On Cooking What We Eat…

When I think about the good moments I spent with my grandmothers and mom, there is always a string of memories attached to the meals we shared. It’s interesting how common it is for people to associate very good traditional food with their grandmothers and mothers. Everyone seems to be especially nostalgic nowadays, in the prime of fast food and quick bites. Even the healthiest among us are often reaching for a low fat, low carb, high protein packaged donut… that expires in 2025. For lack of a better word… yuck.

The food we eat today endures some major struggles. The meat does not go from the farmer’s hand to the butcher’s to our kitchens anymore. By the time something reaches your dinner table, hundreds of people and machines have touched it, and it has probably travelled a long distance. For the conscientious individuals who care about what they put in their mouths, the last step of the process, cooking, is the first place to start regaining control.

We are what we eat, right? If so, why are we letting so many other people decide what we are? Cook your own food.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m all for going out once in a while. Does socializing with your coworkers mean grabbing a bite of someone else’s cooking once or twice a week? No problem. But it’s also important to make a conscious effort to feed ourselves and our families. That is what our grandmothers did. That is, if we were blessed, what our mothers did. Where did we lose the path? Why does everything we snack on have to come out of a box?

I’ve had phases where I was convinced I was just too tired or too busy to cook. “I work full time and study full time!” I told myself. “I want to do other stuff like paint and watch Netflix!” When I finished school, my excuses changed: “I have to clean this house! I have to do allllllll this laundry! I have to host all these people! I have to read this book! I have to stay late at work!” Blah. Blah. Blah.

Then, something strange happened. I would go out to find a meal at lunch, and catch myself wandering. I would look at cafe menus and shrug my shoulders. I would walk around in circles, hungry but without an appetite. I’d go back to work having picked up a cookie or nothing. Then I’d drink some 4 cups of coffee, get angry with everyone, and storm off home.

I wasn’t eating nearly as much as I needed, and I was gaining weight rapidly.

As someone who is used to home cooking and who has generally always made it a priority, the phases when I neglected myself and my values quickly caused very visible damage. I was killing myself slowly by eating all that crap.

My friend said something interesting to me about food carrying energy, just like everything else. If I believe that someone brushing shoulders with me on the train can leave behind fragments of energy that will affect my day, why is it so difficult to consider that the energy in my food is also altered by everyone who handles it? If 25 people handled my broccoli before it got to me, how much energy is my broccoli dancing with, and how much of that energy is good? No wonder the broccoli in my ramen makes me feel a little dramatic. The least I can do is make sure I cook the food, so it doesn’t get handled by another 10 restaurant employees before I eat it.

It seems like this should be common sense, yet here we are.

Today, the implications of the lack of decision in my past still affect me day to day. But… they only affect me. Many of us don’t tend to put ourselves first and so we sacrifice ourselves for others. We think we are doing them a favour by taking care of them first. The truth is, however, we serve others best when we serve ourselves first. Unhealthy habits have a way of biting us, and our families, when we least expect them to. So, for the sake of the children I do not yet have, I’ve returned to cooking daily with my husband. With both of us on board, there is always someone available to make a homemade meal, and life is that much sweeter.

Sometimes, when I forget my lunch at home without specifically intending to go out somewhere with my coworkers, I often find myself wandering, still window shopping for food that I don’t really want. Who knows what energy it carries. I don’t need dramatic broccoli with multiple personalities. My life is dramatic enough.

And remember… we design our own luck!

M.

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