The Magic Ingredient
(excerpted from Slow Food for the Cheap and Lazy: Eating well for the time & cost conscious, work-in-progress)
Any way you look at it, life as we know it is a miracle. Cooking food is a nurturing act. When we cook to feed someone (including ourselves), we’re providing a cornerstone of life, ensuring that someone can live another day — preferably in the best of health. Through food, we support the miracle of life; we keep the candle burning.
There is a miracle ingredient to food. Unfortunately, it’s an optional ingredient. We can sustain life without it, but the question is how much that miracle ingredient in our food can improve the quality of our life. The miracle ingredient in our food is love. Love, in its most pure, unadulterated, raw, non-GMO form, is as necessary on a daily basis as water, vitamin C or protein. When you add love to your food, it honestly will taste better. You don’t have to think about it. You just have to consider the act of preparing food as an act of love, and allow the love to unburden the act of cooking.
When we run out to eat, to grab a bite, to drive to a fast-food place, sometimes we lose focus on the love ingredient missing in our food. The more carelessly the food is thrown together, the more neglectfully the ingredients are chosen, the less nurturing the food is. When you go to a good restaurant with a chef who cares, who picks out the best produce and meats, the food is naturally healthier. When you go to a fast food restaurant where the preparers are underpaid, the food frozen and shipped thousands of miles and stored in freezers and warehouses, the quality shows in the lack of love in the food.
However, this can be remedied. When you shop with respect to your money as well as the quality of the items you put into your cart, you’re showing love to your family. When you pass by something you know will harm your family, and pick something fresh and amazing that you know they’ll enjoy just as much, you feel better about your food, better about yourself, and better about your relationship with those you are feeding.
It’s also getting easier and easier to get close to the source of our food. We can shop at a farmer’s market and look our farmer in the eyes and thank them for a job that is generally taken for granted. We can eat fruits picked this morning, and be eating our lettuce for 2 weeks before it gets to the age it would have been had we gotten it from the supermarket.
And we can go another step further and grow our food (or at least some of our food) ourselves. From a windowsill full of fresh basil to a yard teeming with tomatoes and squash — you can talk and sing to your plants and give love before the harvest. It doesn’t get any better than that. Gardening can become a family affair, getting everyone off the couch, out from behind a screen, and out into the sun for some loving vitamin D, talking and working together. Children eat more vegetables when they participate in planning out the harvest and growing them.
Healing your relationship with yourself and your food is an important part of loving yourself and others.
Criss is the “Ninja-SwissArmyKnife” techie and marketer on the Farm-A-Yard project. A trained wildcrafting herbalist, she loves cooking and watching cooking competitions. She also teaches about raising chickens, making herbal remedies, and so much more.
Originally published at farm-a-yard.com on March 12, 2017.