"Mindful Eating" by Ashton Hethcote

My true mindfulness journey just started, sparked by a sudden awareness of my relationship with food and how I nourish my body. I am not perfect when it comes to my eating habits, and I have never questioned what I was eating or where my food was coming from.  Living as a typical millennial American consumer, the reality of my eating has been far less than impeccable. I’m ashamed to admit, I've hit the drive-through daily.

It wasn’t until I decided to divert from the professional path I was on, and jump in to the realm of UGo Bars with mentor and friend Rebecca, that I truly started paying attention to the impact of my food choices.  It was impossible to not start paying attention.  The mission behind UGo Bars is simple, be mindful of what you eat.  While this statement is simple, the meaning is so much more.  

Photography by Aubrey Dunnuck

I think of mindful eating as the first domino in an endless line. When I made that first push, and became curious of what I was eating, a million little dominos started falling behind it.  Where did my food come from?  WHO did my food come from?  What was the impact on those communities?  How did the production affect our planet?  Even with a little research, I was very quickly introduced to the flaws of our food system, and I know I have only scratched the surface.  Through a lack of relationship with my food, I had a lack of awareness.  I had no idea what was going on behind the scenes, like the effect our current food system has on our planet and our communities, or of the convoluted supply chain that transports our food from wherever it came from to our plates.

That’s when I started a small pact with myself, “be more mindful about what you eat.” This is about being curious about the effects of my own habits, and recognizing that there are areas I could make small changes to have a more aware and sustainable life.

When I make mindful food choices, I am choosing to see more than my food at face value. I am choosing to know a little more of the back story, and know how my food traveled from planet to plate. Wherever it comes from, our food impacts our earth, for the two things are connected for better or for worse. The interconnection of our planet, our communities, and our cultural practices are what fostered my awareness and what fuel me to want to ensure that I know the impact of my decisions.

By putting more thought into one meal, the effect has trickled into more attention to what fill my grocery bag with, and where I am filling that grocery bag at. It is when I allowed myself to be aware of the outcomes of my decisions, that I truly saw there was a part I could play in bettering myself, my community, and the planet that provides for me. When you practice mindfulness, you allow yourself to be aware of your thoughts and feelings without judgement.  It’s not about changing my whole lifestyle at one time to become what is coined as a completely sustainable and ethical life.  It’s about allowing myself to collect the knowledge, and in turn the desire, to willingly participate in mindful decision making.

I encourage everyone to take a moment today to begin your own journey, whether it’s taking an extra second at the coffee shop to ask where the beans came from, or a couple minutes at the end of the day to look up the best local markets in your area.  

A quote from Feeding Tomorrow Documentary sums it up perfectly “If we change the way we look at food, you change the way we look at life.”

In a few weeks ask yourself of what other things you have become aware! 

 


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