Respect What We Eat

Erasmo Calzadilla

Photo: Caridad
Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — If I were to tell you — my friend — that we Cubans are pigs and chickens, would you be offended and get upset? You probably would.

Or maybe not. You might think “chicken” is a fitting adjective for those who’ve endured a half century without raising their voices, and the term “swinish” could come in handy when describing the hygiene of our cities.

But no…that’s not my idea. Instead, I contend that we’re pigs and chickens because these animals are our primary sources of protein, and as the saying goes: “You are what you eat.”

We should build them an altar or at least treat them with deference for helping us withstand the gale, and yet…

Not only protein

We’re humans in the end, and the foods we eat are loaded with spiritual values that are incorporated into us bite by bite.

What’s curious and sad is our tendency to associate the most common animals in our diets with such negative qualities as cowardice and filthiness.

In a few other regions of the world, communities that are better integrated into their natural environments respect and even revere the beings that nourish them. Some even consider the consumption of these to give them courage, intelligence, wisdom and other spiritual qualities.

We, though, act like arrogant predators sitting at the top of the evolutionary chain. Consequently — almost like punishment for spitting down on others — we end up putting into our mouths those same beings whose dignity we previously tainted, animals loaded with negative values, spiritual carrion.

Our hemoglobin levels can rise, but our souls will end up malnourished on such diets, and our morals for fighting injustice will become weakened.

But I have faith in human betterment. One day there will be another magnanimous epoch in Cuba, where instead of ferocious lions and symbols of a violent and bloody power, we’ll find bronzed broody hens and sows giving birth appearing on pedestals.