allows us to experience all this and much more.
Let’s enjoy every bite with a sense of awe and gratitude.
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