The Chandogya texts of the Vedas contains an interesting dialogue between a teacher and a student. The teacher was explaining the connection between food and the subtle aspects of human life. The body excretes the grossest portions of the food and forms the cells such as our muscles, tissues and bones from the finer aspects. Modern science is in agreement with the teacher’s explanation up to this point. The subtlest aspects of food become the energy of the mind, intellect and memory. The student raised a question as to how food can be considered to be responsible for the mind which is only as abstraction.
The teacher asked him to go on a fast for fifteen days. The young student expressed his concern that he may die without food. The teacher asked him to drink water during the fifteen days and assured him that the water will keep him alive. The student returned back to the teacher in fifteen days having followed the instructions. The teacher asked him to recite mantras which the students had earlier committed to his memory. The student tried his best and admitted to his teacher that he could not remember the mantras. The teacher asked him to come back after breaking his fast and having eaten his food. The student was amazed at how well he was able to recollect all the mantras when he came back.
Vedic tradition laid a lot of important on the quality of food – where it was grown, how it was harvested and how it was cooked. Farmers sang simple melodies, especially while harvesting the grains. Honoring guests with food became a custom as selling food for money was discouraged because of the fear that the money concerns of a cook could travel to the others. The emotions of the cook could percolate into the subtlest aspect of the food. This is sort of the dictum of “Mother’s food is the tastiest”. Food industry of today which is driven by greed could not develop under the Vedic tradition.