On a photo excursion in the Sri Lankan countryside, I came upon this woodsman’s home in the middle of a small cinnamon holding. Cinnamon is cultivated over nearly all of the island and grows as a small tree or shrub. The trunk is cut down and the outer bark rubbed away. Then men like this one carefully slit and remove the inner bark in long curling strips. After it’s dried, it is processed into the powder or sticks that we use. The remaining wood is used for for firewood, fencing, etc. From a tree growing by the path, we’ll sometimes pluck a leaf and chew the stem for a refreshing cinnamon taste.
The next time you are baking with cinnamon, think about these fellows for a moment. Too seldom do we contemplate how our food is grown and gathered for us. At Buddhist retreats, during the one meal each day, we are instructed to hold each forkful of food for a moment and call to mind all the lives of all the hands that have touched it on its way to us.