Eat Your Values
Heather Thomas takes you on a journey that explores food through the lenses of cultural anthropology, climatology and eco-psychology to explore how society collectively values food.
The Mindful Kitchen

Knowledge tags
International Politics
Environmental Justice
Exercise tags
Shared Learning
Course Description
When you stop and think about, one of the most conscious acts you do everyday that connects you to entire natural world, is eating. Each morsel of food is brought to you by a complex collaborative system of people, animals, plants, wind, water, sunlight, soil and billions of micro-organisms that scientists have only begun to understand. Framed that way, it is perhaps no surprise that our food system has a greater impact on climate change than the entire global transport system. What that means for the average person, is what you eat accounts for more than a quarter of your carbon footprint. Eat Your Values takes you on a journey to develop your awareness of how the choices that you make about the food you eat, are also expressions of how you value yourself as a part of nature. As we explore how the food system impacts (and is impacted by) climate change, we will also explore how the food choices that you make can be moments of activism. Yet, we all know that making change personally and contributing to change in society is not something that happens overnight. That is why in Eat Your Values we will be exploring change through the lenses of eco psychology and cultural anthropology and learning skills that support your mental wellbeing and the development of new foodie rituals (recipes included!) that help to develop new habits. “You are what you eat” will take on much richer meaning than you have ever considered before!

Unit 1 Introduction to How to Eat Your Values
We live in a geological era that archaeologists and anthropologists have defined as the Anthropocene, a time in which all aspects of natural life have been impacted by one species, the homo sapiens. Given that, it is understandable why culturally, collectively, we tend to consider the human world as something separate from nature. In the introduction to our course, you will explore how all of human life is dependent upon that natural world, we will discuss how the food we eat is produced by all aspects of nature and we will begin to set the scene for how to relate the content of this course to your life as you define your values so you can Eat Your Values. The syllabus is where you can find additional materials that expand on the topics covered in the video lecture. In this unit, the focus is on the Anthropocene and our cultural view of the natural world.
Unit 2 Food and Climate Change
Eating sustainably is something many of us aspire to do. But, what exactly does sustainable mean in the context of food? In this session, you will explore how the conventional agricultural has played a role in the creation of climate change and why local, seasonal, organic and zero waste diets that emphasize plant based foods make a difference. You will be exploring the greenhouse gas, natural resource and biodiversity impact of the food that you eat so you can make decisions about your diet and if it is a reflection of your values. Understanding why change is important is a bedrock for making personal change and influencing others. In this session, we aim not only to amplify your knowledge, but through the exercises, help you develop your own stories so you can share your knowledge with impact. Head to the syllabus for more on the topics covered in the video lecture for this unit, such as food and climate change and the true cost of avocado.
Unit 3 Food and Nature Relatedness
In this unit, you will be exploring the eco-psychological study of nature relatedness, which examines how humans identify as nature and how our identity is expressed through both our intrinsic and extrinsic values. You will learn how identity is dynamic and therefore why nature relatedness is being positioned as a process and a practice that can support emotional and mental wellbeing (and is therefore being embraced by national health services worldwide) as well as a tool for shifting cultural behaviours in a more eco friendly direction. You will learn how to practice nature relatedness through food and, in particular, you will learn a mindfulness practice called beginner’s mind. Hungry for more? When you finish watching the video lecture, check out the syllabus for some recommended readings on the connection between nature relatedness and mental wellbeing.
Unit 4 Food and Developing New Habits
How do you put what we have learned about climate change, nature relatedness, and developing new habits into practice so that you can Eat Your Values with ease? You will deep dive into two areas that are frequently targeted for behavior change: eating less meat and wasting less food. You will explore why those two issues have risen to the fore in sustainability and then practice new habit development practices that can be adapted to all areas of your life. For more on food waste, its relation to climate change and how to combat it through forming sustainable habits, head to the syllabus.
Unit 5 Food and Culture
Food rituals are a core part of all human cultures and many of the rituals that we practice today are rooted in ancient practices from times when humans read the language of nature with ease. In this session, you will learn why cultural anthropologists study rituals and look at what human food rituals were before the age of industrialised agriculture. You will look at how some of the proposed sustainable solutions to our unsustainable food system are rooted in history before exploring how weaving seasonal food rituals into your life can help to reinforce eating your values individually AND communally. For more on food cultures around the world, check out the syllabus.