Ekev. Mindful Eating
I have never personally experienced a day of real hunger in my life. Have you? We are surrounded by such an abundance of food that we are the generation who are trying to eat less; not more.
In a 2016 report, the Guardian reported that 60 million tons of food are wasted annually by retailers and consumers ($160bn), about a third of all foodstuffs; and much of it is discarded because it doesn’t conform to the aesthetic standards that stores and consumers want.
How can we learn to more deeply appreciate the food we eat?
This week, the Torah teaches us that our relationship with food should generate a greater mindfulness, and an attitude of humility and appreciation. We read about the contrast between the wilderness and Eretz Yisrael:
Remember the long way that the Lord your God has made you travel in the wilderness these past forty years…He subjected you to the hardship of hunger and then gave you manna to eat, which neither you nor your fathers had ever known… For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams and springs and fountains issuing from plain and hill; a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey; a land where you may eat food without stint, where you will lack nothing… When you have eaten your fill, give thanks to the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. (Deut 8:2-9)
These verses contrast the wilderness years, where our sustenance was provided by God, with the natural land of Eretz Yisrael. There, natural water springs and abundant agriculture will provide our daily needs.