The Sacred Nature of Consumption

And how we’ve lost our connection to it

Jonas Ellison


We took our daughter Rory fishing the other day for her birthday. She turned 7 and is quite a nature enthusiast. There’s a stocked pond that’s close to us full of trout where you pay by the catch. She caught two big ones yesterday — a 16" and an 18" (with a little help from her parents who have never in their recollection caught a fish before).

Since her grandma (my mother-in-law) runs a restaurant here in town, we took the fish over so she could grill them up for us for dinner (the pond people clean the fish and put them on ice for you — yes, this is the ‘glamping’ version of fishing).

When grandma was doing a re-cleaning and beheading of the fish, Rory was watching intensely. When grandma’s knife severed the throat, Rory grabbed the head of the fish. She held it firmly. Then she started poking the eyeball. Not in a silly way, but in a serious, reflective way. A forlorn expression washed over her face.

It had hit her that she’d truly taken the fish’s life. Even though Alex and I talked with her about it beforehand(at length, due to her 6-year-old inquiring mind) and made sure that she was ‘okay’ doing this, she was affected by it. It was personal.

We talked about how living things have been eating other living things since the beginning of existence. We talked about how, though the fish dies a real death, when we eat them, the fish lives on in us (I’m trying here, okay!).

As we discussed it, I realized how sacred eating living things is. And she did too. But back to the restaurant beheading scene…

So, Rory was having a moment. She didn’t want to let the fish head go into the uncaring depths of the trash can. But it wasn’t dinner time yet and we had to go walk the dog and do some things before. As far as we knew, when we left, grandma threw the heads into the waste bin. Rory was a bit dreary when we left but she slowly started to perk up again.

When we went back to the restaurant to eat our catch, she was fine. The fish, prepped by grandma and filleted out for us to eat, looked amazing. And it tasted even better.

I’ve never eaten anything that I’d seen living earlier that day. As fresh as it gets. It…



Jonas Ellison

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