July 28, 2013

Breaking news: chicken is chicken. We stand with Safeway on this one.

Chicken Found in Chicken Package: Are We Too Disconnected From Nature?

It’s important to recognize that everything came from somewhere.

This week a woman in Phoenix found a chicken foot sealed into a package of chicken breasts. Appalled, she took to Twitter: “Hey, @Safeway, does this look like ‘chicken breast’ to you? I’m vomiting.” After some correspondence with Safeway she returned to the store to find the foot still there, and alerted the media. In a statement sent to Safeway she said she was “shocked” and that she “couldn’t believe” what she was seeing. She also said “I asked the man near me to look at it and agreed that it was disgusting.”

Why news organizations felt this was a story worth reporting, I have no idea. Even more confusing to me is why finding a chicken foot in a package of chicken breasts is so “disgusting.”

Isn’t a chicken foot just another part of the animal we are consuming when we buy chicken breasts?

This story is representative of the cognitive dissonance that exists when it comes to our food and how it gets to our plates. Why do we get upset by one part of an animal’s body, but not the other?

But it’s also representative of a larger issue—we are increasingly becoming more disconnected from nature. This woman in Phoenix for instance, seems to have forgotten that the chicken breasts she buys were once connected to a chicken head and to chicken feet.

It’s an easy thing for us to forget—when we buy meat it looks nothing like the animal it used to be. It’s already skinned, cleaned and packaged so that we conveniently don’t need to think about it.

And clearly, as the woman in Phoenix illustrates, that’s how we prefer it.

Last week I attended an online workshop given by Caroline Myss. During the question portion of the evening, someone asked about animals and if they are intuitive. Her answer was a resounding yes, but she went further, explaining that animals are no different than any other species. “We all breathe together,” she said.

She went on to say, “We’ve separated ourselves from nature by saying they’re animals, we’re not. We’re not part of the animal kingdom. We’re not part of nature. And that’s precisely why we see ourselves as able to abuse nature … and people don’t get that’s exactly why we no longer understand our own natures.

We seem to have forgotten that it’s not just about us. The resources we use aren’t only for our purposes. The water, trees, animals—all of it—exists for its own sake.

Several months ago I was waiting in the security line at the airport when one of the bag inspectors stomped near me, huffed and threw several full-size bottles of shampoo in the garbage.

She was clearly annoyed that people don’t get the 3 oz. rule by now and that someone had tried to sneak something past her.

But when those bottles hit the bottom of the trash can I felt a similar thud in my gut.

What a waste.

At the very least couldn’t these bottles have been put in a recycling bin? Or even better, in a box that could be donated to a homeless shelter?

All of the resources that were used to make that shampoo and the bottle that held it were just tossed without a second thought.

These moments and others like them call to us for mindfulness. Whether it’s our dinner or what we use to wash our hair, it’s important to recognize that everything came from somewhere. Whether plant or animal, everything is connected to a living thing.

Nature isn’t just something “outside.” It’s not a thing from which we are separate. You can feel it when you’re in it—whether walking up a mountainside or floating on the water—there is something that happens to us. We feel calmer, more still. We feel more connected and grounded.

I’ve found this to be true every single time I’m in nature.

In yoga, many of us strive to live the principle of ahimsa—the practice of compassionate living, and of doing no harm—to ourselves or others. It asks us to bring conscious awareness to our words, thoughts and deeds. But this type of compassion also extends to nature and animals as well.

For everything to survive, we all have to be working together and showing respect and gratitude for the gifts the earth provides. We have to stop treating everything as if it is here for only us. When we aren’t mindful of our connection to nature we forget, as Myss says, our own true nature.

We can connect more by taking time every day to spend time in nature. We may live in a city or spend our days in an office,  but that doesn’t mean we can’t find small ways to bring the natural world into our lives. Here are some helpful ways to do so. Even doing small things, like tending to a plant, or listening to the birds in the morning can be enough to help us remember who we are and our place in the bigger picture.

In doing so, we can begin to remember that our actions have consequences, and to feel once again the connection between everything. When we feel that connection we become kinder and more compassionate. And when we are kinder and more compassionate, we slowly begin to heal ourselves and our planet.

Bonus: 13 Quotes to Inspire Our Connection with Nature.


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