Random musings on the pizza of consciousness

From the archives 2014:

File:Pepperoni pizza.jpg

Image: Jon Sullivan

I like cooking, but, as I may have mentioned before, I don’t do it often these days… unless I have company. It seems a waste just for me. For myself it is usually either fill the pot with something that will do me a few days or pick at cheese and stuff. I’m pretty hopeless that way, as Ani would agree. She likes leftovers… and if I don’t cook, there aren’t any … though cheese is always welcome. She is pretty much omnivorous and the food waste bin is never used. There is no food waste, between Ani, the birds and the garden.

But I have been really fancying a pizza. Not, I hasten to add, the frozen variety. Nor can I justify… or afford… to have them delivered. So the sleeves were rolled up, the cupboards raided, and I went into that zone that I love when the ingredients of food become the raw materials of creation. It is a contemplative state and my mind wanders in odd directions so we made pizza, the small dog and I. She gets very interested when I cook… and I had bought ham.

Now it has been borne in upon me, mainly by a disgruntled small dog, that most of the time my diet is vegetarian. Not so much through choice, but just practicalities…. Though there are mornings when a nice bacon barm cake would go down very well… and while I was cooking I was musing on that. I’m neither nether vegetarian nor vegan, and this year the figures of those who become one or the other are predicted to rise. I respect those who have made this life choice, many for reasons of real compassion. For myself… and I stress this is just a personal opinion… what bothers me more than eating meat is the lack of conscience and consciousness in how we do it. And the waste. There is a huge debate to be had here and excellent arguments on all sides of the table. What I find indefensible is our divorce from the source of food.

Recent surveys have shown how little our children… even as young adults… know about where meat comes from, they know little of how fruit and vegetables grow… for many potatoes grow on trees, and eggs are made from wheat! As to the belief that pasta comes from animals and fish fingers from chicken….! If we can’t even give the basics to the next generations how on earth are they going to make an informed choice for themselves? How can debates about factory farming touch them when they don’t know that lamb is actually that little fluffy thing gambolling around in the spring fields looking cute, venison and Bambi synonymous and veal a young calf?

But it goes deeper than that. It is about responsibility too. Anyone who has taken a life to put food on the table knows where it has come from. The ‘less’ civilised societies have always honoured both the hunter and the hunted, keeping a reverence for the beasts and plants that  feed them, seeing a natural order in the cycle of life and death of all species that sustain the life of the world. Waste becomes unthinkable and all parts of an animal are used… and with gratitude too. Sterile packages on supermarket shelves divorce us from that knowledge… and from the reverence for life. Even saying grace at table seems to have largely died in our society, and that gave a moment of gratitude that blessed both donor and diner.

Having said that, the indefinable quality that is Life is shared equally by fruit and vegetables.  We are still taking a life by eating a lettuce. The only difference is the level of consciousness that we perceive in the life taken, as defined by man, a species far from omniscient. But a lettuce doesn’t look back at us as we tear it from the ground, it doesn’t scream. Or at least, if it does, we can’t hear it. It has no voice. The apparent lack of consciousness salves our conscience.

Yet I remember vividly watching the machines that measured my son’s life in the coma… there too there was no apparent life beyond the machine, no consciousness, no feeling…. For weeks… nothing. Yet consciousness was there…removed from our sight, hidden beyond our knowledge and measure, yet leaving its mark in memory when the lights went on for him again.

Layering the pizza I was struck by how similar it was to the way I see life. Beneath a firm foundation of the simple bread dough is the mineral level… the metal of the baking tray. Without a tray one cannot lift the uncooked pizza into the oven. Without the dough there is no pizza… just a soggy dissociated mess. Next the tomatoes smother the dough… you can no longer see it, only glimpse it round the edges… Herbs and spices, other vegetables, fruit… all the colour and variety… The cheeses, one of the few animal products that do not cost a life, came next and the ham to finish.

Still of course, the pizza was not done. All the disparate ingredients needed cooking together to make the whole. It needed heat… that invisible something that brings the dish to life. To make this one thing to sustain life, the lives of many things were needed… from the potential of the seeds in the tomatoes to the pig who gave the ham… from the organisms in the yeast to the fossilised fuels that have provided heat… Even a little bit of my life, as time. The different layers of life, levels of consciousness we perceive… and those we do not, yet we cannot say there is no consciousness… only that we cannot see or understand it. Together we created something beautiful.

Ani, of course, has no such qualms, simply tilts her head to one side and regards me through quizzical eyes. She will eat anything that seems right to her. She listens to her body and eats or refuses as it dictates. Including pizza. Maybe she has a point.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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45 Responses to Random musings on the pizza of consciousness

  1. Yum.

    I think my granddaughter didn’t make the connection between cows and milk until we went to the farm and she had a revelation. She thought it was born in a cardboard carton.

    Your pizza looks great and is making me hungry.


  2. Ritu says:

    I was horrified to read that food origins survey results sheet a few years ago and promptly went to my own two kids to quiz them on their knowledge. Lil Man, at 7, passed with flying colours! Lil Princess, at 4, was doing brilliantly until ” Where do sausages come from?”
    “The barbecue!” Was the reply I got!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pizza was the first thing I cooked for Hubby when I was living at my brother’s.
    They were away and I was fending for myself sotospeak, and there wasn’t very much in the cupboard, so I took some basics and literally threw them together. He was impressed (apparently).


  4. Pingback: Random musings on the pizza of consciousness | Green Life Blue Water

  5. Ken Dowell says:

    That is perhaps the most thought that ever went into making a pizza. Since I live in an area where there is at least one pizzeria on every block, I rarely make one. But when I do, my thoughts are more along the lines of “Is the oven hot enough?”


  6. Somewhat horrified that our kids do not know the source of their food. We visited the poultry farm, saw the butcher doing his beef cutting, took swigs of milk from the cow. It was all made available to us at an early age. And, I still eat chicken, beef, etc. But, so right about the living things we eat that do not scream. Very thoughtful post, Sue.


  7. fransiweinstein says:

    This is just one of those subjects you can think about and talk about and debate a million ways to Sunday. At least I do. And I go back and forth. There are many days I simply cannot swallow any protein that required the sacrificing of a life. But as you’ve said there is so much more to it than that. There is a new breed of chefs who are dedicated to using every scrap of the animal and Ibsee the reasoning behind it, but it doesn’t make the decision to eat meat any easier. One thing is certain, though. If we are going to breed animals for the sole purpose of providing food for ourselves we need to treat them a whole lot better than we do.


  8. pizza and philosophy – I’m in heaven


  9. You hit on many of the reasons why we’ve chosen to live the lifestyle we do, foraging, growing our own, and involving the children every step of the way. I like your analogy between pizza and your view of life, very apt! And because of that amazing photo, I’m now craving pizza desperately!


    • Sue Vincent says:

      Even on a small, city-bound scale, foraging was part of my upbringing and has served me well over the years. Here there are always blackberries, in season, if nothing else…and there were always buckets full of them to make into jam and pies. Learning about wild herbs and other wild foods was part of growing up…as was learning how to perpare and perserve. It is a dying art, I am afraid and I honour what you are doing for yourselves and your children.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sadly so. Most unfortunate that such a separation exists between some folks and the food they eat. Of course giy and foraging aren’t necessary to make sound choices but education is and that is lacking for many. All that said, I think there is a huge movement to get to know the source and value of what is consumed, stress not being on the bottom line but instead the good of the body and the planet. Seems like an uphill climb for most though.


  10. Eliza Waters says:

    I recently wrote an article about food consciousness similar to this for our Thanksgiving town newsletter (TG being the mother of all food consumption!). A connection to our food and its growers (if not ourselves), is an important one. Acknowledging our farmers connects us to the greater whole.
    And food waste makes me crazy – arrgh! It is said we waste 30-40% of our food – that is about 20#/pp/mo. It is rare that I throw food out and if I do, it goes into the garden compost. Over consumption (meaning buying more than we need as opposed to eating more than we need, which is to be noted as well) is epidemic. We need to bring back home economics classes into schools!


  11. TamrahJo says:

    EGGSACTLY!!!! 🙂 I swore I wouldn’t blog, until I had caught up with at least for a while, on what my community here has been doing – but this post on topic dear to my heart and I, too, walk in that world (and have a great, home-made pizza dough recipe that raises overnight with minimum ingredients, stirred and put in warm place – !) – – Updated my old post with link to the Amazon Prime offering/title of documentary that is newer and covers many of the items I learned, first documentary go around – 🙂 https://ballybin.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/vegan-whats-the-next-step/


  12. staceygreenside says:

    looks soooooo good!


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