Movement One: Food
One of my earliest memories is of picking beans in my mothers garden and eating them right off the bush, the crisp delicious snap of good food literally at my fingertips. My mother didn’t keep a garden every year of my childhood, but when she did I loved to eat right out of the garden. As an adult, keeping a garden is a spiritual practice for me, a way to stay connected to the rhythm of soil and sun and food. But I’ve learned that just growing the food isn’t the main event … it’s what you do with the food you have.
It all begins in the kitchen! Whether you have a big homestead with lots of local food or you live in a tiny apartment in the city, the kitchen is the nexus of some of the most important life decisions you can make for yourself and for the planet. How and what you eat is one the largest contributors to your overall resource footprint, and there are many factors to consider. How was the food you eat grown? What chemicals were used in its cultivation? If you eat meat, how were the animals treated? How far did the food travel to reach you? And how were the people in your food chain treated? Did they earn a decent wage?
With all of these questions in mind, building a sustainable and resilient life can begin with what you eat and how you prepare it. So our first movement will begin here, examining our relationship to food and cooking.
One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. – Virginia Wolf
People who love to eat are always the best people. – Julia Child
All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. – Charles M Schulz
Let food by thy medicine and medicine by thy food. – Hippocrates
There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread. –Mahatma Gandhi
Hunger is not a problem. It is an obscenity. How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. –Anne Frank
Exercise One: A Recipe for Healthy Eating
Many of us have an unhealthy relationship with food, shaped by our society and diet culture. Here is a recipe for a spell or spiritual exercise to try and heal some of that relationship.
Take a container with a lid that can sit on your altar or in another special place while it “cooks”, and some slips of paper or small stones or other objects to represent the following:
- Good food
- Fun Movements and Exercise
- Enough Sleep
- Love and body acceptance
You can proportion this how you like. For instance, it might feel good to give yourself a big helping of Love and just a small dash of self-discipline. Make one a big slip of paper and the other a small one. You can also add more ingredients that make sense to you.
Close your container and set it somewhere safe to “cook”. You can return to it to stir the contents as needed. When you do, ask yourself how these ingredients are alive and moving in your life. As much as possible, allow the recipe to guide you in your living.
Exercise Two: Grace Before Each Meal
I wasn’t raised with the practice of grace, so I was always a little bit flustered if someone said grace or silently prayed before a meal. However, the essence of this practice is to remind us that the food we are about to receive, or eat, is a blessing to be grateful for. That’s a reminder I think we could all use more of.
For a week, give yourself the challenge to say grace before each meal you eat. It doesn’t have to be fancy, you could just pause for a heart felt Thank You, but try pausing to express your gratitude for this gift.
After a week, how did it feel? Did it help reshape your relationship to food? How?
Exercise Three: Meatless Mondays (or More!)
The consumption of meat contributes to many environmental ills, and a vegetarian diet is one way to make your lifestyle more sustainable. However, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, and many omnivores find satisfaction from simply abstaining from meat one or more days a week. So unless you are already vegetarian, give it a try. Set aside one day a week to eat meatless. Find some new veggie-centered recipes to enjoy!
Exercise Four: Eat Local and In Season
Eating food that was grown locally and is in season right now is a great way to become more connected with local farmers and build a more resilient local community. The food will have a smaller climate footprint because it didn’t travel as far, you can know more about how it was cultivated, and as an extra bonus it often tastes better than processed and shipped food does. So seek out your farmer’s markets or join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) at a local farm. What is currently being offered up by local farmers will be what is in season where you live. Eat and enjoy!
Exercise Five: Host a Soup Swap
Soup is an incredibly flexible food, allowing you to take a little and stretch it into a lot, often just by adding more water. It’s also a great food for storage, doing well in the freezer and reheating easily. And there are so many different soups!
To enjoy soup in all its variety, host a community soup swap. All you need are some friends who are willing to cook soup and a time to get together to swap soups. Everyone makes a big pot of soup, and then portions it out into swappable size containers. I do this by making a big pot of soup and then using mason jars to store it.
For a simple swap, just trade jars with your friends. For a more fun swap, host a party and eat soup then send everyone home with soup jars.
Exercise Six: CookBook Club
And finally, for a fun way to build community around food, host a cookbook club night. Pick one cookbook and everyone cooks a dish from that book, then brings them for a potluck dinner. This can be a fun way to explore a new cookbook!
Resources for Food Resiliency and Sustainability
Slow Food International www.slowfood.com
Feeding 9 Billion People, https://youtu.be/raSHAqV8K9c
Food Security in an Insecure World: https://youtu.be/8jvRB8U8vEw
The Diet that Helps Fight Climate Change: https://youtu.be/nUnJQWO4YJY
Why Do We Need to Change Our Food System? https://youtu.be/VcL3BQeteCc
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Cooked by Michael Pollan
Blessing the Hands That Feed Us by Vicki Robin
And too many wonderful cookbooks to list them all!
- If you are what you eat, what do you primarily put inside your body? Are you happy with your diet? What needs to change?
- What is your relationship with food? Is it a healthy relationship? Where could you use some healing in your relationship to food?
- What special memories of food do you have? What are your food stories and family food ways? What did your family teach you about food?
- What seasonal treat do you look forward to all year long? How is eating seasonally a satisfying practice in your life?
- What change could you make to your diet to be more sustainable? How are you working toward that change?
- Is food a human right? Imagine a world where no one was food insecure or hungry. How could that happen?
Next: Movement Two