Thursday, August 16, 2012

Conscious Eating

I read a lot in the summer, lazing in my courtyard. This year there are three books in particular that have helped me to shift my food perspective. The books are Food Matters; Women, Food, and God; and Beyond the Ego. The first two deal directly with people’s attitudes toward food and the third is more of a life perspective. I am applying all three to my perspective on food.

Food Matters (Simon & Schuster, 2009) by Mark Bittman has a plan for conscious and responsible eating that saves money, improves health, and reduces environmental impact. It also includes 75 recipes. In Women, Food, and God (Scribner, 2010) author Geneen Roth highlights her experiences leading life changing retreats that help people make the link between compulsive eating and Spirituality. Beyond the Ego (Balboa Press, 2012) by Michigan author David Mutchler is a road map toward quieting our ego consciousness and living in Spirit consciousness. It outlines the perspective, plan, and path to Spirit.

It was the delicious combination of these books that lead me one morning to quiet the buzz in my head and pay attention to what was going on around me as I walked around my neighborhood. I noticed the traffic and the birds singing. I noticed that the city smells like car exhaust at that time of the day. This lead me to wonder how it would be to fully experience my meals.

The first meal that I looked at from this perspective was left over wood-fired pizza – a favorite of mine. It tasted great the evening before with a glass of wine. But at dinner, while I was paying attention, all that I tasted was salt. And, lots of it. Hmmmm… is this what I want to eat?

On another day I went to Brewery Vivant to fully taste their appropriately named Contemplation Ale. Amber in color, it includes Michigan honey and Michigan hops. The taste was honey forward and hoppy bitter in the middle with a tobacco aftertaste. It had a hoppy citrus scent.

I then decided to experiment with a couple of other meals. I ate slowly and paid attention to the messages from my mouth to my brain much like I do when I go to a wine tasting. Below are my experiences.

-          Blueberry muffin: moist, lightly sweet, enjoyed an occasional burst of blueberry flavor.
-          Two fried eggs: These did not really smell or taste very well to me. Interesting because I use eggs as a quick shot of protein in the morning.

-          Corn on the cob: The first ear had a slight green note and there was the scent of Mooville butter as I bit down. The second ear was sweeter. Interesting that it had insect damage – they know where the good food is. The corn tasted sweeter after the soup below than it did after biting into a peach. The corn was tougher toward the smaller end, but that end was also more moist.
-          Cucumber- yogurt-dill soup: A complex mix of flavors. It had a very slight mint flavor with a milky aftertaste.
-          Stuffed blossoms: I tasted the tang of the nut-based stuffing, but it was tempered by the blossom taste which was very slightly floral. I noted the crunch of the zucchini end, and then I dipped it in the melted butter that had slipped off of the corn.
-          Water: Water has always tasted sweet to me. It is my favorite beverage.

     Fruit Salad 
-          Peaches: They were a bit too firm and green. I rushed them; they were not fully ripe yet. But, there were juicy.
-          Tart cherries: Very juicy and sweet. The later season tart cherries are pretty sweet – like eating cherry pie. The juice squirts around my mouth as I chew. I think about how precious they are this year due to the frost killing so many blossoms.
-          Blueberries: Perfect ripeness; sweet with a bit of tart flavor toward the end.
-          Cantaloupe melon: The sweetest of these fruits. I was lead to believe that it was an Indiana Honeyrock, but I can tell by the texture and flavor that it is not. (It was too early in the season for MI melons.)

I spent time watching the butter melt in the heat and swatting flies from my food. It was a full outdoor experience. When I eat slowly, I notice when I am beginning to feel full. As I continue to practice mindful eating, I have slowed down to truly experience MI local food. Note to self: I cannot do this if I eat at my desk.


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