What if…?

What if…?

What if where our food was grown, how it was prepared, who prepared it, and the intention that the person had as they were preparing it mattered as much as what we actually ate?  What if somehow love could provide nourishment in the way that we believe protein, carbohydrates, and sugar are able to do?  What if we understood that accidentally burning our meal was a sign of distraction and inattention to the food we eat and that by letting this distraction enter our lives we have lost some capacity of our food to give us the nourishment that we hope it will?  What if the intention with which our food is grown helps bring nutrition to it?

What if standing outside on a hot summer evening to water our garden helped make the strawberries, blueberries, kale, eggplant and beets that we can grow in our own backyard that much more full of nutrition?  What harm does it do to believe that the answer to any or all of these questions is that they are true?  Those of you that find these notions preposterous will challenge me to prove it.  So my challenge to those of you willing to entertain such possibilities and those that are not is to help me prove it.  Here is my challenge to all of us for 2013.

  1. Challenge yourself to learn to cook, understanding your cooking differently or more deeply, or understand the ingredients that you use to cook in a different way – use recipes, study the source of the food, how it is grown in general and specifically.
  2. Cook for others and do so lovingly.
  3. Grow something this year that you will eat.  Now is a great time to start thinking about what that will look like.  Will it be a planter, a pot in your home, a garden in back?  Does it require testing your soil for contaminants, or replacing the soil?  Does it require you to read a book from the library on cultivating that particular species?
  4. Find foods that are grown locally by people you might even get to know.
  5. Give yourself a weekly budget for food and find foods and recipes that fit within that budget from local sources.
  6. Find places you like to eat because you like being around the people that work and eat there.
  7. Try shopping at your local coop, exclusively or as much as possible – but stick to your weekly food budget!  If you’ve never shopped at a co-op this one might sound out there, but trust me these stores are shaped by people like you that shop there.  It literally is your store.
  8. Notice how you feel physically and mentally after different meals and eating in different locations and remember it – you may even begin to choose foods or locations based on anticipation of these outcomes of how you feel after the dining experience.
  9. Do this for a week, a month, or perhaps whole year as much as you like, as much as you can, as much as you will – and then let me know how you feel and what has or has not changed for you and your relationship to the food that you eat.

Yours in health,

Samuel Hanson Willis, MD

Family Medicine Physician

  1. Dan Becker said:

    Great stuff, Samuel! For 1 & 2, I’ve been really enjoying doing more “freestyle” cooking, using my senses and understanding how food cooks, rather than following recipes strictly. The ironically titled cookbook “How to cook without a book” has been very helpful here. If you are interested in getting more in tune with preparing food, check it out! http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0767902793

  2. Katie N said:

    Dr. Samuel,
    I recently read this post and felt very inspired to be more mindful about the way I consume. I am going to try this challenge.

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