Bring back Grace?

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Bring back Grace? Could saying grace an OG form of mindful eating?

Over the course of the class we have been doing intermittent mindful eating practices. During our last one, I was reminded of my childhood when we traditionally said Grace before meals (though we were a secular family).  This was a time when we came together, holding hands, smiling at each other and our food. We were silent until my mother spoke, “Bless the food that nourishes our bodies and bless the love that nourishes our hearts”.

Our ability to see our place in global foodscape may be directly linked to the degree we practice mindful eating. It was as simple as taking a few conscious breaths, gently smiling and acknowledging each other’s presence while holding hands. Saying Grace was the way my family appreciated the food, how it came to be, and the love that connected us to that food. In this moment of quietness and peace we allowed ourselves to reset and connect to the food before us. We were at ease before we started eating. A way to enter a meal, to slow down, appreciate and then begin to eat in a way that appreciates the work that went into making the food, the farmers that grew it, and the earth as a whole. The sounds, colors, smells and textures of both the moment and the food would come into focus as we paused to appreciate- before taking our first bit. As we slowly ate, the first things said were usually “please pass the… “garden grown green beans, garlic-butter mash potatoes ..etc..” by calling the food by its name we acknowledged its true nature. We revealed the presence and or absence of toxins in the dish. These traditions were a way I am just now realizing my family traditionally brought mindfulness to family meals.

Cultures across the global and throughout time have expressed gratitude for their food and for the earth before eating. Perhaps the few seconds you take to give thanks, appreciate how the food got to you and your own place in the world is just as important to your health as how you eat the food (though I would bet they are interdependent as well).

2 thoughts on “Bring back Grace?

  1. Sy Scotty Ruiz

    Hi Anna,
    Up until reading your blog response, I had never thought about the relation between mindful eating and saying grace. The few moments a person can take to acknowledge the origin of the food they are about to eat, can have a much bigger impact than one can imagine. Like your experiences, my family traditionally said grace before meals. Yet, living in a Christian home also meant that saying grace looked a bit different than it would in a secular home. Our focus was shifted away from the origin of the food and shifted towards giving thanks for the opportunity to enjoy the food on the table. After reading your blog post, I have begun to ponder whether the combination of these two different focuses would be beneficial for all non-secular families that currently say grace before eating. Could saying grace be a form of mindful eating? If so, would framing “mindful eating” as saying “grace”, encourage families to partake in the practice regardless any religious affiliation?

  2. Cindy Liu

    Hi Anna,

    First off, I just wanted to say that you have a creative way of framing contemplative practices in relation to our own personal experiences with food and I really appreciate this form of contemplation. Often, when we do contemplative practices there isn’t food right in front of us as we contemplate and think about how it relates to us. I have never thought about saying grace as a visual way of not only being grateful for the food that was prepared by the people we closely associate ourselves with, but how taking this class allows us to see the food through a food systems lens. The topics discussed in this class really relate to our shapeshifting views on food and allow us to understand that food is so much more than just the product from some far away farm that we aren’t directly associated with. Like we discussed in lecture, food even goes through many stages before it reaches our plates—there’s the initial stages of farming, the energy that goes into that product, the food going to a supplier and many host companies, and that food ultimately ending up in a retail store where it can be sold to many people. I completely agree with the idea that saying grace is an opportunity to delve into those stages and see food in a different light other than the product that’s simply on our plates.

    You brought up an interesting point of view that many of our authors don’t often discuss that I wanted to expand. How does the consumption of food and our general attitudes about it relate to religious views/practices? That’s not to say that people who aren’t religious aren’t thoughtful towards food in general, but it does make me question how the effect of saying grace might even mean that people actively having deep thoughts about it. For me, I full-heartedly believe that contemplative practice is the first step in making a difference. If saying grace allows people to be more thoughtful, it makes me wonder if there are any other everyday practices that would instill that same awareness enough to change the world.

    Thank you for your thoughtful post!


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