Engaged cooking: What nourishes you? What do you nourish?
Apr 5, 2017
Linda Watson in active hope, chris johnstone, connected selves, cooking mindfully, engaged cooking, engaged cooking, joanna macy, make a difference

Engaged cooks prepare food with the wish for happiness, health, and safety for themselves and all beings. We want to help ourselves and others be peaceful and at ease. We may start with a very personal focus--just ourselves and loved ones--but then spread our good wishes out to acquaintances and strangers. A way to explore how food connects you is to ask yourself these questions:

Ask yourself each question five or ten times, until it's hard to come up with more responses. Consider writing down your answers to use for inspiration later. Or do this with a friend, with each of you taking a few minutes to speak. You might want to pause to explore your own answers before reading mine below.

What nourishes you? What do you nourish? Food, girl with butterfly face paint,friends at potluck, Monarch butterfly, Earth from space

Please know that my answers reflect a week of thinking about these questions during this particular time in my life. Although I try to make nourishing actions a priority, I buy more bakery-made chocolate chip cookies than I should and otherwise have room to learn and to improve. Becoming an engaged cook is a process of discovery and change, with the full force of the consumerism against it.

What nourishes me?

I am nourished by:

What do I nourish?

Cook to Connect

My inspiration for these questions came from Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're in without Going Crazy, by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone. Great title, isn't it? They encourage readers to see how many answers they have to two questions: Who am I? and What happens through me? As we answer these questions, we see ourselves as part of our families or groups, communities, human societies, and the web of life. (The authors don't mention the Big Bang, but I'd add that level of integration too. We are stardust.) Macy writes:

The distinction made between selfishness and altruism is therefore misleading. It is based on a split between the self and other, presenting a choice of helping ourselves (selfishness) and helping others (altruism). When we consider the connected self, we recognize this choice as nonsense. It is from our connected selves that much of what people most value in life emerges, including love, friendship, loyalty, trust, relationship, belonging, purpose, gratitude, spirituality, mutual aid, and meaning.

Understanding this, we see that cooking is an opportunity to nourish and be nourished by our connected selves. Wonderfully, personally actions naturally spread good intentions into the wider world. You may serve your growing child organic greens to build strong bones and protect their eyes and brains. By choosing organic food, you've also helped protect Monarch butterflies and the farmers who grow your food. If you bought local greens, you've strengthened your local foodshed and kept money in your community, which will help support schools and libraries for your child.

The next time you shop or cook, ask yourself again: What nourishes me? What do I nourish? Let a sense of connection energize you. Your actions make a difference, for better or worse. Engaged cooking helps bring the difference you make in line with your goals.

What answers do you have to these questions? Did anything surprise you? Have you ever thought of cooking in this way before? Please share in the comments below.

Additional photo credits: Monarch butterfly by Richiebits. Face Painting at South Estes Farmers' Market in Chapel Hill, NC by FarmersofOrange. Earth from space by the U.S. government (crew of Apollo 8, probably Bill Anders. All public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Article originally appeared on Cook for Good, home of Wildly Affordable Organic and Fifty Weeks of Green (http://cookforgood.com/).
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