Food for Thought

food_for_thoughtWe’ve all heard the term, “you are what you eat”. We know that if we put bad things into our bodies, we’ll end up feeling pretty poorly. Equally, if we put good, wholesome, nourishing food into our bodies, we will feel much better. How much different is it to take this idea over to our thinking minds?

Our minds need nourishment too. All too often, we overload it with media and television, with constant thinking, worrying and getting stuck in our emotions. These things also help us to distract ourselves from our true self, from our true or “pure” thinking and emotions. We can get so wrapped up in them that we can’t see the forest for the trees, so to speak.

We all have things like fear and anger within our minds and within our bodies. The key is to not nourish these things, but instead nourish more positive things like compassion and love. This isn’t a rejection of our anger or our fear – they will always be there. It’s only human. We simply don’t have to engage with them, dance with them so much in order to live our lives fully. If I am angry, sitting with that anger, meditating with it helps me to see the underlying cause of it. I can see that the root cause of anger lies within me, and not another being that has ’caused’ it. Often it is through past experiences that we relate the anger to the present moment. If I can let my anger go, if I truly experience it and then let it go, what am I left with? The same can be said of fear. Fear is pretty much always based on change, and once we realise that all life is impermanent, the fear no longer lies within us and simply falls away. We will have to sit with these emotions time after time, but as long as we are practicing with them, we will get better at understanding them both within ourselves and others.

If we feed fear or anger, they will only get bigger and bigger. Have you ever punched your pillow? Did it make you feel better? Have you ever crawled under the duvet and feared coming out? Did this make anything better? Most likely not – acting on the anger and misplacing it on your pillow solves nothing, and also means that you have acted out aggressively and with violence to a mere pillow. If we keep feeding this sort of behaviour, how long until we act that out on another human being? Equally so with fear, if we constantly act on our fears they do not go away, but rather take control of our lives until we become so tied up within them we cannot move.

It’s not just a case of switching over to ‘positive thinking’ either. Thinking only good thoughts will not make the bad ones go away – they will be there. We have to acknowledge them first and then deal with them. Sitting with them helps us to understand them. Then we can nourish more positive thoughts. If we see that fear is keeping us immobile, if the root of our fear lies in past relationships and experiences, we can then look at it objectively and apply that reasoning to our current situation, in the present moment. We might fear that we will lose our job, but fear lies in change, something that we humans hate. We seek stability and reassurance constantly, it’s our nature. If we look outside ourselves, however we see that in nature nothing is ever constant, things are ever flowing and changing, never the same twice. Every morning we wake up a different person.

We will always have fear, we will always have anger. How we engage with them is what is most important. Friends might say something that sets off anger within ourselves, but if we sit with it and look at it, we often realise that this is based on how we think they should behave. People are never going to behave exactly as we want or expect them to – they are their own person, with their own experiences. We cannot get inside their head. All we can do is see that they share the same sufferings along the path of human existence as we do, and can see also where we have failed. When we see that, we don’t have these expectations of others, and we don’t have the anger when the expectations aren’t met, or the fear that things are changing.

Find what nourishes you most, and work with those thoughts while being in touch with those that don’t nourish. Try not to engage with the thoughts that don’t nourish – simply notice them and be aware of them within yourself. Nourishing things like love, compassion, creativity and acceptance will make the road of life a lot easier to manage.

Take a look at your food for thought. What is nourishing you?

Awen blessings. x

Eating Vegan and Locally – the ethical debate

“Is it more ethical and sustainable to eat a vegan diet which relies on the oil industry or a vegetarian diet with small amounts of eggs and dairy products from locally produced organic sources where one can make a relationship with the creatures? Do you disagree that a balanced vegan diet relies on imported food and that I am just creating problems for myself?”

(Taken from the Meat Eaters, Vegetarians and Vegans Ethical Debate on The Druid Network’s Ethics Pages Here)

Some very good questions were raised during this ethical debate, which I have been pondering ever since I went vegan. With the world’s dwindling oil supplies and the other costs to food travel – ie. carbon emissions, it has played largely upon my mind. Is it more ethical for me personally to eat lentils and quinoa grown in a country far away and imported at the expense of the environment (and other factors) than it is to try and eat vegan locally? Is such a thing even possible where I live?

I live in a very small village. We do have a village shop, which stocks the basics. None of what it stocks is labelled organic. There is some local produce, but even the people who work there cannot tell me for sure which is and which isn’t. Some produce is labelled as ‘Heritage Farm – locally sourced’ but I cannot find out just who this company actually is. As far as I’m aware, the most local food I can honestly say I have eaten this winter has been the onions scrumped from the fields after the harvest was taken away and handfuls that had not been picked up by the machinery were left to rot or be eaten by the deer.

Now that Spring has sprung, and new foods are available in my very own garden (nettle, mint, spinach, dandelions – strawberry are already in flower!) I am thinking more and more about sourcing local food. There are a few farm shops in the area, but these seem low on actual produce over highly packaged goods such as cakes, cookies, biscuits, chocolates, etc. They’re not so much farm shops as they are ‘farm boutiques’.

It raises another question as well – how local is local? 1 mile? 5 miles? 10 miles? Food grown in Britain?

Take for example my work lunch today, brought in from home. I have some Munchy Seeds, a Suffolk company that does delicious seed mixes. I have scoured the packet and website and nowhere does it say whether they are sourced locally or not (I have sent them an email enquiry). My banana was not grown in the UK, and has many, many food miles behind it. My apple is from Italy. The Twinings tea I am drinking has cucumber, aloe and nettle. There is no information about sourcing of ingredients. I also have a bag of mixed nuts that I dip into – they say ‘produced in Germany’ but can you grow cashews in German soil, or is it that the end package was produced in Germany? My decaf coffee has lots of food miles behind it, and other ethical considerations; the workers pay, the rainforest, etc. The almonds in the almond milk that I drank with it were not grown in this country.

I am seriously going to have to rejig my eating habits if I am to reduce the food miles in my eating habits. Having already made the switch to vegan, it’s been difficult enough already – eating out is an especial challenge in the rural countryside around here. There is usually always a veggie option, but it always contains cheese. One cannot live on chips and salad alone (provided the chips are fried in oil separate to the fish that is usually served with them).

Living on the coast, you would expect that you could get valuable vegan goods like seaweed rather easily. Unless you wade into the ocean yourself though, they are not to be found on any supermarket or local shop shelf, nor even in the ‘health food’ stores. I can find samphire on the beaches around here, but that’s all the local coastal veg that I know of. I think a Food Safari is in order! I also need to look into mushroom foraging workshops – I’d like to eat more foraged food. I will always remember one canoe camping trip in Sweden, when we helped a lost local with his basket of chanterelles who stumbled across our campsite get back to the village via our canoe in the failing light. Europe are much more aware of foraging, of what can be eaten and what can’t. However, considering the huge population of Britain, not everyone could forage without a devastating effect on the local flora and fauna.

So many, many questions, so many answers that need to be sifted through in order to find out what works best, ethically, for me personally. This blog post is not a sweeping statement to all that “This is the Way It Should Be” but how I need to make it work for myself personally in accordance with my principles and worldview.

My own vegetables will be planted shortly in my garden – lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. Beans will also be planted, as well as peas. This coming winter I’m looking at growing potatoes, onions and carrots in pots or bags right up against the house where they will be warmer and hopefully keep going all winter long. It’s far from sustainable, but I don’t have the time to operate a fully sustainable food garden right now in my life. If my working hours are reduced, and most definitely upon retirement, things will change (if the planet is not totally screwed up by then).

So, is it more ethical for me personally to support the oil industry in my vegan eating, or to eat more locally sourced food that may include eggs from the farm down the road? I’ve already had to adjust my diet with a vegan vitamin and mineral supplement for health reasons; these are from the Vegan Society. Yet when you break it down, what industry or industries is that really supporting? Are we getting into the pharmaceutical debate here? I still don’t have an answer to this question, but I am aware of my eating habits now, and will use that to make the final decision.

Am I creating problems for myself? I would say no. What I am doing is sacrificing ignorance in order to be aware as much as I can of what I eat, why I eat it and what the result to the world is in my consumer habits. As a Druid, I have to scrutinise my consumerism in order to see if my relationship with the environment is an honourable one. For me, there is no other option – I could not live with myself by being wilfully ignorant of the various choices I may have. This is not a problem, per se, but the way that I already live my life. It’s making me consider choices more and more – problems arise when there is no choice to be made. As long as I have options, I do not have a problem. It is up to me to address it correctly in accordance with my beliefs.

There is still much more thinking and research to do…

 

 

 

 

Friday Foodies- Boulawnee

This is a recipe from a friend of mine, Steve – thanks Steve!

For a really nice Afghan dish (again, really simple) of fried leek pastries (called boolawnee), first make a filling of finely chopped leek, a pinch of cayenne pepper, some salt, and a splash of olive oil – squeeze it all up with your hands to soften it. Then make a simple dough with plain or bread flour and a pinch of salt; need till it’s elastic and springy. Roll into a cylinder and cut into disks. Roll the disks into small circles (around 8 inches across). Place a dollop of your filling into the centre of each dough circle and pinch up into little pasties (I use this method: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9NkKQY-Qvg). Deep fry until they are golden brown and serve with salad and a sweet chilli or soy yoghurt dip). They’re supposed to be appetizers, but they’re so tasty we usually eat them as the centrepiece to a large salad spread.

For an amazing salad to go with the above – grate cooked beetroot, carrot, and a little apple (3:3:1 ratio), add a few drops of orange blossom water and a splash of lime juice, boom!