a crEATivity challenge
The Japanese use a word at the start of a meal the way the French might say, “Bon Appetit!” or Americans might say Grace. Itadakimasu honors all the hands that brought the food to the table, from the waiter who served it to the farmer who grew it. The literal meaning of the word is, “I take this life,” and it recognizes that in order to live, we must take the life force from another.
One of the founding principles of The Wheel of Creativity™ is that life itself is a creative process, and creativity flows through us all, just because we are alive. Whether we are carnivores, vegetarians or fruitarians, our bodies are composed of matter, which is formed of energy, which is released through the destruction of other matter. Life and death and creativity are inextricably linked, and they link us together, with each other and with all that is.
From there we have choices. We can either fan the flame of Life’s creative force in us, we can try to ignore it or we can actively (if unconsciously) snuff it out. One of the places we make these choices is at our tables. What are you eating today? How close is your connection with life through it?
The food we eat is our most intimate relationship with Life itself. If you are going to spend your life with another person, you naturally want to know where they come from. Why do we not do the same background check on our food?
Decades of industrial farming, cross-continental transportation, extended shelf lives and food product manufacturing have changed the very essence of how we define food. Now we have reached a point in history when obesity and malnutrition go hand-in-hand. We have lost our closest connection with Life.
We read labels and calculate numbers to determine if we are eating good food or bad food, when most of what we consume could best be described as non-food. I think a different calculation is in order. Rather than reading the ‘Nutritional Information’ on packaged foods, we should be reading their expiration dates. Perhaps the amount of life force in a food is inversely proportional to its sell-by date.
I am no culinary saint; I can enjoy a tasty bag of potato chips as much as the next person. But the costs of expecting our bodies to run on processed food products far outweigh the gains, not just to our bodies, but to the world we create as well. It is an altogether different experience to eat a meal of fresh real food brought to you in Nature’s packaging than to eat a meal of processed food products kept fresh in airtight wrappers (even if they are labeled organic).
Each time I am present to a meal of live, clean, simple, natural and whole food, I connect with the elegance of the design of the Universe of which I am a part, and a participant. Today it is a colorful salad of fresh-from-the-Earth…
Coeur du pigeon tomatoes
Black olives à la grèque
Sweet red pepper
Homemade hummus of chick peas and ground sesame seeds
Mesclun lettuce leaves
Salt & Pepper
Extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil
Aged balsamic vinegar
The tomatoes, red peppers, cucumber and chick peas grew on the vine. The olives grew on trees, and extra virgin olive oil was cold pressed from them. The spring onions and carrots grew down into the Earth. The mesclun shot up and spread out in the soil. The sea salt crystals were evaporated from fields of seawater in southwest France.
The fact that each of the foods in my salad bowl grew from the Earth moves me. The fact that human beings can be creative with Nature’s colors delights me. But the fact that Nature has perfectly engineered each of these foods to power the intricate systems of my body/mind/spirit puts me in awe.
So what about you? At your table today, how many degrees of separation lie between you and the Earth? Where does the food you eat come from? How close (or distant) does it make you feel to Life?
I would like to invite you, sometime this week, take the CrEATivity Challenge. Take time with your food as if it were a real relationship. Learn where it comes from and how it grows and how close to the Earth it brings you. Practice this with your friends, your loved ones and your children. Every now and then, practice it alone.
Cultivate your intimate relationship with real food. Give respectful attention to that which is giving its life to you. Receive the Life it offers you with love and appreciation. Not only will it nourish you; through you, it will nourish the entire world.