This is a process I enjoy a lot! Thank Heavens! Right?...because, it is what I have chosen to do to make a living.
I find great joy in scouring my books and web sources for recipes. I read and learn how to do the same dish 10 different ways, as I compare multiple recipes. Finally, I make up my own out of the 10 options, combining what I liked from each and disregarding what I did not.
Going to the store or farmer's market and taking the time to pick the best ingredients, such as the juiciest lemon or the freshest piece of fish, is such a fulfilling tactile experience for me. From week to week, I see the differences in what is offered and I notice how the weather or growing location makes what comes to the market different each week. For instance, are the Texas peaches large or small? Did it rain or freeze too often? How many will I get to eat due to these conditions? What is the best way to use them according to their size and suppleness?
When I get the food back to the kitchen and start cutting and cooking these foods, I see the color variations, smell the potency, and feel the freshness through touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing! In a sense the food tells me what it wants me to do with it.
Food is beauty to me. Eating is a creative process that connects me to my environment (friends and family included in this), and my body, and makes me think about the big picture regarding these two things. According to a must-read article in this month's National Geographic magazine on the future of food, in the next 45 years we will have to double our food production in this world in order to feed 9 billion people. This means we will be forced to connect to our food more. We will have to take a very different approach than what we are currently doing to make this feasible.
With that in mind, thinking about how what I choose to eat affects my body, and how the environment affects my food choices, and vise versa, is important for us all to do? This is a big concept with lots of various angles to look at when discussing food. Ultimately, what I have found is the more that we connect to our food, the more we connect to our body, and thus the more we can connect to our environment.
So, in a world where we are rushing, scarfing food down quickly, and moving on to the next event, what do you do to connect to your food? Do you even think it is important to connect to your food? I am curious to know what you do? Please send me a reply with your answers.
Would you like to play with the practice of connecting more with your food? Well, I have compiled a list of awareness-invoking activities to help you do so. Doing these awareness exercises may help you to also connect to your body and feel the effects food has on it. Maybe you will notice how your physical environment determines your eating habits? See if manipulating your environment changes how and what you eat. Remember, you don't have to be a gourmet chef to connect to your food. Here are some easy ways to do so even if you don't cook.
Eat one meal or more a day with no distractions. Do nothing else while eating. Do not walk, read, text, listen to music, talk about the day, or zone out! Pay attention to your food and how it affects all your senses. Listen to the sound of your breath and feel the food in your mouth as you eat.
Make the same dish once a week for 6 weeks and notice how it may be different each time you make it. The weather could affect the cooking process or maybe your mood contributes to the way it turns out. We can learn more about cooking and ourselves by making the same dish over and over, than by making a different dish every day.
Pick a few vegetables that are in season and buy one of each from the super market and the farmer's market to compare them! Feel them, cut them up, smell, them, taste them raw, and make something out of them. Notice what you like about one or the other and think about why. Does the one from the farmer's market have more flavors? What are the color variations? Do you prefer the uniformity of the super market vegetable or the irregularity of the farmer's market one? Did you talk to the farmer or the grocer? How connected where they to the produce? Think about why and how the different sources affect your health and the environment.
Take notice of the conversations you have in your head about eating. Do you scorn yourself for eating certain foods? Do you praise yourself for eating others? Does eating frustrate you or do you enjoy it? We are constantly talking to ourselves about food and our choices. What we say to ourselves can affect how that food makes us feel. Learn to have positive conversations about food by changing the way you talk to yourself about it. Just creating awareness around it is a good place to start.
Write down everything you put into your mouth for 3 days.We sometimes go through the day with no awareness about what we are eating. We may think we ate a little when we really ate a lot. By writing down each thing that crosses our lips we can learn about our habits. We discover how we eat consciously and how we eat without awareness. We also learn a lot about the way we talk to ourselves about our choices. I also suggest that you write down your mood and emotions as the day passes to see how it correlates with your eating habits. Beware; this exercise can change the way you eat!
Hopefully, taking the time to do a few of these things will give you some perspective. Understanding how you connect to your food empowers you to make conscious decisions that can change your health, and your environment.