02 June, 2013

thought for food. part 2

Clearly, many people are struggling to navigate the world of healthy eating trends, trying to figure out how to feed their bodies and souls, confused by all the options. Here is my favorite thing I've read about it: "the terrible tragedy of the healthy eater" - it's hilarious! And talk of the microbiome is going mainstream, thanks to the New York Times and Michael Pollan. But eating well is about more than just what we eat, it's also about how we eat, so that's what I want to talk about in part 2.

Fortunately, this is much more straight forward, and it basically boils down to taking the time to appreciate your food. Ideally, we would do this through every step of the process - from purchasing whole ingredients or actually growing them, to preparing a meal from scratch, to eating it mindfully. Usually when I hear people talk about these ideas, it conjures up this image of some do-it-all woman making her own homemade sunscreen, with a chicken coop in her backyard, friend of all the farmers at the weekend morning market, cooking 3 meals a day for her family and baking her own bread each weekend. She probably has an awesome blog with 100s of followers, too. It's beautiful, terribly impractical, and probably nonexistent.

Fortunately, you don't have to treck out to a farm or become a gardener or a gourmet chef. Food appreciation can fit into your everyday life. Even simple weekday meals  can be eaten mindfully. When we know a bit about where our food comes from or have taken the time to pick out the nicest bunch of radishes at the supermarket, it's easier to relish it a bit more. When we take the time to cut and wash those radishes, we begin to think about how nice it will be to eat them. When we eat more slowly, without music or television as a distraction, we enjoy it more and we eat less.

To me, sharing food and recipes is a big part of this as well. I think the most wonderful thing about this bubble of food blogs is that it encourages just that. Similar to church women's leagues creating cookbooks, I often feel like I have a community of like-minded people writing about their love for food. It's a community that has introduced me to all kinds of new ingredients, like spelt flour, chia seeds, and ramps. I also think cooking for others is a very powerful thing. It fulfills a desire to nurture and to give in the most fundamental way. It also exposes people to things they might not try otherwise, like quinoa (really, some people don't know about quinoa yet!) or simply a vegetarian meal. In fact, it's one of my favorite things to do, and I wish I did it far more often.

I recently read a summary of the characteristics of a group of Greeks who tend to live much longer than most people. A few of the "10 ways to live to be 100" are: take naps, stop worrying about being late, grow a garden and eat from it, 'get it on', walk daily, be part of a spiritual community, and surround yourself with people who do the same. Even if you won't live to be 100, don't those sound like ways to have a happier life in general? Taking the time to enjoy your food is the same. It's good for you, and you will enjoy it. Win-win.

Of course, this is all easier said than done. But it's definitely worth striving for.

1 comment:

  1. This is really nice, Lisa. One way I've been trying to eat more mindfully lately is by finding out more about the food I eat. For instance, I've started drinking only grass-fed milk from a nearby dairy that, I learned, treats their cows in a way I'm comfortable with. It's amazing what a difference it can make in the experience I have to just know those little details I didn't know before--that the milk is from a dairy near me, that the cows ate grass instead of corn, and that the cows are treated well. I feel more connected to my local community and to the wider ecosystem, and I feel good about the food I eat.

    A slew of experiences like this have led me to start thinking that our practices surrounding food are rich and by many people untapped resources for making our lives more meaningful and for deepening and enriching our relationships with one another and the land and animals we depend on for our food. This is exciting stuff!


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