Inspired by a 3rd grade student who raises an important philosophical question when she asks, “Do whole grains have souls?”
Throughout history ancient cultures have regarded grains as a sacred food, like medicine for the soul, it symbolized the essence of their spirituality that meant more than just sustenance. Grains played a significant role in shaping and influencing daily culinary, ritual, and spiritual practices.
Ancient grains tell stories about past civilizations that offer insights into their traditions and cultural values that were important to their life. Quinoa, the legendary grain of the Incas, was known to sustain the body with endurance and to increase deeper spiritual powers through meditation, and with respect, honored as the “mother grain.” Aztecs highly valued amaranth as “the food of the gods,” and for its supernatural health properties that was central to their spiritual rituals. In the Hindu culture, grains played a role in important rite of passage ceremonies beginning with the ritual of baby’s first solid food, or spiritual food called the “feeding of the grains;” as well as, in weddings and in after life– funerals.
With appreciation for the deeper meaning of ancient grains that was once held sacred, and kept close at heart, I am mindful of my student, and her profound sense of curiosity to express a question the great philosopher, Socrates might ask– Do whole grains have a soul?