Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Soul recipes include insights to chew on

Following the "Feasting and Fasting" theme for the November-December issue (no.251) of Resurgence magazine, Thomas Moore writes, "Food for the Soul".

In his article about increasing food’s imaginal power, Moore includes, "Perhaps the greatest challenge in this time of rapid technological advance and the shrinking of the globe is to create a world community. But that important task can’t be done in the abstract. Food can play a role. Food as community, not as a commodity. Whatever power allows lunch to foster friendship, wedding cake a marriage, and bread and wine a religion could make a community of the world’s population. But we need first to restore soul to food."
"If growers, packagers and sellers would treat food as having great potential for meaning, we might think more about eating moderately and healthfully. We might discover the power of food to cultivate friendships and family. We might appreciate its capacity to foster the all-important virtue of conviviality. Possessed of that virtue, the joy in being cohabitants of the planet, we might understand our role in making sure that the children of the world never go hungry.

ANOTHER WAY FOOD contributes to conviviality is in its extraordinary power to make the pleasures of ethnic diversity concrete and sensual. Is it the physical organism or the soul that craves an Italian dinner one night and Indian the next? The taste and colour and texture of food evoke a people and a style of life, and everyone, at any place on the globe, can be enriched as a person by tasting foreign food.”
. . .
But unfortunately imagination is not high among our priorities. When we turn food into a mere object, we tend to abuse it and abuse ourselves with it. We substitute quantity for quality. We don’t have a sensual experience of food, and therefore we eat too much. Our imagination is ‘out to lunch’, and so we stuff our bodies. We don’t value the role of food in our friendships and families, and therefore we tolerate the fast, unconscious, ungraceful ingestion of solids and liquids that today passes for dining."
Throughout the piece, Moore draws on his practice of psychotherapy to show food’s role in cultivating soul.

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