By Danielle Leigh

As a practitioner of the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition, I have learned that one of the reasons people are drawn to become mesa carriers is a great love for the environment. This includes everything that nurtures Pachamama, and everything that Pachamama nurtures all of her creatures with. On the physical level, the main thing that nurtures life on Pachamama is food. As we are nurtured, we can practice llankay – putting our beliefs into right action – by taking care of what we are given and giving back however we can.

There is a wonderful movement taking place the world over to reduce food waste. There are so many reasons that this is important, when we think about the amount of energy that goes into the planting, growing, harvesting and packaging of food. And in the end, as a world community, a large percentage of this food goes to waste.

I am the founder of a food recovery project in Canmore, called the Canmore Food Recovery Barn. It is an integral part of our project and mission to hold the sanctity of food in the foreground of our work. When it comes to the governance of food, two key factors come into play. These factors are Food Security and Food Sovereignty. The latter has been more of our focus, although Food Security is also a nice side effect of any food recovery program. According to Food Secure Canada, “Food Sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.”

We must move toward a sustainable way of producing our food which honors Pachamama and protects the web of life on Earth – all plants, the land, animals, humans, air and water. In service to this goal, I offer here the following key tenets of our mission:

Protecting and Healing the Web of Life in Food Production

Food production is a strong and significant force upon Pachamama and affects the delicate balance of all living things. One quarter of our world’s lands are being utilized for grazing and farming. This, by nature of the business, leads to loss of natural land and deforestation. If we are to work at regaining true balance, we must strive to produce our food in ways which take into consideration our future generations. If we can learn to use methods which restore health to our land, water, and air, we will be taking healing steps toward true sustainability.

Everyone Deserves Equal Opportunity to Eat Well

No one should go hungry at the end of any given day. Everyone should have access to healthy and nutritious, affordable, and culturally customary food. It is for each of us to do our part to ensure the global community works toward ending hunger.

Food is Sacred with Aspects of Spirituality

All world traditions hold food as an element in spiritual celebration and cultural gatherings. When we eat, we consciously recognize the sanctity of eating. Preparing and sharing in food is a sacred spiritual practice. At its core, it is a reverent and delicate communion of plants, animals, humans and the elements of Pachamama which make it all possible. It is with gratitude that we can dedicate ourselves time and again to maintaining this sanctity of relationship and sacred reciprocity (Ayni).

Holding Integrity and the Protection of Diversity

Our methods of food production should honour the diversity and integrity of all of the life inhabiting our world. We can make choices that allow us to take steps toward preventing extinctions of plants and animals. This can start in the home, with getting back to basics and taking care of plants which produce seeds that can be saved. Composting – wherever possible – is another great way to ensure the health and diversity of what we grow for food.

Consciously taking steps to improve our human relationship to food and how we plant, produce and harvest it is a wonderful foundation for establishing a stronger connection to the subtle workings of Pachamama. When we come to a deeper understanding of her rhythms and the overall state of her health, we come to a deeper understanding of personal health and collective human health. Just as it takes time for imbalance and illness to occur, it takes time to restore health and vitality. Every day, each one of us can make a difference – no step is too small.

There are some things in the world we can’t change – gravity, entropy, the speed of light, and our biological nature that requires clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean energy and biodiversity for our health and well-being. Protecting the biosphere should be our highest priority or else we sicken and die. Other things, like capitalism, free enterprise, the economy, currency, the market, are not forces of nature, we invented them. They are not immutable, and we can change them. It makes no sense to elevate economics above the biosphere. ~ David Suzuki