Prepare Less to Eat More.
It is this time of the year when we are actively thinking about Christmas preparation. A major part of it is focused on food provision. We take the tradition of laying our tables with plenitude and abundance for granted. Yet we hardly ever stop to think why we feel compelled to do so, year in, year out. And the result of our mindless automated Christmas food preparation is a shocking amount of binned provision. The British alone throw away the equivalent of 2 million turkeys, 5 million Christmas puddings and 74 million mince pies. Meanwhile, 10% of children in the UK are living in households affected by severe food insecurity.
These figures are not easy to swallow down. Therefore, now may be the right time to stop and deliberate on our collective Christmas food preparation frenzy. As Christmas is essentially a holiday of religious origin, it seems logical to look for a connection between the celebration and exuberant food manifestation rooted in religion.
Food and Religion
Food and food security are major themes in all known faiths, which all have a large section of their practices and rituals devoted to food abundance. Undoubtedly, this is so because, throughout the history of mankind, food has always been scarce and hard to provide. Yet these days, in most European and North American countries, we enjoy relative food security.
Food security might be the likely reason for the growing disassociation between religion and food provision. Meal grace and food blessings are unfamiliar concepts in most modern households. Nevertheless, at Christmas, we tend to manifest food in a pagan and ritualistic way, as if our survival depends on it.
Food and Symbolism of the Winter Solstice
Christmas is a periodical and predictable calendrical rite that marks the passing of time coinciding with seasonal changes. It takes place just a few days after commencement of the Astronomical Winter in the Northern Hemisphere, on December 21st. But this is also the date of the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Winter may be associated with dormancy, darkness and cold. But the Winter Solstice, in fact, marks the “turning” or the “the return” of the sun, when days start growing longer. Therefore, pagan religions associate this period with great symbolism and power. The festivals of light and the God of the Son, centred around this time of the year, have been common throughout cultures and history.
Our ancestors knew that after the longest night of the year, the sun would start its journey back towards the Earth. It was a time of rejoicing in the knowledge that soon, the warm days of spring would return, and the dormant earth would come back to life. A celebration of the lighter days to come and the circle of life. People would feast hard, a time when food was actually scarce, to manifest the hope for an abundance of food in the new year. Overindulgence was common as an antidote to the freezing cold, dark and depressive winters.
But today, food insecurity in the Western World is an exception, not the rule. Thanks to the comforts of our civilization, we experience neither do the coldness, nor the darkness of the winter the way our ancestors did. Yet judging by the way we prepare for Christmas, one might get the impression that quite the opposite is true. We lay our tables with plentitude to welcome a new year of abundance. Then throw away half of the food untouched. What message are we actually sending “out there”, to the Universe?
Christmas and our Food Waste Culture
Pope Francis, whose sayings tend to resonate as words of wisdom around the globe, way beyond the Catholic community, guides us to avoid our ‘throwaway culture’. The Pontiff has challenged us to shun the quest for more, more, more in favour of solidarity. His words can relate to Christmas, as buying less, preparing less and sharing more with those less fortunate.
The words of the Pontiff can prompt us to remind ourselves, that as we sit down to our family tables topped with plentitude, there are just under a billion (800 million) people who still live in hunger. “This culture of waste has made us insensitive even to the waste and disposal of food.” The Pope continuous, “that this is even more despicable when all over the world, unfortunately, many individuals and families are suffering from hunger and malnutrition.”
Yet, we waste enough food to feed those hungry four times over. “Once our grandparents were very careful not to throw away any leftover food. Consumerism has led us to become used to an excess and daily waste of food, to which, at times we are no longer able to give a just value,” the Pope speaks his words of caution.
So, on the occasion of the upcoming celebrations of manifesting food abundance, let’s be grateful for the food we have. Let’s resolve to do with less, because less means more, for all of us.
Let’s approach Christmas this year with a less pagan mindset and make it a celebration of reconnecting. Reconnecting with our families, with our friends, but also with ourselves. By doing so, we can make a resolution for the upcoming year, to be more mindful and thoughtful about the way we treat food. We can harness our inner strength to let go of our automated behaviour of overprovisioning. The battle for a return to a more sustainable world is a long one. We have a challenging road ahead of us in 2019.
Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of the poor and the hungry
Get your CozZo app today to help you be more mindful about your Christmas food preparation and shop only what you have planned and plan only what your family can really eat.