There are myths and legends about the animals they eat, because the hunters understand the hunted. People who live close to their food source thank their prey for laying down its life. They use every bit of the animal, respecting the sacrifice and honoring it by wasting nothing.
Such people also have an intimate undestanding of the plants they eat. For instance, Native Americans consider corn, beans and squash to be the Three Sisters. They plant them together. The corn makes a stalk that the beans can climb up, the beans capture nitrogen that enriches the soil for the corn, and the squash produces copious vines that keep the others’ roots cool and help conserve water:
In late spring, we plant the corn and beans and squash. They’re not just plants- we call them the three sisters. We plant them together, three kinds of seeds in one hole. They want to be together with each other, just as we Indians want to be together with each other. So long as the three sisters are with us we know we will never starve. The Creator sends them to us each year. We celebrate them now. We thank Him for the gift He gives us today and every day.– Chief Louis Farmer (Onondaga)
Now, consider how Americans obtain their food.
The farmer raises the cow, then ships it to a feed lot, who auctions it to a purveyor, who sells it to the slaughter house, who chops it in big pieces and ships it to the grocery store, who packages it in little saran-wrapped packages with styrofoam trays.
Then you buy it. Do you know which cow your beef came from? Did you live in relation with it? Do you even know what part of the country…or world your meal came from?
Do you know what a whole cow looks like, put together without the plastic?
When food becomes disconnected from its source, it loses its value. People who don’t respect food overeat, eat things that are bad for them, and waste food. And our bodies show it.