I´d like to bring up some thoughts about the society in which we live and our relationship with food itself: our nourishment.
Let´s start with the premise that each and every one of us is part of society as a whole. We are all co-responsible. Bearing in mind that our options and decisions are based on the information which is available to us, it is easy to comprehend that those holding power incessantly seek to control the mass media. Ideology and the ideas people hold are conveyed through them. I´d like to highlight that deep down, our beliefs make us who we are, since we do what we think. Information control is the great tool at the disposal of those in power since our opinions, attitudes and patterns of behaviour stem from all the information we are continuously bombarded with through the media.
We live in the information age. Noam Chomsky explained it very clearly. But an excess of information is equivalent to dis-information. Media manipulation is based on disinformation, which in turn becomes manipulation. And anyone under that influence is easy to manipulate. We are overwhelmed. We cannot cope with it all.
But the good news is that we DO NOT HAVE TO.
This is nothing new. For some years the topic of nutrition has become trendy. Has this happened by chance?
There is no one and only reason. Plenty of “reality shows” such as Master Chef or Hell´s Kitchen among others have appeared on our screens, turning food into an issue of amusement and entertainment. As a result, we are distracted by all this media paraphernalia from what underpins food and really matters. Like everything in life, truth and essence are found deep down, not on the surface. And it does not necessitate an extravagant display.
I remember my teacher Bill Tara stating in one of his lessons that the food industry is adept at confusion and half-truths since an overwhelmed, disoriented and baffled consumer does not know where to turn to or what to believe. Once this is so this means their target has been met. I mean, what is there to be found behind all these smoke-screens that so conveniently create a lucrative bafflement in the consumer and the ordinary citizen? Are we turning something as important as our food intake and nourishment into something trivial by means of these “shows” and “pastimes”?
I dare say so. Despite it being seemingly contradictory, when someone intends to turn someone´s attention away from a topic, one of the most effective ways to do so is by focusing on the topic itself while, at the same time, side-lining what is essential (nutrients, means of production, growing techniques used, carbon footprint, environmental and social justice, and so on). Thus, by highlighting what is futile and trivial, the issue is turned into media fodder by wrapping it in emotions, tears and laughter, and all to the higher joy (and detriment) of the consumer.
In the media we can read that in Spanish households there has been a dramatic drop in the time spent shopping for food or cooking. For 46% of Spanrds, the main reason given is the lack of time to devote to these chores.
As it turns out, we don´t have time to cook, do we? We are neither taught about the relationship between food and health nor brought up to appreciate it. This is quite shocking to the Japanese when they learn about the West. And indeed, if we ponder over it, the main activity of a human being in life is getting nutrients for their survival while staying healthy and happy.
But is this still our priority? There was a time in which we worked in order to be able to feed ourselves. Nowadays we might say that we work in order to “keep on working”, given the fact that by the time we get home we are so exhausted that we have neither the motivation nor strength to do that what we work for: eating while being healthy and happy. Isn´t this a nonsensical and absurd contradiction itself?
In a world where food has become a media show, the truth is that we cook less and less and we eat worse and worse. And yet the topic of food is found all over the place. We have turned our nourishment, health and happiness into a media pill that we take as consumers so as to ignore the fact that, in reality, we know nothing about how to cook or nourish ourselves. We do not know the timing of Nature anymore, of that same Earth that gives us our life and creates our gut microbiota, an ecosystem in a state of emergency. How can we achieve balance if we eat produce coming from the other side of our planet, from climates completely unrelated to ours, preserved and stored under controlled atmosphere, and which gets to us if anything by sheer miracle thanks to the wonders of modern transport?
We eat as our taste-buds dictate, but we do not follow our common sense, let alone our heart and soul. But we can eat and live in a more responsible way, without renouncing food quality. What can you do if you lead a chaotic lifestyle but want to stay healthy?
COOK JARS OF GRAINS (rice, millet, barley, quinoa, buckwheat and so on) as well as legumes (chickpeas, azuki beans, lentils, etc) as preserves or in a water bath. This is ideal for taking with you when you are travelling.
AT HOME, ALWAYS KEEP SOME COOKED RICE. Very easy to do. You put it to boil and off your mind. Meanwhile you can do other chores. It keeps for up to two days out of the fridge, or can be kept in the fridge too. Leftovers can be used to cook delicious hamburgers: balls, etc. Bear in mind that there are softer grains (millet, quinoa, bulgur, buckwheat, amaranth) that cook faster (20 min)
COOK ONE TYPE OF LEGUME EVERY WEEK, and use it for different recipes. Pre-cooked legumes are a great advantage. You can prepare a pâté and have it ready to eat. One day soup, another day, a stew, or a hamburger. Vary the type of legume on a weekly basis (chick-peas, lentils, azuki beans, and so on)
80% PLANNING, 20% EXECUTION: having the menu ready in advance helps us cook faster and more efficiently as we then know what we want to do. We needn´t have the whole week´s menu planned in advance, but it is important to know, on a daily basis, what we are going to cook to make it fit our condition, lifestyle, needs, etc.
COOK YOUR VEGETABLES JUST BEFORE YOU EAT THEM. It is important that vegetables be freshly cooked to be able to get the most of their nutrients. Cooking methods such as blanching will only take you 5 minutes!
WASH UP AS YOU COOK. This way dishes or cooking utensils will not pile up in the sink. Once you have finished cooking, your kitchen should be neat and clean.
PLAN YOUR COOKING ONE DAY IN ADVANCE. Who does not spend the whole day out of home? If this is your case, you can carry out the “long cooking” preparations necessary for the following day while you relax at home after dinner. These are those which do not require our attention: Grains (e.g. rice) for lunch, some cereal cream for breakfast, some legume (e.g. lentils), a vegetable stew, a soup.
PUT INTENT AND AWARENESS INTO YOUR COOKING. Living “here and now” is a full time job.
You can click here to discover healthy and balanced food options.
See you in my next post, and remember that you are free to make use of your power as a consumer!!