Chocolate, Cocoa, and Contemplation

Contemplative practices have been an interesting approach to understanding larger food systems. In particular, it has helped me understand food “culture” in America on a much deeper level. Food culture (and generally culture as well) in America is dominated by on the go, fast paced ideals. We want success, a beautiful body, and our good, healthy food and we want it now. We work longer hours so we can get rich faster, we eat lunch at our desks so we can multitask. Capitalist consumer culture pushes us to work harder and faster so individuals are able to succeed faster, and this same mind set has been transferred over into our food habits. These contemplative practices have began to make me be more mindful while eating, by putting more attention and energy on really tasting the food and the flavours. One way that I found to be particularly interesting was when we ate the raisins, and allowed it to savour in our mouths before eating it. I’m so used to just devouring a meal, and not really thinking about what it would taste like if I just let it sit in my mouth longer and taking my time to eat it. It was this practice that allowed me to think more broadly about why I have a much different eating habit.

My favourite contemplative practice we have done, however, was the one involving chocolate and cocoa. This may be due to the fact we go to eat chocolate in class, but mostly because it allowed me to see the breakdown of ingredients and how that relates to different systems. Watching the video on how people in African countries grew cocoa and reacted to eating chocolate for the first time made me think a lot about the colonial effects that still exist today. These developing countries are still growing food and ingredients to fit first world needs- like the luxury of dessert, the privilege of having chocolate. While the raisins allowed me to think of our own domestic food culture, the chocolate and cocoa helped me understand international food systems through seeing how we experience ingredients, versus how those who produce them do.

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