Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bounty Meditations: Food for Thought

Fast fact: While many people in Westernized nations try to speed up their metabolisms to be able to eat more, the opposite is true of many people in third world nations.

In layman's terms, metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories.  The typical Shona schedule in my country has been adopted by a group of people needing to stretch food as far as possible. It has been ingeniously designed, without the formal  knowledge of scientific biological mechanisms, to slow down the metabolism, allowing people to eat less by burning less calories.

A typical Shona schedule involves work and play from daybreak until 9 or 10 am.  At this time, the first food of the day is then ingested. When one tries to speed up a metabolism, it is often recommended that food be eaten within an hour at most of rising. Waiting so long into the day often results in a slowed metabolism. As our gardener puts it, "You wait to turn on the hungry longer!" This meal, called "tea" typically involves bread or toast (often smeared with mashed avocado, fruit, or jam) and tea with large amounts of sugar. Sometimes leftover sadza is also eaten, mixed with mashed groundnuts (also called peanut butter).

Work and play is then done from 10 or 11 until approximately 1 or 2 pm.  Another tea is then taken. This tea often looks more like a lunch, though, with vegetables, fruit, eggs, biscuits, or a non-refrigerated dairy product called lactose.  Hot tea is again the typical drink of choice.  This is interesting, as iced water and cold drinks are typically understood to speed up the metabolism.

Work and play is continued in the afternoon, usually ending around 5 pm.  A dinner, always the largest meal of the day, is often a vegetable dish with sauce and sadza.  It is eaten just before an early bedtime.  Dinner then sits in the stomach for a long time, slowly digesting.  "We go to bed fat!" I am told.  More food will not be eaten for another 15 hours or so.

It would be fascinating to see how other cultures around the world have unconsciously adjusted their schedules to get the most from their limited bounties.  Funny how our Westernized world is now moving in the opposite direction!

* Please note that it is never my intention to overgeneralize or stereotype when discussing other cultures.  It is my intention to discuss broad ideas and ways of living, but never to imply that there are not thousands of people who will not fit into these categories.