Our food – part 2

walnuts

(read part 1 here)

introduction:
In these challenging times I find myself telling my son: choose with your Heart, your Heart knows what is right.
The Mind is a great tool, but the Heart comes first.
There are three things I do when feeling overwhelmed: Meditate. Be in Nature. Rest.
Just silent sitting is a very effective method to tackle tough stuff. Answers will arise. The next step will become obvious.
I bake my bread, ferment foods and drinks, sow seeds and tend to Life as well as I can.

Connecting with Nature through food

In herbalism there’s an interesting theory: plants that you need the most, will grow nearby you.

Another herbalist-theory is that local herbs are much more potent for healing a person than herbs imported from another habitat.

Nature organizes itself through an inherent intelligence.
We  humans are also a part of Nature, although we’re often dis-connected, because we’re so busy in our minds.

Since food is our best medicine, and working with soil (dig your bare hands into the soil!) evokes feel-good hormones, it’s logical to grow some of our own food – as much as you can!
If you don’t have a garden or an allotment, you can still grow some herbs in pots by your window.

More theory: talking or singing to plants makes them grow better.
This is true, because we live in a respiratory symbiosis with plants. We  humans breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide (CO2). Plants also have a circulation of gasses, and they ‘breathe’ in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen.
Have a little breathing session with your plants!

By incorporating the grow-your-own-food mentality into your life, you’re automatically connecting to the web of Life, even if it’s only one plant you’re tending to.
The more you pay attention, the more you’ll notice. About the soil and its inhabitants. About compost. About the elements – earth, air, fire (sunlight), water and about the natural rhythms of everything alive.
It is very calming, nourishing and enlightening. It puts things in Life into a healthier priority and perspective.

There is another aspect of growing your own food and eating locally produced food that I hadn’t expected.
I’ll weave it into a story:

At the community herbal garden where I’m volunteering, the garden design is based on a beautiful keyhole mandala.
At the center of the mandala grows a medlar tree. It is the first medlar I’ve consciously met in my life. Perhaps because it was a stranger to me, I found it a little bit difficult to relate to it. I didn’t get further than a general “it’s a tree with (somewhat) edible fruit, so it’s all-right”.

The volunteer whose brain-child the herbal garden is, had made medlar compote from the fruit, and had a jar of it for us all. At home, I tasted it, savoured the composition of fruit and spices, the texture, the warming feeling it gave. The energetic warmth and velvety smoothness, topped up with exotic spices made me decide that even if it was just for one jar of medlar compote per year, this was a tree I’d love to have in my garden – what an interesting personality to meet!

Gardening is on winter pause now, but one day early in January I went for a walk in the direction of the herbal garden, and decided to go and take a look at how the garden is doing at this moment. Letting my eyes glide over the bare, brown stems of herbs and the graphic contours of the plants, I was paying attention to the subtle colour palette of the garden when – my gaze met the medlar and there was an instant connection. Suddenly I could feel the inside of its trunk inside my ‘trunk’, my body!
Smiling, I thanked it for its delicious fruit, and a happy answer came, thanking me for paying attention.

The herbs that I collect and dry for herbal teas are also a personal allies.
Herbs will have their unique effects, no matter where they come from, but herbs/plants you personally know… will bring magic!
As I mix herbal teas in the autumn when the season of colds and flu’s is around the corner, I meet the plants again, they go through my hands and I thank them for their healing power.
The next season I see the familiar flowerheads nodding in the sun again, and I’m so sincerely and thoroughly happy to see them, and as I express my joy they seem to swell up a little bit with happiness as well.

If you quietly pay attention, plants that you mindfully connect with will gladly connect with you, and in addition to their healing qualities they are willing to share their wisdom – if we just listen.

medlar

 

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Our food

miniharvest

Sometimes I get on a thought-train that lasts for days.

It all started at Instagram, when I was commenting on a post by @earthcarekitchen.
She was inspiring us, the readers, to cook with what we already have in our kitchen, with the idea that limitations boost creativity (as they do). She also posed a question: what goes well with brown rice?

I’m (almost) always cooking with ‘what the kitchen holds at this moment’ and enjoyed the familiar setting. Sparked by the question, I commented by sharing my tried and tested culinary path of brown rice: in my opinion rustic stuff rhymes well with brown rice – eggs, spinach, nettles and…here it comes…bacon.
I hesitated as I was typing it. I hesitated as I was sending it. And I kept on thinking about it.

I used to be vegetarian – for a short while even vegan – until I got pregnant. Since then meat has been a fairly frequent ingredient on my plate, but for the last 1,5 years I’m having increasing difficulties in justifying my choice to myself.

“But I only buy biological meat.” is what my reasoning begins with, which is sort of fine for my physical body, but not for the animal.

I’m into homesteading, and was daydreaming about a time in the future when we’d raise our own animals in happiness and harmony, also for the meat (whoever thought Mother Nature is only hatching chicken and birthing female goats has to re-think their logic).
But then the reality-check struck: our three chicken ‘retired’, they stopped laying eggs.
Last spring I was determined to bring them to a kind butcher (?) in the next village.
I had my plan ready, only needed to check with the butcher and put the chicken in a transport box when…Martha, the oldest of them, looked me deep in the eyes and communicated: ” You filthy betraying human you! We’ve served you for years and now that we aren’t producing eggs anymore you want to end our lives!” I was surprised, shocked and ashamed. I instantly replied with my heartfelt apologies and promised (yes, promised) they’d have a sweet retirement and wouldn’t have to worry about me being dangerous to them ever again. Since then we’ve been good friends again.

So, back to the kitchen then. Milling over this ethical problem, I finally came to my present conclusion that the only way eating meat would be OK is if our bodies are signalling that we really need it, and we pray to the spirit of the family of a species (say, the Deer Spirit, or the Rabbit Spirit) and then go hunting and wait until an animal of that species presents itself as prey. And we then end its life skillfully, painlessly, quick and full of prayer and gratitude. But I’m not a forest-dwelling hunter-gatherer. The conclusion is therefore, for me, a philosophical one.

There’s still meat in our fridge. I’m still arguing with myself. But week by week, month by month, we’re eating meat less frequently, and vegetables take its place in abundance.

I guess everyone has to go through this thinking battle for themselves.
It is my personal conclusion that eating meat is not good for our energy bodies. Animals are our brothers and sisters, fellow beings on this beautiful planet – why would we eat them?? And every now and then I’m wondering if plants suffer when we harvest them for nourishment.
As long as we humans haven’t evolved to the level that we can live straight from sunlight and air, we need to eat (plants) and drink.
The plants are very kindly specialized in transforming sunlight, air, water and soil into nutrients that we animals – humans included – can digest and use to revitalize our bodies.

I suggest we start paying close attention to what’s on our plate, contemplating in gratitude every bite we chew and swallow… Your food is your medicine, it’s building and balancing (healing) your body.

What is your connection to your food – where does it come from? How natural is it? How nourishing is it? How do you express gratitude to it?

Just by taking a minute before cooking to connect with the needs of your family, then selecting the ingredients and preparing them mindfully is already a simple act of service and respect. My soul sister Kristiina recites this poem before her family begins their meal:

“Maasta versonnut on vilja tämä,
armaan aurinkoisen kypsyttämä.
Rakas aurinko ja rakas maa,
teitä emme tahdo unhoittaa.”

which is Finnish and translates roughly to

“This grain has sprouted from the ground,
ripened by the dear sun
beloved sun and beloved earth
we don’t want to forget you.”

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