There are dietary restrictions in almost every major religion on this earth. For old-testament literalists, things like pigs and shellfish are out. For Hindus, cows are considered sacred. Yet, there is no dietary restriction, per say, for pagans, Wiccans, and the like.
Do we need one? I don’t think so, no, but I do think that some of us fail to honor our bodies in quite the way we should. And certainly, some of us consume a lot of high-energy food products that may damage both our bodies and the world around us.
Let’s consider this for a moment, with a little self reflection. I used to eat a lot of meat. As you may know, meat is considered a “high-energy” product because to raise a cow in the US, you need acres of wheat and corn to fatten it up, and then you send it miles away to a butchering facility, then it goes miles away to a grocery store and gets packaged and sold to you.
Compare that beef to say, a stalk of corn in Ohio. Now, granted, most of the corn grown in Ohio is not “human” corn — its corn intended for energy, subsidized by the government, or for cows. But, let’s say a local farmer just sticks a bunch of corn into the ground and helps it grow. Beyond the water and maybe some organic fertilizer, there’s not much else that goes into the growth. And, when its ready, machines or hands harvest it, and hopefully, bring it to your local farmer’s market where you buy it and bring it home. The mileage traveled, the energy spent, is far less for the 100 calories of corn than it is for 100 calories of cow.
In a world where energy consumption is a concern, both for monetary reasons and for environmental reasons, it’s important that we consider what we’re consuming and how. All moral arguments aside, although I have many vegetarian pagan friends, surely you could find ways to eat less meat. Not NO meat, just less.
For me, I found my way to “less meat” through money. When I moved, I was shocked at just how expensive meat products were in my new location. At 2-4 dollars a pound instead of 1-3 dollars a pound, I quickly found ways to stretch my meat usage or choose non-meat based meals. And I can’t imagine buying the amount of meat that I used to eat if I was buying free-range or organic meats.
But meat’s not the only area where I think that I could reduce my consumption — and have, over the last few months. The other big area is fluff products: prepared frozen products or shelf products loaded with preservatives.
A DiGiorno pizza at my local grocery store (Kroger or Meijer) costs $6-7 and comes with this ingredients list:
INGREDIENTS: ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), WATER, SHREDDED LOW-MOISTURE PART-SKIM MOZZARELLA CHEESE (PART-SKIM MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SALT, ENZYMES), TOMATO PASTE, PEPPERONI MADE WITH PORK, CHICKEN AND BEEF (PORK, MECHANICALLY SEPARATED CHICKEN, BEEF, SALT, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF PORK STOCK, SPICES, DEXTROSE, LACTIC ACID STARTER CULTURE, PAPRIKA, NATURAL SMOKE FLAVOR, OLEORESIN PAPRIKA, SODIUM ASCORBATE, SODIUM NITRITE, FLAVORING, BHA, BHT, CITRIC ACID), SUGAR, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF WHEAT GLUTEN, VEGETABLE OIL (SOYBEAN OIL AND/OR CORN OIL), WHITE CORN MEAL, SALT, YELLOW CORN MEAL, BAKING POWDER (BAKING SODA, SODIUM ALUMINUM PHOSPHATE), YEAST, SODIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE, DATEM, FLAVOR, SPICE, DRIED GARLIC, ASCORBIC ACID.
A pizza that I make, myself, with ABin5 dough (look it up, it’ll change your life) has the following ingredients:
Flour, salt, yeast, water, tomato paste, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni (optional).
Now, I know some of those have other ingredients in them, like the flour and the cheese, but I’d be hard pressed to find baking powder in a product that I’ve already added yeast to. On top of that, I don’t add sugar, extra wheat gluten, or oils to my pizza. Some of the more chemical sounding names are preservatives and salts added during the manufacturing process. I’m not saying they’re bad, but I’m saying: why consume them if you don’t have to?
My pizza costs me approximately $2.50 to make, with the highest cost going to the cheese and pepperoni. So, for half the price, I get a pizza that I’ve made on my own, that’s way more delicious, and often, the ingredients I buy (block of cheese for $6, pepperoni for $3, flour for $2, tomato paste for $1) make multiple pizzas, flatbreads, naan, or even fried dough.
I guess my point is that by making things at home, and choosing fresher products like vegetables over meat, you can reduce your grocery bill, reduce your environmental impact, and perhaps honor your temple (body) a little more than what you were before.
Part 2 will focus on this trend called, “green smoothies.”