Thirty-five years ago I was teaching people about the macrobiotic diet. For many it seemed too weird. Eating rice, beans, fish, greens like kale and collards, miso soup, seaweed and pickles was freakish. Eating only locally produced foods, organic, no processed, frozen or canned foods seemed extreme. Now it is everyday commonplace recommendations.
The Asian influence can still be seen in the popular food crazes for rice bowls originally inspired by Korean bibim bop, Chinese hot pot and Pho style noodles with broth. Asian cooking as well as most traditional cuisine focuses on fresh, local, natural ingredients freshly prepared.
Today we are embracing traditions that focus on lots of fresh vegetables and smaller portions of meat, whole grains and a variety of spices. These kinds of diets are rich in flavor, high in nutrients and low in calories. They are good for our bodies and good for the planet! Lowering carbon emissions means eating less meat!
Food choices are the building blocks of our health. It’s like the story of the three pigs. You want to build your house out of bricks, not straw or twigs. Some wise person said “If the sun has shined upon it or it has come from the Earth you can eat it.”
Today as an acupuncturist, I always ask about food choices, whether the client comes in post surgery or preconception. Food affects your body mind and spirit. Making sure the gut is healthy is primary, a precursor to all other healing processes. Having dietary discipline is key to health.
A high percentage of serotonin, the hormone related to our sense of wellbeing is made in the gut. If your gut is off, you are more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression. So many mood disorders are related to organ dysfunction according to Chinese medicine. If you balance the digestive system, you can balance and support the mind.
Our food system needs to change. We need to learn how to eat and cook again. We need more locally produced organic foods. We need restaurants that make food from scratch that are not priced out of range for common folk. We need school lunches, hospitals and nursing homes that really prepare fresh foods, not out of cans or microwaved. We need foods that are not filled with toxins, chemicals, GMO’s, pesticides and herbicides. We need unadulterated healthy food.
The countries that still know how to eat and cook are the healthiest. In this country we look upon cooking as if it were some quaint custom or some exotic past time for the wealthy, instead of the life giving, nourishing, essential life skill that it is. What are we living/working for if we can’t afford the time to cook and eat well?
I think it was Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” who said something like “…the determining factor as to whether food is healthy for you or not, is if it was home cooked.”
So, I implore you all to learn to cook. Learn to cook foods that are quick to prepare, healthy and delicious. There are so many good cooking shows on TV these days like, Milk Street, Yan Can Cook, A Moveable Feast, A Chef’s Life, Simply Ming, Joanne Weir’s Cooking Class, Patti’s Mexican Table. Each of these shows has fabulous cooking ideas and recipes.
Cooking is a meditation and provides immediate reward. As a one time chef and cooking class instructor, I can taste if the food has been prepared with love. I can taste if the chef who prepares it, is healthy or not. If you are healthy you can taste subtle differences in flavor. If you drink or smoke or are sick you don’t have the subtle taste buds needed to prepare good food. Chefs and people who cook for others should take their health seriously. The subtle energy they impart into the food is the invisible ingredient we all receive.
So no matter what style of foods you prefer, learn to cook them well at home.
Not only will it save you money, the energy you put into the food will come back to you 10 fold. Your time transformed through heat, salt, pressure and fresh ingredients creates healthy, life giving food.
Cooking is alchemy. The magic is the transformation of ingredients and your love into what nourishes and nurtures the body, mind and spirit.
My #1 health recommendation is …..Learn to cook!