Is it possible that food is only to be viewed as a means to an end?
We need to eat to survive; end of story. Or is it?
There was a time in days gone by when we were more in contact with what went on with the food we ate before it reached our mouths. The old ways meant being wise and resourceful when it came to food because this was the difference between seeing it through the Winter or not, for food or a lack of it, was a matter of life or death. We could be found to be actively involved in gathering and foraging in the hedgerows and fields. We would toil the land and tend to livestock. We were governed and guided by the seasons. We were part of something much greater than ourselves and we took nothing for granted. We were aware, conscious even, of the importance of everything that was brought to the table and of our being involved with it.
Now, we live in different times but, if you choose it and with a little effort, you can connect with an old way of being more conscious when you prepare, cook and bring your food to the table.
1.Get Back to Basics
To cook consciously means putting yourself in charge of choosing the optimum ingredients that make up what you eat. You decide that only the best will do and settling for second best or a pre-prepared option that you weren't involved with, just won't do. You choose to get back to preparing your food from scratch and this choice ensures you will be fully conscious through this process of nurturing, by being on board from the very start, to the incr'edible' finish.
2. Where does your produce come from?
There is only one optimum answer here, your own back garden. Zero miles, zero carriage, zero loss of nutrition. The optimum journey for your food is from the ground to your kitchen and subsequently your body in minutes. The next best option is to seek a locally grown source. This may take a little time and effort to find your nearest farm shop or grocer. Find a place that still smells of fruit and veg and is perhaps a bit chilly. Find a place where you can touch the produce, see it close up and even smell it! Find a place where you can choose what you want and put it in the bag. Be engaged and ask questions of your fruit and veg. Has this produce travelled from Europe? Is there an English equivalent that will serve equally aswell? Being conscious means being bothered.
3. Get to know your fruit and vegetables, from their names to what they provide in terms of nutrition.
Nutrition is about how what you consume enhances your physical body.
To be conscious means connecting on a deeper level with your ingredients. You do this by finding out more about the nutritional value that is being brought to not only your table but in to your physical body. You find out more about the why and how and wonder of the produce. Take time to visually enjoy the shapes and colours of your fruit and vegetables. Find, within you, a deep appreciation for what you hold in your hand. Revel in the vibrant orange of an orange cleverly protected by its smooth and yet tough skin, filled with its juicy, gorgeous goodness that is vitamin C, so good for the immune system. Languish in the deep luscious green that is spinach, full of folic acid and vitamin C again vital for so many systems in the body. As you prepare the food see it in your mind's eye, in its natural state. Visualise how it grows in the ground and draws its nutrients from the good earth. Give thanks for the constituents of vital vitamins and essential minerals, that will be utilised by your body. Be gratefully conscious. Affirm to yourself that through knowing, understanding and connecting with these key constituents you boost your immune system and nurture your well-being. Vegetables have so much health to give to us if we would only let them.
4. Take pleasure in the prep.
Too often we look for the easy way out or the easy option when it comes to preparing our food. It's called convenience. We don't have the time (no really, I don't have the time!) or the inclination to peel spuds or chop carrots. The real message you send yourself and anyone who partakes in the food you opt out of preparing is actually this, you don't have the time or the inclination to nurture yourself or them for that matter. What you are actually opting for is to dis-connect with food because there are more important things to be doing. If you want to cook consciously it is time to review your priorities. There is real pleasure to be taken in the preparation of your food and that pleasure is part of the process that helps to keep you conscious. You let the joy of knowing you are fuelling and nurturing yourself and the people you love, flow from your heart and spill into the chopping and peeling. The food you prepare becomes a beautiful expression and limitless extension of your love.
5. Sit down to eat, share, take time with and taste your food.
Eating is an exquisite pleasure. There is a multitude of tastes and flavours that we as human beings are so privileged to be able to experience. To keep that conscious connection to the incr'edible' end means that when the food is ready to be eaten you remain in that place of deep appreciation. You take the time to let your senses be flooded by the smells, tastes and textures in your mouth. Let yourself be so moved you cannot help but comment on the sweetness of those Brussel sprouts or the vibrancy of the garlic. Share your pleasure by teaching your friends or your kids that its ok to express the gorgeousness that is exploding on your taste buds, by expressing it yourself. Remember that through consuming your glorious vegetables you are consuming the exquisite energy of nature. There is only gorgeous good happening in your mouth and how can you feel guilty about that!