Food and spirituality

“The last supper” by Leonardo da Vinci (Pubblico dominio, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24759)

Today Catholics celebrate Easter. In Italy (and in most countries) we are celebrating it in quarantine, respecting social distancing.

While I was looking for papers for my PhD dissertation, I found an interesting article, which explores the relationship between food and spirituality.

Spirituality and food share the fact that they are not only about theories, but they are embedded in our everyday life.

Both spirituality and food are universal aspects of human life and have psychological, physical and emotional characteristics.

Rituals, practices and hunting (by Mayas, Hindus and Inuits, for example) for food allow humans to feel spiritual satisfaction and to get closer to their religious traditions.

A very common action, like breaking the bread has a strong spiritual meaning, as well as an educational and cultural one, when bread is broken when the whole family is around the table. Family traditions and faith are strongly related to the spiritual aspects of food consumption.

Several dying patients found social and spiritual comfort by eating some kind of food, which was connected to their memories.

For small groups, or minorities, such as African American Sunni Muslim in the USA, food in one of the way to express their religious commitment. Food connects people and provides and immediate feeling of belonging.

Studies show that parents, who give their children more vegetables, are more concerned with their children’s spiritual, social and physical well-being.

Some farmers in Thailand started to grow food organically, following Buddhist teachings. They reported an increased biodiversity and felt a sense of connection to their land and Mother Earth.

The authors of the article proposed a definition for the term “Food Spirituality”:

An innate sense of connection that a subject can experience to and through food in regard to personal and social identity, culture and ritual, nature and the environment, body and soul, the mundane and the universal.

Do you think there is a relationship between food and spirituality? Do you have one?

Reference:

Michopoulou and Jauniskis, “Exploring the relationship between food and spirituality: A literature review”, (2020), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhm.2020.102494

Published by Martina Bodner

Biotechnologist, PhD Candidate in Food Chemistry, Science Teacher, STEM and autism advocate, mother.

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