What does food really contain? What information is there that we cannot “see”? Many people break food down to its chemical composition, and look at its nutritional value: protein, fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, sugar, fat, organic versus conventional, and so on. This helps us understand the visible aspects of food. However the most important element of food is the one we can’t see. For this, we have to delve deep down to appreciate the unique essence and energetic properties of each food.
Nature and Human Connections
The Five Element Consciousness Framework organizes many aspects of Nature and the human body into a readable “map”. One connection is Nature’s seasons and our corresponding “tastes”. We are currently transitioning from Summer–Fire element and bitter taste–to Late Summer–Earth element and sweet taste. We see how Nature transitions from one season to the next, and can begin to understand the importance of Late Summer as its own “transition” season–the shortest of the year, which creates a bridge into the cooler Fall weather.
Summer and Late Summer
As Summer draws to a close, we enjoy the last few harvests of tomatoes, zucchini, and cucumbers from our backyard gardens, mixing them with greens like endive and radicchio and dressing them in lemon and vinegar for a lip-puckering bitter taste that supports our Hearts. During the last few days of summer, we munch on berries and juicy watermelon before these seasonal crops end. As we welcome in Late Summer, we tend toward more earthy foods–potatoes, carrots, squash, pumpkin and peanuts–and sweets too, such as mango, papaya, red grapefruit and red apples.
Connections to Nature
In Chinese medicine, connections and relationships are valued above all else. Foods are chosen for their taste, as noted above, and their essence. For example, ginger has a warm taste and a warm essence, while cucumber has a cooling essence. In addition to the connections we make with foods, we have to look toward the connections the food itself makes in Nature. Cucumbers are adaptable, reaching out their vines to find a sturdy place to stretch out and grow. Apples are hearty, having the consciousness of every season in its fruit. Apple trees must weather the Winter in order to bloom in Spring and turn into harvestable fruit come Fall. Apples have a very different healing essence from lettuce, which grows quickly and close to the ground. An apple is lighter, easier to digest, and contains more healing wisdom than lettuce as it has had more time to assimilate information from Nature.
What Messages Do You Receive?
So the next time you are in the supermarket, take a moment to look at the fruits and vegetables on display. Think about where those foods came from, and how much time they had to bask in Nature’s sun, soak up its rain and weather its wind, snow and ice. What invisible messages do you receive from the foods you choose to put on your plate?
Enjoy another blog about food from the TCM perspective: Humans and Food: Their Connection to the Universe.
Join us this fall for a 6-week Dragon’s Way Qigong® program or try another upcoming event!